E-learning outsourcing does not mean one has to outsource end-to-end eLearning development. There are some tasks that you may be quite capable of doing in-house. However, your in-house personnel may not be adept in carrying out certain other essential functions that are part of eLearning solutions. At the same time, it may not really warrant hiring new people to carry out these tasks.
In such situations, you could do certain tasks in-house and outsource other tasks.
When planning to outsource eLearning solutions, you could first start by outsourcing only a single component of the eLearning development process. Once you are comfortable and have established a good working relationship with your outsourcing partner, you could consider end-to-end eLearning development.
The eLearning development process involves three components:
- Content – It could include Designing, Developing and Translating
- Technology – It could include LMS Customization and Hosting
- Services – This could include LMS Administration, User-support and Engagement
Let’s look at them in detail.
When you are developing eLearning courses, you obviously require content that provides the raw learning material. These would be available in the form of PPTs developed by trainers, training manuals, reference guides and so on. This information would invariably be scattered within the organization. You need to have a project manager or coordinator who will be able to analyze the training requirement and identify the course content and collate the resources to develop course content. Once you have your raw material, you need people to design the course keeping in mind the principles of learning design.
Content development would involve the following stages.
Based on the resources and the ability of your in-house team to devote your time, you can decide to outsource just one or all of the components of eLearning content development. Here are some broad guidelines.
When it comes to Course Design, outsource it if you have fixed learning design standards, but your team is highly stretched for time. You can also outsource this task if you don’t have learning design capabilities but only have sound subject matter expertise. In such situations, I’d strongly recommend that you don’t attempt instructional design – but let the experts handle it for you.
Make sure that your vendor-partner has a pedigree in learning, with specialization in Learning Design. Also ensure that while being able to provide learner-centric solutions, the vendor can also keep the overall business goals of your organization in mind.
Small cohesive teams are ideal. You need a vendor who has teams that can align their skillsets despite being from widely diverse functions. The more knowledgeable/specialized the team is, the more productive the project. Ask for the profiles and experience of the team that will be working on your project.
After Course Design, you have course development.
Outsource the development of course, that is, specific components such as content, graphics, animations, etc., when you have set Instructional Design standards in place and need some graphically rich interactivities or learning objects to enhance the course.
You can also consider outsourcing if you have a strong design team and when your design standards are well-defined or mature but want to turn out more courses in less time.
Just a word of caution, don’t make the mistake of assigning course development to a company that specializes only in graphics and has no background in learning. The ideal vendor should have in-house instructional designers who can provide valuable inputs on the treatment of a course and expertise in Authoring Tools.
If you want your learners to learn in the comfort of their native language, you might consider translating your eLearning courses. Outsource your eLearning for translations, if you don’t have professional translators and narrators in place.
An ideal vendor should have in-house translations and recording professionals who has good command over the subject and are adept in the respective languages into which the courses need to be translated.
Thus, you really don’t have to outsource the entire function of eLearning development, but just a small component so that you capitalize your in-house resources and time optimally. If you have any questions about outsourcing, do share them and I will try to respond to them.