If you’re working on modules for any type of elearning initiative, you know how difficult it can be to get the modules out on time. There are a few things you can do to speed up the development of your elearning content, no matter what you’re using it for. We’ll go through a couple of tricks and solid practices here that can help you with this process.
As you’ve probably read here, trends in the elearning industry are constantly evolving. You know it’s important to get the info out in a timely manner to make sure it’s relevant. A constant stream of information is needed to keep the content rolling. You need a dedicated team to ensure each and every part of the course is done correctly.
This can all be a bit overwhelming on a tight deadline. Here’s how you can break it down into manageable pieces.
Have a Well Planned Outline
This is the number one tool you can use to speed up production. Without it, development can be flopping around in various directions a lot longer than you’d like.
It can be tempting to jump right into a project and just get it started and figure things out as you go. For some projects this can work well. For an elearning course, it can spell disaster. Avoid jumping into it right away and spend a little extra time nailing down the outline. The more detailed it is, the more drastically it will speed things up.
Define the Goal
- What do you want the course to accomplish? This should be very clear. Write down every single goal you want to accomplish.
- Divide the goals into actionable items. List every single thing they need to learn in order to accomplish your goal. Break it into as many sections as you need, but each section should only have one actionable item / thing to learn.
- Once you have all the actionable items, re-order them in a format that is easy to understand.
- Under each actionable item, list the tools you want to use for this lesson.
Define the Scope
Now that you have an outline with all your goals, you’ll want to define the scope of them all. How in-depth do you want to go? For example, if it’s important to know the boat floats – how much do they actually need to know about buoyancy? Add this to your outline.
Assign the Work as Modules
Going in a linear fashion is not always the most efficient. Assign the goals, or parts of goals, to each appropriate team member in advance. This will make it very clear who is responsible for what right from the start. Individual deadlines at this point would be good, but not necessary.
Once you have a rock-solid outline, you’re ready to start building the elearning module. We’ll talk about a few tools that will be really helpful in speeding this process up.
Tools to Help Manage Development
Teams can be difficult to manage when there are a lot of moving pieces. This is completely normal, so don’t look at it like you should be able to handle it. Most managers know what they can handle and what they can’t. It’s part of good management.
I love Trello for one reason: it’s extremely flexible for my needs. If your team is really large, it may not be the best choice. But for a dozen people or less, you can manipulate the program to do quite a few things that will allow you to visually organize your outline. Trello also isn’t bloated. It doesn’t add a bunch of features to overwhelm you. It’s light and agile.
Basecamp has been around for a long time. It’s a fully featured team and milestone management system. There are newer and more impressive looking systems, but Basecamp is still a leader in the field because they’ve listened to their user base. The only negative I have for Basecamp is the notifications are overwhelming. You can turn them off, but it’s a bit of work to get it the way you want. By default, they’re all turned on.
Slack is a beast. It’s a fully functional tool for organizations that are in need of every aspect of team management. Robust communication tools make slack stand out. Team members can converse with each other in multiple apps, so it’s good for teams that need to be agile.
These are just a few popular tools. Many more exist, you just need to find the one that fits for your team. Using any team organization software will make you more efficient and speed up elearning content creation.
Get Better at Creating Content
One major way to speed up the content creation process is to get better at creating the content itself. Make sure your graphic artists are the best they can be. Have an ace video team that can throw quality work together quickly. Most importantly, makes sure your writers can write.
There’s almost no excuse for that last point. Writing can be a drag if you’re writing about the same topics all the time, so make sure your team finds a way to stay motivated while writing, especially under tight deadlines. If your writers can’t cut it – find some that do. They’re the one sole position that can drag the entire process into the gutter if they’re not up to snuff.
Animated Content is Cheap and Easy
Presenting information in a visual format is a cornerstone of elearning. You don’t always need to leave it to the graphic artists to get the job done though.
You may have already experimented with whiteboard animation in the past. It’s a great way to jazz up your elearning presentations.
If you’re looking to improve you’re your static information though, some video is a great way to do it.
While creating video with actors can be time consuming and expensive, animated shorts are the exact opposite. Even if you don’t have someone on the team who can do this for you, other companies and freelancers exists by the hundreds that will work under tight deadlines.
Reuse and Repurpose Previous Content
The longer you’ve been creating elearning content, the more previous content you have to draw from. It’s time to dive in to the vault and pull out some greatest hits.
We’re not necessarily talking about just grabbing old modules and inserting them here – but we are talking about tools and visuals that you don’t need to recreate from scratch.
Various topics are likely to keep popping up in your courses. Grab the best of the past and carry it forward. Graphics, videos, and tests – all great ways to reuse and reinforce common themes.
Reference the Past
Current modules are allowed to reference past ones. Just make sure you’re keeping people in the loop in case they didn’t do the one in the past. This is a great way to make use of old materials.
Templates and Formatting
One of the best uses of old material is to simply borrow the formatting and templates you’ve used. This can speed up your current content by simply having the team insert the new material into the last template. It can also be a great roadmap to keep the team on track.
These are just a few things you can do to speed up content creation for elearning. It really comes down to good management, and using your resources effectively.
Don’t hesitate to take a course or two yourself to find out where you can improve your skills. If you’re the captain of the ship, the vessel only moves as quick as you let it. A well trained crew is nothing without a skipper to utilize their talents!