Is every e-learning project successful? Not really! You have surely heard of failed e-learning projects. A study conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) revealed that a communication breakdown had an adverse effect on successful project implementation. E-learning vendors who believe in the power of effective communication will have a solid process in place to communicate with stakeholders involved in the e-learning project.
As an e-learning project stakeholder, you will be required to interact with the e-learning vendor regularly throughout the design and development of the e-learning course. Here’s an outline of the communication process that’s followed by best-in-class e-learning vendors.
Kickstart the E-learning Project
After you choose the right e-learning vendor, the next step is to finalize the scope of the project. Communicate your needs clearly. After all, you know what your learners need. Agree upon what can be done, and cannot be done by the e-learning vendor.
- Understand the process that will be followed by the e-learning vendor for e-learning course development (e.g.: Successive Approximation Model (SAM), an agile process for e-learning course development).
- Be ready with your questions if you have any for the e-learning vendor. Similarly, be prepared to answer the questions that the e-learning vendor might have for you.
- The e-learning vendor would ideally draft a macro strategy for the e-learning course and also design a graphical user interface (GUI) for the e-learning course, based on the training need, audience demographics, and company-specific branding guidelines (wherever applicable).
- If you need the e-learning course to adhere to specific guidelines in terms of the language used, fonts, or graphics used, communicate that to your e-learning vendor or share your style guide if you already have one in place. Your e-learning vendor can follow the style guide or design a checklist based on the project requirements. If you wish to follow the same guidelines for another e-learning project, developers can simply follow the checklist. Really comes in handy when you are working on tight schedules to complete e-learning course development.
- Review the project plan shared by the e-learning vendor. You need to be clear on the timelines to review the course. Remember, you will need to block the time of your subject matter experts (SMEs) to get them to review courses and knowing when to expect storyboards for review helps both you as well as the e-learning vendor in smooth development of the e-learning project.
Note: In case of an e-learning curriculum or a project with multiple modules, the project plan might be shared in phases.
It is essential that you sign off on the scope, project plan, strategy, GUI, your corporate style guide /color guide and checklist (only if applicable). If there are queries at this stage, please take the initiative to communicate. The e-learning vendor will be glad that you asked them.
Freeze the Prototype
A prototype is nothing but a scaled down version of the e-learning course. Unlike a storyboard, the prototype is fully functional. It gives you an idea of how the final course will look like. Before the e-learning vendor designs the prototype, they will finalize the learning strategy, the visual strategy, and the audio strategy for the course. For example, if you have already communicated that the images used in the e-learning course need to be sourced from the image bank of your organization, then the prototype will adhere to that requirement. If you have any suggestions or require changes made in the prototype, please communicate the same to your e-learning vendor.
Remember, communication is the key. Depending on the communication process that works for you, let the e-learning vendor know whether you prefer a weekly-call or even a daily call (depending on the project requirements), or simply shoot an email to your e-learning vendor to share your thoughts.
Move on to E-learning Development
After you have finalized the prototype, instructional designers work on the storyboards. Though the storyboard and the subsequent module that is developed goes through stringent quality checks internally, it would always be nice to get the SMEs equally involved in the review process. They are the experts and no e-learning vendor or internal team member can compete with the SME’s knowledge on the subject.
After the SME feedback is incorporated, the storyboard moves to the development phase. As a stakeholder, you are again required to review the functional course with/and without audio, and communicate your feedback. After the course is uploaded on your centralized learning platform, the e-learning course is checked for bookmarking and completion status. This step is essential to ensure smooth rollout of the course.
Talking about communication, I am reminded of an effective communication process that was followed by one of our clients, from the healthcare industry. The senior training manager of the global learning team in the organization was our point of contact for e-learning course development. She had to interact with stakeholders and subject matter experts located in three different time zones across the globe to receive project-specific inputs. She kept us, the e-learning vendor informed of all her communication with different stakeholders. So, even when she was working from a different time zone, work on the project did not stop because the email loop included us. Now that’s what we would call ‘smart communication’.
Effective communication at every step of the project, and adhering to the review timelines as specified in the project plan aid in smooth completion of the e-learning project.
What Can You Do to Improve the Communication Process?
Effective communication is a step that you cannot afford to skip at every stage of the e-learning development process. Remember, the best ideas and strategies are of no use if they are not communicated effectively. So, are you ready to get started?