How To Build An Agile Elearning Authoring Team

Doing more with less has been a mantra in corporate training departments for the last decade and if you’re an eLearning manager looking for new ways to develop eLearning more efficiently, read on. Likewise, the ability to create home-grown courses on a shoestring budget has an obvious appeal and certainly is a way forward for small businesses as an accompaniment to their one-to-one training.

So how do organizations – large and small – ensure that training is well designed, compliant and adds value to the business?

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The Agile eLearning Authoring Team

With the growth in eLearning authoring tools, seemingly anyone can be their own eLearning developer, designer and project manager. The benefit of this do-it-yourself approach is that organizations can save thousands from their budgets, whilst retaining complete control over the content and design.

With this being the case, commissioning departments no longer require the services of eLearning agencies – but that doesn’t mean they don’t need an agile eLearning authoring team. So how do you get your team to think like an eLearning agency?

1. Boost productivity by using the right tools

Choose the right tools. If you have non-technical or inexperienced authors creating your eLearning, you’ll need to source a simple system – like Elucidat – that is easy to use. By empowering more of your team to author eLearning, you can increase your team’s productivity and get your courses out to learners faster.

2. Collaborate and iterate directly inside your authoring tools

If you’ve been around the eLearning block a few times, you’ll be familiar with the roadblock that the review phase creates. One of the biggest challenges in managing your project is that subject matter experts and reviewers are busy people with full-time jobs and often content reviews have to fit in around the day job. Make this process as easy as possible for SMEs and reviewers by using a tool with an online review and comment system.

In the old days, if you had an eLearning module built in Flash that needed review, you would end up with a Word document full of screen shots. Reviewers would leave feedback by referencing Page 4 or that picture in a separate document.

Fortunately, these new tools allow your team to put a fully-functioning module online for your reviewers who can write a comment directly onto the system. In terms of tools, online review is a huge step forward in helping your review cycles to become more efficient.

Watch this video to see how a comment and review system works:

3. Design and develop once, build many

One of the big challenges (ergo, opportunities) that you may be facing in your organization is BYOD (bring your own device) and how to ensure your content renders correctly on different browsers and devices. It’s not feasible to build a separate module for every device – the development and maintenance alone would bust your budget. So the key is to select authoring tools that have done the hard work to ensure cross-browser compatibility and responsive rendering on different devices. This will allow you to design and develop once, but build for many environments.

Related: How Utility Warehouse Rolled Out Responsive eLearning To 46,000 BYOD Learners

For elearning inspiration, check out PetSync’s living with a dog in a shared community. Developed in HTML5, this elearning utilizes a responsive design which allows the course to be displayed on desktops as well as mobile devices.

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4. Create an agile culture

We know that easy-to-use authoring tools, a central system and an agreed process all help create a high-performance team. We’ve done research into what makes a high-performance learning team that shows this.

Whilst the widening choice of eLearning development tools available to author and develop online learning has greatly helped, the need to involve multiple team members with different talents in the process still poses a number of challenges. These will have an effect on your culture, but the most important thing is how you view your team.

In an agile approach, the team is one and everybody in the team is responsible for the result. This is a big game changer. No more being late because the testing didn’t finish on time. The team is responsible for the tasks (user stories) and for keeping the project on track.

In the ideal situation, all members have all necessary skills. This is never the case in the real world, but it is still surprising how much work and responsibility people can share if that’s the expectation set from the start.

5. Create an agile customer

In waterfall methodologies such as ADDIE you will have a lot of contact with the customer (internal or external) during the sales process and the design stage. But during the production period, there will be hardly any contact. And then suddenly: the delivery of the result. In an agile approach, you stay in contact all the time, iterating and demonstrating the results every week or every two weeks. You show progress, get feedback and decide together what the next priority needs to be.

This connects the customer with the process and gives them responsibility. Instead of being we (developers) and them (customers), it can become us (collaborators).

Final thoughts to help you build an agile authoring team

  • Use inbuilt online review. The best way to improve team efficiency is to use a tool with inbuilt online review. Consider selecting an authoring tool – like Elucidat – that provides reviewing and commenting functionality.
  • Host team hangouts. Try hosting knowledge-sharing hangouts twice a month where your team comes together and presents a project. Discuss the challenges they encountered and how they worked around them. This helps teach your team new practices that increase efficiency.
  • Improve design skills. There is a lot more to eLearning development than meets the eye. That’s why instructional and graphical design as disciplines are differentiators in good eLearning. Great eLearning design not only covers the important knowledge and skills, but also maximizes learning and actually changes behavior.  It is not simply enough to put the information on a page and hope that learners will assimilate it.
  • Remember the basics. Improve efficiency by reusing assets, aligning the right person with the right task and sharing knowledge across your team. The biggest mistake I see is eLearning managers letting their teams work in silos. This is an instant efficiency killer – avoid it at all costs.
  • Keep learning. Stay up-to-date on the latest technology and ideas that can be used to make your authoring process more efficient. Register for Elucidat’s eLearning time-saver course.

A version of this article originally appeared on Elearning Industry.

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