$1 Million e-Learning no more…

April 15, 2009 Sarah Danzl

I’ve been in the training and development business for nearly 20 years now. Things certainly have changed a lot in that time.

My first job out of graduate school was as an Interactive Designer for a small but growing multimedia development firm. I was hired to be part of a multi-million dollar project for a major automotive manufacturer. We were creating CD-ROM based training for service technicians. Each course cost over $1 million dollars! They were fantastic, cutting-edge, pushing the envelope in every way.

Fast forward to today… budgets and timelines are shrinking, your audience is global and change is a constant thing. Combine that with the fact approximately 70% of all training is still delivered instructor- led and what are you to do? Now-a-days it’s about getting something up quickly that is the right content, in the right size to the right device so employees and customers can do what they need to do.

So how do you get there? One approach being used by a number of our clients is a strategy of “iterative” improvement, moving in stages from pure instructor-led to a blended model. The idea is to start with your instructor-led materials… be they Word, FrameMaker or PowerPoint, and get them into a single-source content model. This will allow you to “publish” all of the classroom materials (Instructor Guide, Student Guide, Slide Deck, Wall Chart, Handouts, Classroom Setup, etc.) and ALSO get your first “iteration” on e-Learning, what you might refer to as “e-Learning Lite”. Once you have a structure to react to, you can look for places where the instructor led approach just doesn’t work online. Once you’ve found places that need something different for online delivery, you can start to create alternative content with interactions and richer media. From the single source of content, you can now tag those pieces only to be used in the e-Learning and keep the original content for the instructor-led course.

For example, let’s say that you’re teaching a technical product. In the instructor-led version of the course, you might do a live demo but for the e-Learning you’d use a recorded demo. Or in an instructor-led course you might have students identify parts of a piece of equipment by pointing to it in the room, but online you could create an image map to accomplish the same thing. In addition, maybe you add some audio narration to cover the highlight of each section or some video where needed.

Rather than trying to build the “$1 Million course”, this approach immediately let’s you exploit your existing content, get some benefits of moving on-line and make improvements as your budget permits. In other words, start where you are today and make things better over time.

About the Author

Sarah Danzl

Sarah manages the public face of Xyleme, overseeing all PR and Customer Communication. She is a specialist in written communications, media relations and reputation management. One of her favorite aspects of her job at Xyleme is working with the customers on on joint initiatives, including award applications.

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