How do you set-up and nurture an elearning team that can efficiently create smart online learning, at the right quality and volume? We’ve pulled together our years of experience working across hundreds of elearning teams of every size and configuration – across the globe. We’ve identified 8 things that most effective teams have in place and turned them into tips that will help you develop your very own elearning dream team.
Too often production teams are under huge pressures to produce large volumes of elearning, quickly. It’s a big challenge to efficiently produce quality online learning content that meets the needs of users and business stakeholders…particularly when under strain.
As a leader, what can you do to help your team keep up the pace whilst creating successful, smart solutions? How can you keep your team engaged, motivated and taking a people-centered approach to development? What works well? Here’s what we’ve learned from the conversations we’ve had with hundreds of elearning teams around the world.
8 things the best leaders do to help their elearning team succeed:
1. Set out a clear vision for elearning in their organization
For your elearning team to be successful, they need to be crystal clear what they’re aiming for. So, take charge. If you’re producing online learning in-house or with third parties, it’s key that you have a clear vision for what ‘great elearning’ looks like.
Create a manifesto that everyone commits to. The starting points for this? Your end users and your analytics. Dig into data about what’s worked well, what hasn’t and why. Marry this up with some user surveys and interviews, and focus in on what helps boost performance: digital or not. Take what you learn and set out a clear vision for elearning in your business.
We set out our people-centred elearning vision and checklist off the back of extensive research.
- Provide best practice examples of elearning based on your findings. From the top end bespoke ‘experiential’ designs to the reusable single page performance support resources, create inspirational prototypes of each. Enable your team to view, re-use, and adapt these models.
- Link these examples to user profiles and situations of ‘need’, so it’s clear how they can help people.
2. Empower their teams to truly represent end users
Teams that create people-centred elearning embody their end users and represent them and their needs throughout the entire process. If you are an in-house learning team your customers are your learners. This is where your #1 focus needs to be.
However you configure your team, empower them to talk with and involve end users, monitor learning analytics, and get up close to user needs. If a subject expert or business manager is standing in the way, then make the case for why connecting designers to end users and goals make sense.
- Equip your team with templates and guides that can act as the playbook for how they plan, design, create and improve content.
Try our free ready-made template to capture audience and project needs to save you time.
- Provide a set of ready-made user profiles, or personas, that can be used as a starting point for your team.
3. Get the right roles set up for their vision
Whilst it’s true that anyone can have a go at creating digital learning in the many authoring tools available, it’s key to consider the skills and support you need to meet your vision.
For example, do you need to re-engage audiences with in-house elearning and wow them with some new mind-changing experiences? If so it’s likely you’ll need great copywriting and strong visual design skills, as well as someone to design that learning experience.
Think of your team in terms of roles not jobs.
If you have people who can play multiple roles, great. Equally, can you bring in specialists from other teams when needed, such as a copywriter from the marketing team.
Get practical: Six key roles for your elearning team:
- The learning leader – they should own the vision and set expectations for the team
- The authoring tool expert – they are your internal champion for the authoring tool you use
- Learning designer – they know how to design learning experiences for performance
- Subject matter expert – they are an expert in the field who provides the content
- Graphics and media expert – they’re great at designing elearning UI with smart layouts and can create / curate images and video content
- Copywriting expert – they can hone your copy to make sure it really resonates with your audience
How you configure your team will depend on your vision, the scale you’re working at, and the skill-sets available to you. We’re writing a blog on this soon…sign up to our newsletter to get notified when it’s published!
4. Invest in their elearning teams early on – it pays off
Tempting as it is to have your team jump in and begin using tools to create elearning fast, we find that gung ho approaches can waste time, especially when working at scale. Mistakes get repeated and inefficiencies build. This can also create a very sporadic experience for users, who may find that menus and buttons are repositioned and redesigned unnecessarily, every time.
Our research shows that investing early in your team to ensure they have the right skills, confidence and competence to hit the ground running pays off in the long run.
- Invest in hands-on training for your authoring platform, if it’s new to your team
- Invest in digital learning design skills where needed, and ensure it’s practical not just theory!
- Equip teams with tools and support that enables them to work smartly with content experts, manage stakeholders, and take a consultative approach
5. Support smarter working – reuse, recycle, recoup
Even if your vision is to create top-end ‘bespoke’ elearning, there’s always room for smarter working. Step back and assess how to avoid your team starting from scratch every time, saving them bags of time.
Can you re-use global styles, layouts, pages, menus, even whole topics? For example, swapping out the videos in a branching scenario means users get a new learning experience, with a consistent interface, in half the time.
- Add new great designs to a central ‘bank’. Alongside prototypes to support your elearning vision, continuously review and share best practice designs, centrally. We do this via our showcase of elearning examples.
- Host re-usable guides and briefing packs teams can use when planning their projects or working with others. Alternatively, use ours, for free!
- Use tools that enable teams to duplicate, re-use and easily edit existing projects.
6. Get their elearning team thinking commercially – even if the content’s not for sale
Thinking commercially about elearning production, even if it’s not for sale, helps everyone focus on value. We find it drives better design results and smarter working as a result.
If you have department leads commissioning elearning projects for your team to do, take a consultative lead. Is it business critical? Who’s it for? What’s it shelf-life? What’s the real problem it’s trying to fix? Are you sure a course is the right fit? Then ‘we think this would be better because….’
- Have ready-made investment models. Sometimes you have to talk money, particularly if you feel project commissioners are asking for the moon on a stick (when in fact, just the stick would do). Create some ready-made financial models that show on average how long and how much it takes to produce different kinds of outcomes. But don’t think of it like window shopping! This isn’t to say you let them choose which ‘model’ of elearning they like. You are the expert!
- Set targets for your team so they know how many budgeted days there are to spend on the project, and target media spend. Keeping track of time input means you have something to compare with measured output – helping you with the classic ROI evaluation.
7. Foster a community – for efficiency and invigoration
Teams that work together create greater results, faster. Encourage sharing, peer- reviews, joint brainstorming, project re-use, and inspiration sessions via a community of practice. Don’t let your team’s ideas get siloed or stale!
For big teams, consider an online community portal or forum.
- Set up a community of practice for sharing, reviewing, seeking answers, and sharing data insights.
- Encourage peer review at two places as a minimum – the initial design ideas before anything has been built out in detail, and before it goes live.
8. Make data analysis part and parcel of core roles
Less than 10% of designers make data-based changes after an elearning project has gone live.
Arm your team with the analytics feeds for their projects, so they can monitor what’s working and what’s not, and make tweeks to up the project’s engagement and reach. Make it part of their role that they should make changes beyond launch, and ask them to report back on how it’s doing.
At a macro level, ensure your learning leaders and managers are looking at data feeds across projects.
- Provide access to learning analytics dashboards so everyone can track and improve their project’s success
- Include a simple user-rating survey in every piece of content. Pop in a quick, re-usable, ‘was this useful?’ survey at the end of each piece of elearning content and have your team monitor results. It will give them a quick snapshot of what’s working well.
- Review macro-level data as a team regularly so you know what times of day are the hottest usage times, which devices are most being used, in which locations content is most working and which formats of elearning are most popular, and which aren’t. Ultimately, are you meeting your vision?
Need to upskill your team? Check out our expert guidance and coaching.