4 Requirements For Finding The Right People For Your eLearning Project
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Finding The Right People For Your eLearning Project

Training teams with no eLearning experience are sometimes tasked with eLearning projects. But this type of project requires a certain level of expertise to avoid costly mistakes. The proper knowledge is essential to making the right decisions for the project. Also, without that knowledge, it will be difficult to assess the skills of new hires. Following are some tips for finding the right people for your eLearning project.

1. They Need To Know How To Evaluate The Impact Of Their Decisions

For instance, a director decided unilaterally that the online courses in video format for clients would be hosted on the company’s server, without evaluating the impact. The company was producing software and there was a call center on site, where agents were remotely logging onto clients computers to troubleshoot software problems. Also, at lunchtime, most employees throughout the company were watching YouTube videos, which slowed down the internet service substantially. Adding bandwidth was out of the question, as well as dedicating part of the bandwidth to eLearning. If that plan had gone forward, the online learning would have been a disaster for client learners because it would have been extremely slow or even completely frozen during peak periods.

It is therefore very important to realize what the impact of decisions will be when dealing with an eLearning project, because they can have major repercussions on the project.

2. They Need To Have eLearning Knowledge

Another example is a newly hired training manager who was supposed to be an eLearning expert because she was managing such a team in her previous job. Her lack of knowledge became apparent when she asked me why we couldn’t put a Learning Management System (LMS) into a course. I was speechless for a few seconds and, after my initial explanation was not understood, I had to use the following metaphor: When you enter into a bookstore, there are books on bookshelves. The books represent our courses and the bookshelves are the LMS. You can put the books onto the shelves, but you cannot put the bookshelves into the books. The manager finally understood.

During a later conversation discussing how her previous team was organized, she proudly stated that she didn’t “need to know everything” because she had a large team of people and she only needed to ask for something for it to be done. Such a position would make it quite difficult to verify the work performed by team members…

3. They Need To Have eLearning Experience

Furthermore, people who lack eLearning experience often underestimate the work required to produce quality online courses. Unless one has worked on such a production, it’s difficult to assess the time and effort that will be required, especially given all the options that are available on the market. Classroom courses need to be adapted in order to become efficient online courses, because there will be no trainer to answer questions. Usually, the duration of online courses is shorter, because there is no need for the trainer to repeat since learners can rewind and go forward at their own pace. But online courses require more preparation and planning because we need to anticipate questions and add a certain level of interactivity to keep the material interesting. I saw some instances where managers asked people to “quickly produce a few little courses with animation”, without even having any idea of the work involved in producing animations, and without giving any thought to how and where these courses would be delivered online. We need to know how the material will be made available when designing it, because various technologies have their own features and limitations.

4. They Need To Understand The Various eLearning Roles Of Team Members

Another important aspect is recruiting the production team members.

It happens that people confuse online course production with computer programming and have no idea of what mastering the various skills mean. This is particularly obvious when reading certain job postings on the Internet. Companies are looking for an “eLearning Specialist” who can implement, configure and troubleshoot Learning Management Systems. That person must also be able to do a training needs analysis, design the courses according to instructional design principles including ADDIE, Kirkpatrick  and Bloom methods while taking into account adult learning principles. They must be knowledgeable in HTML, HTML5, XML and ActionScript. And let’s not forget the ability to produce multimedia material including animation, audio and video editing, and some graphic design skills to apply to courses and to the LMS user interface, as well as some JavaScript and PHP programming skills and the ability to create APIs. Of course, there is also some impeccable technical writing, proofreading and translation required, and all this for a sub-par salary. One can certainly have many different skills, but this is quite a mandate! And this is not an isolated case. It’s a fact that eLearning projects require several different skills, but there are not that many versatile people.

Understanding various eLearning roles is paramount to a project. An eLearning specialist with many years of experience can certainly install and configure an LMS, and then produce online learning material including video, audio and animation. Therefore, an eLearning project can be launched quickly and be very affordably. But the Specialist can also work with clients on larger projects and, the larger the project, the more the tasks will be specialized.

It should be noted that people usually work in fields that are in direct relation with their personality. For instance, programmers are not necessarily good presenters. Have you ever read some software documentation prepared by programmers to learn how to use the software? This is why serious companies hire technical writers to prepare documentation and instructional designers to prepare courses. The material must be easy to understand and integrate.

Final Word

People who are knowledgeable when it comes to eLearning know that it’s hard to find versatile and competent people to work on projects and can appreciate their skills. As they say, it takes competence to recognize competence.

The next articles will discuss the various roles found among eLearning teams and clarify production tasks. We will also explore ways to launch eLearning projects quickly and affordably while taking advantage of available technologies.

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