I spend much of my time working clients who are looking to deliver new eLearning to their customers or employees. Sometimes they know exactly what they are looking for, and more importantly, why they want it. But many don't - in this article I'll reveal the questions you MUST ask.
A custom eLearning course can set you back thousands, if not tens of thousands of pounds.
Identifying specific reasons for creating the course, ahead of choosing a provider, is essential. It will save you time and money.
However defining exact requirements at this stage is not essential.
Often my clients want me to guide them through what is possible and which of styles/features/course types would be suitable for their project.
As Donald Rumsfeld once said "There are things we do not know we don't know."
So it's important to discuss what is possible, before looking at specifics.
Any eLearning provider worth their salt will demonstrate a variety of examples which showcase different features, functions, layouts and concepts. And then run through some integral questions on course objectives, before providing a proposed solution.
There are key questions you should be asking yourself before you speak to eLearning providers.
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to narrow down your search. It will allow you to focus on providers who have successfully delivered courses with similar objectives in the past.
I would go as far as putting these into a document that you can send out - this will start filtering potential partners before you enter into any conversation. Those who cannot deliver what you need will make it known before you have spent half an hour on a call.
In addition, by providing answers to these questions up front, prospective partners will be able deliver a much more tailored proposal, saving you both valuable time in your search for a solution when you finally have that first dialogue.
Questions you should be asking
So here are 5 essential questions to ask yourself before finding someone to build your eLearning course:
1. If this course only achieved one objective, what would it be?
Lost in a sea of conversations about technology, software, platforms, features, designs and content, are the initial reasons for building the eLearning course.
So begin by stating in one sentence:
Which single objective must be achieved with the delivery of this eLearning course?
Chances are, there will be several.
But be strict with yourself - if the eLearning course only achieved one objective, what would that be?
You can move onto others later, but if the provider cannot achieve this, you will need to continue your search.
2. How will you know if this course has been successful?
This ties in nicely with the previous question, but is slightly different and equally important - how will you actually know that the objective has been achieved?
Demonstrating the value of an eLearning course is useful in selling your elearning strategy to management, but can be one of the most challenging things to achieve.
- So ask yourself these questions right now:
- How will you know if this eLearning course has been successful?
- What metrics do you plan to use to demonstrate this?
- Do you expect to see an increase in sales or a reduction in costs?
- Or will some cheery emails from customers, positive feedback from employees or the seal of approval from management be enough?
Write the answers to these questions down. And make sure they are at the forefront of any conversation you have with potential eLearning providers.
3. Have you seen any other courses that have design features or functionality that you might work in your course?
Let's be specific, can you provide examples? Maybe create a bookmark folder in your web browser, in which you add links to several eLearning courses which have features that you really like.
In fact, why stop at the courses you like?
Create another list of courses that you don't like too. It is unlikely that you will like or dislike all aspects of each course, but specifying this will act as a filtering process before you even start speaking to providers.
4. Do you have all of the content ready to go?
The word have is slightly wishy-washy here... in the context of this conversation, I am talking about pulling the material together into a single location.
Knowing that it's somewhere, floating around on a network drive does not count!
Actually pull it together into a single, accessible location, ready to share. A shared Dropbox folder is one idea.
Once you've had an initial conversation about your requirements and the eLearning provider has signed a non-disclosure agreement, the provider will need to see the content so they can really get a feel for the course before providing you with some proposed solutions.
This should include:
- Course content (PowerPoint presentation, PDFs, brochures)
- Assets (including corporate images and videos, logos, corporate fonts, background music)
- Links and guest logins to relevant websites, LMS or asset libraries
- Training videos (if this course has previously been deliverd in a classroom format, can you provide a video of the live training?)
5. Does it matter which software is used to build the course?
I have no doubt that despite your level of understanding of modern day rapid-authoring tools, you will be looking for your eLearning provider to advise you on the most appropriate software to deliver your course.
All providers will have their own preference and most modern rapid-authoring tools will create high-quality eLearning, compatible on a variety of devices.
And we must remind ourselves that our focus should on what we are trying to achieve, rather than how we get there.
- Do you have a plan for what happens after the course has been delivered?
- Who will update the course if it needs changing?
- Do you plan on doing this yourselves or would you expect the eLearning provider to offer?
There are several cloud-based rapid-authoring tools available that allow very simple content changes by someone who isn't an eLearning design expert - would something like this be better for you?
Maybe they eLearning provider can design the initial course, with a template and overall design layout, and then you could manage any changes the content yourself.
Or maybe you have the budget to pass this responsibility over to your provider on an ongoing basis.
Maybe you would like to see solutions that cater for both eventualities.
Recruiting an eLearning provider should provide a simple path to the implementation of a new course.
By answering the questions outlined in this article, ahead of any dialogue you have with eLearning providers, you will minimise the amount of time you spend finding the right partners to work with and maximise the amount of time you spend working together to create a solution.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you're going to love my free 5-day email crash course - 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an eLearning Project.