When implementing eLearning for the first time in an organization, one is treading an unfamiliar terrain. There is a likelihood of stumbling upon many pitfalls. Here is a list of pitfalls that you could avoid when initiating eLearning for the first time in your organization.
1. Misconceptions about what eLearning actually is
Very often there are several misconceptions about what eLearning actually is and what it is not. Some feel having high-end animations and videos constitutes eLearning; others feel converting and including audio to PPTs and publishing those using tools such as Adobe Presenter is eLearning.
The right method would be to understand eLearning, its processes and players in its totality before venturing into implementing in your organization. This way, your expectations will be in line with what genuine eLearning developers can offer you and you would not get misled by vendors who confuse you with an array of tools and outputs that may not really be required for your organization.
2. Not understanding eLearning development and review process.
E-learning development is not similar to a commodity that you order and it gets delivered to your doorstep. Your responsibility does not end with placing the order. You need to be closely involved at each stage of the process. When your eLearning partner presents a storyboard for review, it is important to review and offer feedback at that stage.
Very often stakeholders do not realize its importance and when vendors send them storyboards for approval, they do not really understand how it works. If they merely give a go ahead to the developer and later realize the output is not as per their expectations, there would be a lot of re-work involving extra cost and time. Understanding how eLearning development process works and the importance of storyboard, prototypes, etc., is important when working with an eLearning partner.
3. Not understanding the role of stakeholders in developmental process
There are several stakeholders within an organization who are directly or indirectly involved with the eLearning process. For example, SMEs play a very important role in validating content, to provide key direction to the project – what the focus should be in a particular topic and what are the learning objectives. Involvement of key managers may vary from organization to organization. L & D managers or HR managers cannot work in isolation on an eLearning project.
They need to involve line managers, SMEs and training managers who provide the right direction to the project. Their involvement and concurrence is key to the success of the initiative.
4. Involving key stakeholders in the end
Just imagine you complete your eLearning course and then produce it for final review of the stakeholder who has initiated the project. It is reviewed and you are told that the course is not what it was intended to be and several changes are suggested. What would be the outcome? You could end up losing valuable time, money and resources in implementing the feedback. This could be avoided if the stakeholder was involved right at the storyboard stage of eLearning development.
5. Improper Inputs and Resources
When it comes to content, it is the organization that is the expert. SMEs are content experts. E-learning developer is a learning expert and tools expert who can convert content to an engaging eLearning course. However, if as an organization you just dump reams and reams of information to developers for them to weed out essential information, there is likelihood that they don’t get the right focus.
The organization needs to provide the right content, direction and impetus informing developers on who their audiences are and what the learning objectives are.
6. Launching eLearning too soon
Sometimes, you have new software or a new process that needs to be launched in the organization. You need to train employees on it to get them up to speed and you decide eLearning is the right option.
But before the software is finalized or the processes are finalized, it is not a good idea to initiate the eLearning development process. This results in too many iterations and confusions. It is better to wait until the software or process is streamlined and finalized before even initiating the eLearning development process. This way, the final and approved version is what is handled by the developer reducing the chances of re-work.
7. Not planning for translating courses
If you plan to translate your courses as an afterthought, chances are that you incur needless expenditure in terms of developing costs and time. For example, when you have text on images, it is better to have a source file, which makes it easier for translating the text. Alternatively, you can have text alongside images instead of having them embedded into images – which also reduces re-work and the need for having source files. Not factoring in on these vital points when planning eLearning will result in unnecessary expenditure later.
8. No knowledge of tools
Choice of rapid authoring tools should ideally be dependent on the budget, learning requirement and objective of the course. A course with many interactivities might be developed better using a particular authoring tool. Also, if your courses require to be updated and you wish to do so internally, you should be a license holder of that authoring tool. Else, you might have to go back to the vendor for updates in future. You need to factor these when choosing an eLearning partner and the authoring tool.
9. Not factoring the deployment options or plan
How will your courses be accessed? Would it be through CDs, intranet, LMS or through mobile devices? Interactive elements such as videos are designed in eLearning courses based on how the course is accessed. If you do not inform your eLearning developer about these, chances are that courses are developed keeping in mind the Internet or LMS and they would not be compatible with mobile devices such as iPads or smartphones. Once created, to make them compatible for mobile devices involves lots of changes at the developmental level involving multiple revisions.
Therefore, it is important to factor in on how your learners will access the courses and keep your developers informed of the same. Your developer will be able to incorporate this information right during the time of course development and production.
10. Support compatible browsers and LMS
One of our clients commissioned an eLearning project that was compatible with Windows XP browser and versions later than this. Once the course was developed and rolled out across their offices worldwide, it was brought to their notice that some countries were still using an earlier version of the browser that was not compatible with the course. This involved re-creating the course making them compatible with earlier browsers. Such omissions can be avoided by factoring the browsers used across the organization – including the bandwidth available in different locations so that the course quality and learning experience does not suffer for learners.
These are some of the oversights that organizations tend to face when commissioning eLearning for the first time. Keeping these factors in mind will ensure that your eLearning project is implemented successfully without hitches and problems.