Developing online courses is an art as well as a science. Apart from having the right tools, an organization should also have the right people with the requisite skills who will be able to execute the project smoothly. When you shop for an external custom online learning development vendor, how will you ensure that they have all the qualifications to execute and give shape to your specific needs?
It is fairly easy to evaluate the suitability of an online learning service provider. The first place to start with is their website. Check out this blog that tells you what you need to look for in an e-learning service provider’s website. Once you shortlist a suitable partner, you can proceed by engaging with them through phone conversations, email exchanges or personal meetings and evaluating their suitability based on the guidelines discussed below.
Check out how long they have into learning and training, their processes and team profile
Specialists in rapid authoring tools need not be learning experts and vice versa. To create engaging learning experiences online, you need to have a team of experienced instructional designers who understand how learning takes place, a team of developers who can work with a range of software tools and execute what has been envisioned by the instructional designers and project managers who serve as a bridge between you and the team of developers – conveying your ideas and requirements effectively and bringing suggestions and learning design options back from the learning team.
So, for this to happen smoothly, the vendors should have been doing this for quite some time so that they don’t use you as their training ground. They should be having well-oiled processes for different aspects of online learning such as designing, development and project management. At the same time, it would be an added advantage if the senior management has a background in learning and training, and allocated a dedicated team of instructional designers, developers and project manager to execute your project.
Choose a provider whose core business is e-learning services
There are many service providers with proficiency in technology and software services. E-learning will be a part of the whole gamut of services they provide. While it may not be right to assume that they do not have the requisite skills, it is preferable to make sure that they have the requisite expertise in learning. Designing e-learning courses requires understanding how adults learn, their learning preferences and learning models. The course content has to be carefully studied and aligned with the training objectives.
Qualified learning experts who have a background in teaching are trained to present content in a manner that is easy for learners to understand and assimilate. They take into consideration learners’ background, computer skills, and design the courses to provide the best possible learning experience. For this, they should understand the content and choose the right strategy that is ideal to attain the learning objectives. Chances are that a service provider whose core competency is designing e-learning courses will be in a better position to provide you superior service.
Ask for samples, references and prototypes
It is always good to ask service providers to give samples of their previous work. This gives you an idea of their quality and approach. You will be able to decide if they fit your requirement or not. Asking for references will help you gauge if they have worked with a similar organization such as yours. If they have, they are more likely to meet your needs better and you could benefit from their experience. It is also a good idea to see if they are willing to submit a prototype before starting full-fledged development. This helps in ironing out any differences arising due to miscommunication. It provides an opportunity to get a first-hand experience of how the course is likely to shape up.
These communications will also enable you to evaluate the speed and promptness with which the vendor responds to your queries. You will be able to decide on the comfort factor in dealing with the vendor.
These are some guidelines that you can follow to identify the right e-learning or online learning partner for your training projects. Do you find this article useful? Please share your comments and feedback below.