Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Estimating course development times

I have seen a lot of estimates out there regarding development times per hour of e-learning content. It baffles me how some designers, not all, can rattle off "150 hours to develop an hour long course." There may be times where we are pushed in a corner and we need to quickly estimate development time without all the information we require, but to get a realistic estimate I suggest we consider the following:

  • The complexity of the content.

  • Is there any content or literature already written that may be helpful to developing the e-learning content?

  • Multimedia required (e.g. video or audio).

  • Graphics required. Are any already available?

  • The development software required (e.g. development in Flash will take longer than Captivate).

  • Amount of interactive elements included (e.g. games, immersive simulations, software sims, psycho-motor interactives, etc.)

  • Staff's proficiency with the development tool(s) required for developing the project.

  • Access to the subject matter experts (SME) and the designer's familiarity with them. FYI: Each time you work with a particular SME your ability to effectively and efficiently collaborate increases.

  • LMS - Have you created a course that ran successfully on the LMS before? Just because your course is "SCORM compliant" does not mean it will run on all SCORM compliant LMS's. Some tweaking may be required.


It is also important to note that many of the above factors cannot be determined without a needs analysis first. For example, how can we determine what the content will look like and what interactive elements are needed if we do not first identify the training needs. Yes, I know we do not often have the luxury of conducting a thorough needs analysis, but even if it is in the form of an informal conversation with the stakeholders, some analysis and identification of training needs must be made.

Please let me know if there are other considerations that should be added to this list.

FYI: The video studio is completed, but I have not found the time to give it the debut it deserves. I should have something up on the blog very soon.

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