How to Estimate Your eLearning Course Development Time
While you may have a firm grasp on the content, the images, and the interactive elements you'll be including in your eLearning deliverable, figuring out how much time you'll need to complete all of these tasks can be somewhat challenging. After all, you'll want to ensure that you're providing your client with an accurate quote and that you've accounted for every hour you'll have to devote to the design and development process. But have no fear, this guide will explain how to estimate your eLearning course development time and will also give you step by step look at what you need to assess throughout the process.
- Research and planning.
This is the first step in the process, and it also happens to be the most important. This is the time when you research your target audience and begin creating the eLearning course objectives and then overview them. You gather your team and assign responsibilities, as well as expectations. You gather all of your tools, so that you know what and how to use each one to the best of your ability. All of these can take a significant amount of time. In order to estimate this step, you'll want to sit down with your team and figure out how much time they'll need to complete their end of the bargain. Also, determine how much time you'll need to wrap up the research. For example, if you are going to conduct surveys and in-person interviews, all of these tasks will need to be included in the time estimate.
- Storyboarding and graphic selection.
The storyboard is the heart of every eLearning deliverable. It serves as a guide for both the project manager and the rest of the team. Therefore, it can take a fair amount of time to create this detailed overview, but it's worth every minute. Don't underestimate the storyboard process when calculating your time, as this won't allow you to devote enough hours to actually mapping out the eLearning course. During this step you'll also have to choose a template, graphics, and any other important design element that you'll need, which can also be time consuming. This is due to the fact that the design will be carried throughout the entire eLearning course, meaning that it must reflect the brand image and the theme of the subject matter, not to mention that also every individual element must tie together.
- Content creation and instructional design.
There's a lot of work that goes into the content creation and the instructional design of an eLearning course. A variety of tasks must be accounted for when determining this aspect of your eLearning course development time. For example, you have to ask yourself “should I hire a subject matter expert to ensure that I include all of the key concepts?” Or, “do I need a professional writer to make the copy informative and engaging, and how should the layout of every module be?” You'll want to speak with all parties involved, whether they are members of your team or eLearning freelancers to whom you have outsourced a part of the project, to determine how much time every task will take.
- Multimedia production.
Creating rich multimedia for your eLearning course, such as videos, podcasts, effective scenarios, and games require a lot of time. As such, you will need to look at each element individually in order to figure out how many hours each one will take. For example, if you are creating a slide show that features music, think about how much time you'll require to develop each slide, add the proper content, and then integrate the music, so that it corresponds to the mood of the slide show as it progresses. Also, think about how much time it will take to choose the proper graphics, to edit them and then to integrate those as well. As you can see, even something as seemingly simple and straightforward as a presentation can become quite an ordeal in terms of resources and working hours.
- Programming and authoring.
These technical aspects of the eLearning course design must also factor into your time estimate. If these things aren't your specialty, then you'll need to speak with a programmer or an instructional designer who will be authoring the eLearning course, to get a clear idea of how much time they will need to complete the task at hand. Also, you'll have to consider whether or not they are knowledgeable of the authoring tool(s) you'll be using. If not, then training time will also have to be factored into the equation. If the programming language is more complex or the eLearning course requires a great deal of coding, then you'll have to consider this before you calculate your eLearning course development time estimate.
- Testing and revisions.
Finally, it's time to assess how long it will take to proofread, test the finished eLearning course, and to carry out revisions, if necessary. This step of the process may include focus groups, individual testing sessions followed by interviews or surveys to get invaluable feedback, and even client demonstrations. Then, if errors or glitches are found, you'll have to make time for revisions and any changes that the client requests. They may also need you to help them operate the eLearning course in the beginning, until they grow accustom to its nuances, which means that you'll need to set aside time to show the HR department or learning coordinator how to access the eLearning course, etc.
Remember to always expect the unexpected when you estimate your eLearning course development time. Leave room for project emergencies, mistakes, or additions that you may not have anticipated, in order to ensure that your bid is always spot-on, in both terms of money and time.
In addition, mistakes can be costly, both in terms of money and time. The article Common Mistakes In The Development Of An eLearning Course highlights 10 common mistakes that you'll want to avoid when developing an eLearning course, in order to stay on- budget and on-deadline.
Also, would you like to know the most important factors to keep in mind when estimating you eLearning course development time? The article Important Factors for Estimating eLearning Course Development Time features the most important factors that you should take into consideration.
Last but not least, would you like to create eLearning courses that are just long enough to achieve the desired learning objectives, but still short enough to avoid learner boredom and frustration? You are more than welcome to read the article 6 Tips To Estimate Your eLearning Course Length.