Are you skeptical to hire an eLearning vendor to meet your training requirements because you are not sure of how to choose the right partner? Are you put off by the horror stories of peers who have had a bad experience with eLearning vendors? You are certainly not alone.
Many organizations are unsure about evaluating the competence of an eLearning vendor. Would physical presence in international conferences, advertisements in corporate magazines and online sites suffice? Obviously, one needs to go beyond to understand the true capability of an eLearning vendor and their ability to address your training needs.
Here is a checklist that will enable you to select your eLearning vendor.
- Pedigree in learning with specialization in learning design
Thanks to the array of rapid authoring tools available in the market today, there is a tendency to consider eLearning development as a technological function – all one needs to do, is to dump content into one of the templates provided by the authoring tools and you will have your eLearning course ready in a matter of minutes. Though one wishes it could be as simple as that, it is not so. E-learning courses need to be aligned to business goals, needs of learners and their varying learning preferences. This is where the proficiency in learning design is essential in a vendor partner for your eLearning courses. Ideally, key individuals handling your account should have training and instructional experience and eLearning development should be their core business.
- Qualified in-house instructional designers, visual designers and defined processes
E-learning development requires following certain defined processes and steps. It is a combination of efforts by instructional designers, learning experts, visual designers, quality experts and specialists in authoring tools. Your vendor should have a cohesive team of individuals who are proficient in the eLearning development process and project management. Having a skilled and knowledgeable team to back your project ensures that they comprehend your requirements quickly and deliver accordingly. It is a good idea to ask for the profile, experience and qualification of the team that will be working on your project.
- Experience in working with global companies and adhering to eLearning standards
Look for an experienced vendor who has worked with a company similar to yours. If the vendor has already worked with an organization whose domain and size are similar to yours, you will save valuable time in orienting the vendor on the basics. A vendor who has worked with global audience has better perspective on cultural and language sensibilities that are essential when developing courses for employees across different geographies. They would also be comfortable working across different time zones and handling courses in multiple languages. At the same time, they would have the capability to develop courses as per the stipulated eLearning standards such as AICC, SCORM, etc.
- Demos/samples to evaluate prior work
An eLearning provider with a good track record ensures the success of your project. To gauge the competence of a vendor, ask for demos or samples of their previous work. This enables you to judge if the provider can successfully fulfill your requirement or not. You may also ask them for a prototype of the course you wish to develop to judge their competency in handling the subject matter.
- References to establish credibility and trust
Finally, good eLearning vendors would not hesitate in providing references of their previous clients when asked for. So, check out references to judge the credibility and trustworthiness of the vendor in handling your project. Some of the questions that you can ask these references can be about…
- Details about the project that was handled.
- Technology/software used to develop and deliver the project.
- Adherence to the timeframe promised.
- Hidden or unanticipated costs encountered.
- Willingness to work with the vendor again.
Asking questions and getting answers in these areas will give you a good idea on the suitability of the vendor for your course development.
I am sure this checklist provides you some direction to your search for a competent eLearning vendor. Are there other aspects that are missing here? Please let me know.