Based on my experience, I find that there is no specific process for successful completion of projects because what works for one project will not for other. Michael W. Allen in his book ‘Leaving ADDIE for SAM’ says that ‘The best model today is the model that works well for an organization.’ The best model is the one that achieves the performance outcomes in spite of the constraints it has. In order to be successful in completing e-learning projects, you need to select a team that can work collaboratively and value each other’s efforts. Here are the 5 key-learning professionals for successful e-learning projects.
1. Project Manager
The e-learning project manager servers as a mediator between the team and the stakeholder. The project manager always ensure that the project runs smoothly.
According to Michael Allen, SAM is an iterative process that repeats at least 3 times, starting and ending with evaluation (Iteration 1 Step 1). Project managers should first begin with a quick evaluation of the situation, need, and goals of the project asking the right questions to the stakeholder such as who are the learners and what needs to change about their performance? What is unsatisfactory about the current online program, if any exists? How will we know whether the new program is successful? What is the cost and timelines for project completion? Who is the key decision maker?
Project managers drive in getting the right solution for any problem that arises during the project. The key for successful project manager is ‘communication’ both with the stakeholder and the team as well. He puts every one of us on track and keeps us focused toward completion of the goal.
2. Instructional Designer
Instructional design is a decision-making process that helps in creating effective courses in an efficient manner. An instructional designer is expected to prepare a storyboard within time and cost budgets. The designer has to consider many conditions, such as for whom the training is developed and what their current capabilities are, who will assist in content gathering and organization, and so on. Instructional designers make training meaningful and memorable and determine what content does and doesn’t belong to the training.
Iteration 1 Step 2 of SAM process says: always prepare a rough design for discussion. Do not jump into the content and design the full training. Stay in the sketch mode and list obvious goals and write behavioral objectives for each. Make a few draft designs that suit the situation and meet the goals.
Staying in the sketch mode will always help in being on track with the customer expectations and then scaling up will drastically reduce rework.
3. Visual Designers and Authoring Tool Specialist
Visual designers and authoring tool specialists work hand in hand in developing effective e-learning courses. Visual designers design the GUI with the company branding colors and hand it over to tool specialists to make it functionally active. They also create the graphs, scenarios, interactive design elements, videos, icons, colors fonts, and so on. Tool specialists integrate the content into the layout and make the course active in all aspects of design, content, and functionality.
Iteration 1 Step 3 of SAM process says: prepare prototypes using whatever tools can quickly provide a sense of the design idea in application. In the first iteration, focus on prototyping learner activities instead of presentation content and then scale up the development process for completion.
SMEs play one of the most important roles in developing effective e-learning courses, as they provide a lot of content that makes our course informative. But sometimes, their content is either too informative or too less. Always allow them to share their knowledge and experience in order to understand the content better. SMEs will always help in setting the correct learning objectives and identifying the ‘need to know’ and ‘nice to know’ information for their content. SMEs also provide the application part of the content, which will help the learners on how to use this information at the workplace.
For instance, when developing curriculum modules for drug-based content, SME provided the scenarios for the product module, because the medical reps have to convince doctors to prescribe their brand of drugs to cure a particular disease. SMEs share not only the application part of the content but also the feedback from the learners. This will help in developing effective courses further.
The better relationship you have with the SME or stakeholder, the more successful your e-learning projects will be.
5. LMS Specialist
LMS specialist is a person who is responsible for the proper infrastructure of the course on the platform.
The LMS is a platform that is used to deliver the course to the learners. LMS specialists must ensure that all the elements of the online course must work properly and are in the right places in terms of sequence.
Coordinating expectations and roles can make the difference between success and failure of any project when there are multiple team members and stakeholders. SAM is an effective process that helps in delivering an effective e-learning course that exceeds customer expectations.