Five days to better e-learning: what it’s all about

There’s no shortage of information and advice out there about designing fantastic e-learning – and lots of it is very good advice. But it strikes me that most of that advice relies on you having a blank canvas, as well as (more often than not) plenty of time, money and manpower.

What if you don’t? What if your licence doesn’t extend as far as starting from scratch? What if you’ve got an existing e-learning course which you know could (and should) be better, but only your own fair hands to improve it: no budget to spend on external development support, no graphic designers or technical wizards to help out, and (inevitably) not much time?

I found myself thinking about this situation a few months ago and set myself a challenge: to outline a framework to help anyone in this boat improve their sub-standard, or perhaps simply tired, e-learning in just five days. Last month I ran a webinar for the IITT in which I presented this framework and I’m going to share it here over the next week.

In preparation for the webinar, I asked my Twitter network to tell me what they’d change if they were in this situation of having to improve or refresh an e-learning course with limited resources. I also asked the webinar participants the same question. This is what they told me (I’ve paraphrased some very similar responses ever so slightly, just so the Wordle image has its full impact).

This is all good stuff – who’d argue against the benefits of smaller chunks of learning, for instance? But my concern with many of these suggestions is that they’re just too much for one person in a limited amount of time. Over the next few posts I’ll show you how focusing on small changes in one area each day for a week can deliver a big overall improvement.

Here’s the deal:

  • Yes, this is a little contrived. I know that, realistically, you won’t have five solid days to work on updating an old course. In fact, you probably won’t work on it uninterrupted for an entire day at a time. The point is, each day I will give you things I think you could do in a day. If you choose to spread that out over several days, or indeed over weeks or months, that’s your call.
  • My framework is based on the assumption that the e-learning course is still needed and that the business need has been validated. As you’ll see, we’ll definitely reconsider the purpose of the course and how that purpose is achieved, but I don’t want to take up time in our five days building a business case.
  • I’ve based all this on what I can do. I know e-learning but I’m no developer, so I think my capabilities are fairly representative of the average, not-particularly-technical L&D manager or instructional designer. I can’t create or edit the graphic design of screens, develop new screen templates or single-handedly develop and integrate audio and video. Using XML, InfoPath or similar, I can move screens around and delete screens, create new screens using existing templates, edit text and manipulate the content of interactions. To be honest, if you can’t do this, you probably only need to allow another half a day to learn it. If I can do it, so can you!

If you’re on board with all that, make sure to pop back every day next week and we’ll have your e-learning looking better in no time!

3 thoughts on “Five days to better e-learning: what it’s all about

  1. Craig Taylor

    Hi Stephanie,

    I wanted to drop by and say Thank You for acknowledging that many learning facilitators (I’m avoiding ID) are operating as a 1 man band, without the support and expertise of all the other skillsets that you mentioned.

    All to easy to assume that in-house development has the same support structure as vendor led development, so thanks for reminding people.


  2. Stephanie Dedhar Post author

    Hi Craig – I just realised I didn’t reply to this comment, sorry. It would be great to know what you think of the tips I’ve provided in my five day framework and whether you agree that they are in fact feasible for ‘one man band’ learning departments. So far, I’ve not had a huge amount of experience in this kind of environment so would really appreciate your feedback. Thanks as always for reading!

  3. Pingback: Five days to better e-learning: recap | Good To Great

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