20 Questions To Ask When Taking A Brief For An eLearning Project

What To Ask When Taking A Brief For An eLearning Project

Here are the 20 questions you need to ask when taking a brief from an eLearning project sponsor:

About The Need

1. What goal is this intervention intended to support?
It’s vital to identify the real underlying purpose of the proposed intervention. In the workplace, learning is usually just a means to an end.

2. At which people is this intervention aimed?
This question establishes the scope of the intervention in terms of target population.

3. What does this target population need to be doing in the future that it may not be doing now if this goal is to be achieved?
This question places the emphasis on performance not on learning, which is vital if you are to design a solution that is focused on changing behavior and not on developing knowledge.

4. Why are they not doing this now? Have they ever done it?
You want to establish as soon as possible whether there really is a learning gap and what other factors could be impacting on performance.

If there really is a learning gap, proceed with the following questions:

About The Learning Requirement

5. What absolutely must learners know in order to meet the performance requirements?
The emphasis here is on the “absolutely must”. Many learning interventions end up as knowledge dumps and cause a great deal of unnecessary pain for the learner. You want to know what the minimum is that people need to know (retain in memory in the long-term) to get started applying the new behaviors.

6. To what additional information must they have access in order to meet the performance requirements?
This complements the previous question because there is likely to be a lot more information to which people need ready access than they need to actually remember. Think resources rather than courses where possible.

7. What “big ideas” (key principles) do they need to understand and buy into in order to meet the performance requirements?
Many learning interventions have at their heart one or more big ideas that cannot simply be presented and applied; the learner needs to buy into them at an emotional level. This includes all compliance courses, which have at their heart a big idea - data security, keeping healthy and safe, protecting customers, etc.

8. What skills do they need to acquire and/or put into practice in order to meet the performance requirements?
If skills are needed then you will have to build in lots of opportunities for practice with informed feedback. Typically we underestimate the time needed to develop skills and devote too much time to instilling knowledge.

About The Learners

9. What prior knowledge, skills, and experience does the target population have with regard to the subject of this intervention?
This is a particularly important question because novices will need much more structure and support than those who are more experienced.

10. What interest is the population likely to have in this learning? How motivated are they likely to be?
If motivation is high, you will be able to get straight on with your intervention. If it’s low, you’ll have a job to do to build enthusiasm.

11. What hopes and fears is this population likely to have with regard to this learning?
Performance cannot be your only focus because learners are human beings with aspirations and anxieties to which you must pay attention.

12. What expectations does this population have in terms of how they learn?
Different organizations, countries, and generations have different learning cultures. You do not have to pander to these if you feel that doing this might get in the way of a successful outcome but you do need to know what you’re up against.

13. What basic skills does this population have/not have that are relevant to this learning (numeracy, literacy, language, computer literacy, etc.)?
These skills are obviously important because they may be pre-requisites or you may have to adapt the design to cope.

14. What other information about this population will help to inform the design?
There will undoubtedly be more you need to know, depending on the nature of the problem. Just don’t waste a lot of time figuring out learning styles; at least not until there’s a reliable model you can trust.

About The Logistics

15. What is the size of the target population?
How is it distributed geographically? These questions will have a big impact on how you deliver your solution.

16. What budget is available to support this intervention (take into account all costs including those incurred by learners)?
Budget is important, but it may not affect the nature of your solution as much as you might think; there are plenty of ways of getting a job done without Hollywood budgets.

17. By when must this intervention be completed? When can it start? For how long can learners be made available for learning?
Time is critical because it will place constraints on many aspects of your solution. But if you cannot respond to tight time constraints you will not be providing a useful service.

18. What human resources do you have available for analysis, design, development, facilitation, marketing, support, etc.? What software and other tools are available to these people?
These questions establish your firepower, who, and what you have supporting you as you proceed with your solution.

19. What equipment is available to the target population to support the intervention?
This matters because it will determine your options in terms of technology-based solutions.

20. What systems and facilities are available to support delivery?
This question might bring out information about Learning Management Systems and other platforms, as well as facilities such as meeting rooms.

These questions form the basis of the analysis phase for the More Than Blended Learning design model. They are not intended to cover every eventuality, so if you have any favorite questions that are not listed here, please let me know.