New technologies are forcing L&D teams to change the way they produce elearning, says Steve Penfold. He explains how new processes are helping organisations speed up production, increase team productivity, and enhance elearning quality.
Once upon a time, it was necessary for an L&D team to have two broad groups of people with very different skillsets to create elearning. You might have the designer group that handles the front-end design and content, and the development group that use their technical skills to bring the designers’ vision to life.
What if I told you this process was outdated. What if I told you it’s inefficient and costing you hours of time and thousands of dollars?
Modern elearning managers are rethinking their elearning production process to involve more stakeholders. New tools are enabling this shift by shielding stakeholders from the technical complexities of creating elearning.
This shift is empowering non-technical stakeholders at the front-end of the production process. They now have direct access to create a working elearning product.
Let’s look at the three advantages of involving more non-technical stakeholders in the elearning production process.
1. Increase the speed of production
By allowing the people who know the content to actually put it directly into an authoring tool, you can speed up the production process. This increased speed can be the result of several factors:
- Fewer links in the chain: Each step (person) that content needs to go through in the production process adds time, e.g. from Subject Matter Expert (SME) to Learning Designer to Graphics Designer to Developer. Removing steps will reduce time. Imagine a situation where SMEs take the role of developer and enter their own content via a templated authoring tool like Elucidat. This could save hours of discussions and clarification meetings between team members.
- Development efficiencies: Developer resources are often stretched and can be a bottleneck in the production process. Allowing non-technical resources to create finished content, or at least working prototypes, will largely, if not entirely, remove this issue.
- Simplified review cycles: Like a game of Chinese whispers (or Gossip), each set of production hands that the content goes through, from initial idea to finished product, opens the door to errors and misinterpretation and makes extra quality checks and approvals necessary. Reducing the number of steps in the production process simplifies and reduces the number of reviews required and minimizes another potential production bottleneck.
2. Increase team productivity and efficiency
In addition to increased development speed, general efficiencies can also be realized:
- Higher output: By using simple, powerful elearning authoring tools and enabling your non-technical resources to reach more deeply into the production process, your overall output capability will increase.
- A more flexible team: By using the majority of your L&D team and not just your developers to develop content (i.e., actually building a working product), you will have a more flexible production team and greater production capability.
- Remove reliance on third parties: If you currently outsource development to an external vendor, then huge time and costs savings will be realized by bringing some or all of the development function in-house using your available non-technical resources.
- Bring teams together: Web-based authoring tools like Elucidat allow multiple team members, regardless of their technical ability, to work concurrently on a single project over the web. Apart from the efficiency of having multiple people working on a single elearning deliverable, this means that geographically dispersed members can be formed into flexible, effective virtual teams.
3. Improve quality of end product
All of these savings and efficiencies that come from using your wider team for development don’t have to come at the expense of quality. The processes and features in the tools that will enable your non-technical workforce to author elearning can actually make for a better end product:
- Less chance of miscommunication: With a more direct route from subject knowledge to working product, there’s less chance of miscommunication, confusion, rework and errors.
- Centralized stakeholder input: Many elearning authoring tools that enable non-technical team members to create elearning have built-in web-based workflows that allow multiple SMEs and other stakeholders to access, review, comment on and approve content right inside the authoring tool. The chance of missed email comments, duplicate or conflicting comments and reviewer feedback in different (often developer-unfriendly) formats is removed.
- Consistency: By using templates in the elearning authoring tool that your team members use, the overall output will have a consistent look and the end users of the courseware will be familiar with how to use and interact with it. And templates don’t have to mean boring or inflexible. For example, Elucidat’s screen templates (or themes) can have as many or few screen types as necessary for a project (e.g. several question types, sequence builds, image carousels, multiple text and graphic layouts, video, etc.) and these can either be locked down or open to some adjustment depending on how much flexibility you want to give your authors.
So, with these potential savings and benefits, the question for me isn’t why you would give your non-technical team members the ability to dive more deeply into the elearning production process, but rather why you wouldn’t.
Stay on top of the latest elearning ideas, trends and technologies by subscribing to the Elucidat weekly newsletter.
Latest posts by Steve Penfold (see all)
- How to implement an effective employee training program - April 1, 2018
- Stop selling training the wrong way: 5 ideas to help you sell more courses - March 1, 2018
- 7 Elearning Authoring Tools: Comparison and Review - November 28, 2017