5 Important Factors for Estimating an eLearning Course Development Time

Published in Concepts
Friday, 19 April 2013 16:56
One of the biggest questions faced by every instructional designer is: “How much time does it take to prepare 1 hour of eLearning?”.

5 Important Factors for Estimating an eLearning Course Development Time

Unfortunately this is not an easy and straightforward question to answer. As you can guess there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration. In my opinion, the following 5 factors are the most important for estimating an eLearning Course Development Time.

  1. Organizational need/deadline

    Of course, one of the most important factors is your deadline. Depending on your deadline, you might cut your course a bit shorter, or you might slow the process down.

  2. Instructional Design Model

    With the use of an Instructional Design Model (IDM) you will not only ensure that learning is happen more safely, certainly, thoroughly, and expeditiously than might otherwise happen, but also you will save much of the eLearning course development time. Moreover, some courses will always be easier than others when it comes to design and development. Obviously, those who are more demanding will take time and you need to plan according to the needs of your course.

  3. Complexity of the content

    More complex instructional materials will take more time to prepare. This might also mean more meetings with your subject-matter expert and more attention to detail. More complex materials may require more complex material design and you are likely to have to go back and check everything again.

  4. Types of media you use

    Are you making a video, a power point presentation, or other interactive materials? Obviously videos require more preparation, effort and time. You will also need time to edit the materials later.

  5. Learning Technologies and Hardware device

    How quickly you will complete the design of your eLearning course, depends a great deal on the technologies you use and their speed and accuracy. If you use a Rapid Cloud-Based Authoring Tool you will decrease the eLearning course development time. Furthermore, technology sometimes gives up on us in the least desirable moment. For example, if you have ever prepared a course material for 3 hours and suddenly your computers decides to go nuclear seconds before you saved your data, this might cause further delays in the process (it happened to me twice!).

These are some of the most important factors to consider, but keep in mind there are many others too, such as your ability to multitask, avoid procrastination and distractions, analyzing skills and others personal factors. According to Portny et. Al (2008), each eLearning project is unique and thus it is difficult to rely on estimates. According to a research, carried by Kapp and Defelice (2009), a major factor that determines how much time it takes to develop one hour of training is the SME unavailability, the failure to provide the materials in timely manner and the lack of knowledge on technology, which slows the whole process down.

In conclusion, again, there cannot be a straightforward answer. You might want to take a look at the research by Kapp and Defelice (2009) and their breakdown, but as Portny et al,(2008) claim such estimates are not 100% reliable. Sometimes you just need to trust your previous experience and set a time frame that is realistic.


You may also find useful:


7 Resources for Estimating eLearning Course Development Time


  1. Five Resources for Estimating Development Time
  2. Estimating Costs and Time in Instructional Design
  3. Estimating course development times
  4. Time to develop one hour of training
  5. E-learning Development Time
  6. Estimating Costs and Time in Instructional Design (PDF)
  7. Evaluation of the Time Needed for e-Learning Course Developing (PDF)
Read 5700 times Last modified on Friday, 19 April 2013 18:12
Christopher Pappas

Christopher Pappas is founder of The eLearning Industry's NetworkCurrently, the eLearning Industry has a network of more than 75,000 professionals involved in the eLearning Industry and runs the following sites:

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He is also the Founder and Owner of the Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals’ Group (64K+) (http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=110953), which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry at LinkedIn.

Christopher holds an MBA, and an M.Ed. (Learning Design) from BGSU.

If I can be valuable to you do not hesitate to contact me!

Website: www.elearningindustry.com
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