The anatomy of a high performance elearning team

This week we’re talking about ‘High Performance’ e-learning teams – the teams that seem to effortlessly deliver high quality projects – at a much higher rate than other teams.
But what do these teams have in common? How do they do it? Our research finds some interesting results.

Just click ‘play’ below to find out.

In this video:

01:07 – Overlapping roles

02:55 – Collaborative authoring technology

03:54 – Flexible development process

04:43 – Appropriate culture

Read the transcription here:

Hi, this is Patrick Dunn for the Elucidat Blog.

Now, fortunately most rapid e-learning development teams are small in comparison. That’s the nature of the business. But, at the same time, most rapid e-learning development teams exist in organizational contexts that are large and complex.

Having done lots of these kinds of projects, (rapid e-learning in large organizations), I’ve observed that there are 4 characteristics, you might call them building blocks, of rapid e-learning development team-working that make working in these large complex organizational environments effective.

These four building blocks are:

  1. overlapping roles within the team and beyond the team;
  2. collaborative authoring technology;
  3. a lean and flexible process;
  4. the appropriate culture.

And I’ll talk about each one in turn.

Overlapping roles

It really helps if the roles within your rapid e-learning development team and the immediate stakeholders around the team overlaps somewhat.

So for example, your subject matter expert. It would be really useful if they know just a little bit about interaction design, just a little bit, so they can help design interactions.

I know it’s a tall order but it really helps if your graphic designer can edit a little bit of text. And at the heart of the team is the learning specialist, who can also dabble and who can do a little bit of graphics and interaction design and know the subject a little bit as well.

So the roles are overlapping.

It’s a very different model than in some industrial process, for example, at a fast food restaurant. What you’ll find there are the roles are incredibly clearly defined and specific and cannot overlap. Or producing a Ford Model T, you know, taking a lesson from history. There again a very solid industrial process in which roles must not overlap at all.

That really isn’t the world rapid e-learning should be developed in. And so again and again, what we are saying in these videos is that because the struggles with technology have been more or less overcome, because of the authoring tools you should be using, you don’t need highly specialised people, unless for example you’re developing something like a high-end immersive 3-dimensional game. There you may need one or two specialists.

So, at the heart of the team is a learning specialist who dabbles and spreads the influence a little bit round the team and outside the team, and roles overlap.

Collaborative authoring technology

Now, overlapping roles can only be really effective if you have a technology, an e-learning production technology that allows for collaborative working. Ideally, your collaborative working should be built right in your working system so that, for example stake holders can make comments in real time as if working on your product and everyone involved is working synchronously at the same time.

The key point here is to try to get away from this mind set of sending people things, sending large half-finished courses over the network or sending people email saying you have to look at this on a different system. That’s not going to work, it slows you down.

If you want collaborative authoring software, Elucidat scores very highly in this regard. Tweet this!

It allows people to work synchronously at the same time. Very fluently, in an overlapping way.

Flexible development process

As we’ve said in some of these videos, a rapid e-learning development process needs to be lean and mean and quick and flexible and needs to be fluid. It’s very different from the old waterfall, sometimes called waterfall methodologies, where everything was done step by step, document by document.

Each process needs to be driven by flexible prototyping not by documentation.

So you should be cutting down on your process documentation, and cutting down very significantly on your content documentation because that needs to be written, or should be written directly into the tool that you’re using. So your process needs to be quick, fluid and flexible.

Appropriate culture

Now of course, even if you’ve got really good over-lapping roles in your team and appropriate rapid e-learning collaborative technology and an intuitive flexible process, if the culture in your team and the culture in your organisation are not right, you’re not really going to get the benefits of rapid e-learning development.

Now the word ‘culture’ is often banded around. It is often misused.

I want to be quite specific about this. Culture is about values and belief.

It’s about the way people treat each other in organisations. And the culture that’s appropriate for rapid e-learning development is a culture of tolerance and openness and flexibility.

It’s a ‘suck it and see’ culture.

Because as I’m going to keep saying in this videos, with the removal of so many of the technological struggles in producing e-learning, with the removal of those, we should be encouraging people to try new things, to experiment to try new working methods, and you have to be tolerant of mistakes in order to allow for that to happen.

So the culture is really terribly important.

It’s the building block upon which the other three building blocks are founded. And the other 3 building blocks, like I’ve said previously are;

  1. overlapping roles,
  2. appropriate collaborative authoring technology,
  3. and a flexible intuitive process

Thanks, I’ll see you next time!

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