Developing Quality eLearning at the Speed of Sound


Quick eLearning development isn’t a new idea, but it is a topic of constant conversation. As instructional designers are pushed to create content faster and deadlines are moved up, the concept of creating courses at the speed of sound becomes more commonplace. But how can you prevent a “course factory?” This topic is discussed by Cathy Moore and describes an employer who values course quantity over quality.

Use Standard Benchmarks

Start out by determining an average development time across the whole industry. This way you’ll know how you compare against eLearning professionals in similar situations. This can also give you a baseline to know if you need to improve your processes by decreasing or increasing time spent on an individual project. One of the most respected and shared reports on development time was by the Chapman Alliance in 2006. This report stated that building basic training requires an average of 79 hours, intermediate training requires an average of 184 hours, and advanced training needs an average of 490 hours. Basic is described as “including content pages, text, graphics, perhaps simple audio, perhaps simple video, test questions” and typically refers to PowerPoint to eLearning conversion. Intermediate training (or interactive training) includes the same content as basic with an increase of 25% in terms of exercises and interaction. Advanced includes highly interactive courses that will contain aspects of a basic and interactive course with more interactions such as simulations and games. In the eLearning 101: A Practical Guide eBook, a similar definition was constructed under the terms passive, intermediate, and moderate. When looking at your team’s course development, how long does each subset take? Are you above or below the average?

Above the Average

If your development time is taking more than the average, consider this a good opportunity to make process improvements. Take a step back and look at what your team is doing. Are they doing it effectively or are there ways to speed up the process? One of the easiest ways to speed up a process is to create commonly used assets such as email templates, PowerPoint presentations, and course templates. Having a standard way of approaching these situations will reduce guess work and also speed up development time. One of things suggested in our eLearning 101: A Practical Guide eBook is to conduct a meeting before you start creating a course to go over the general process and determine basic information. Why not create a meeting template that addresses the basic information and asks the common questions? Other ways to reduce time include:

  • A pre-created storyboard template that can easily be adapted to your needs
  • Creating sample color schemes to use as suggestions
  • Making a repository of organized stock images, video, and sounds to reduce the amount of time spent searching for appropriate course objects
  • Dedicating an area of your work space for audio recording that doesn’t need to be taken down or adjusted each time a new recording should take place
  • Email templates for reviewing content that include instructions on how to easily access software such as ReviewLink™

Below the Average

Being below the average time spent on development means you’ve either streamlined your process into efficiency or that you’ve run the risk of becoming a course factory. You’ll know you may have unintentionally become a course factory if any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you:

  • I don’t question the client or subject matter expert’s decision
  • I only create courses to transfer knowledge
  • Training is a one-time offering
  • Once I publish the training there is nothing else I need to do
  • I don’t create dynamic content
  • I use the same course format and template for every project

To keep from becoming a course factory, your development and creation practices should always evolve. Frequent conversations should happen throughout the project to make sure pertinent information is always under consideration. Each project should be a new build with a new mind set to make sure content is fresh and engaging. The eLearning 101: A Practical Guide eBook recommends that you take extra time before a project begins to make sure you’re starting the project off right.

Download the free eBook now to learn more about course planning and development.