Managing the many moving parts of an eLearning project can be a serious challenge. If you find yourself struggling with budgets, schedules, or stakeholder expectations, here are my top 4 strategies for effective eLearning project management.
1. Clarify the Learning Outcomes
Clear learning outcomes aren’t just the foundation of good instructional design. They’re also a useful tool for keeping your eLearning project on track. Without them, it’s all too easy for a planned 15-minute course to morph into a 45-minute monster.
Mapping content to learning outcomes is an effective way to avoid this. It helps guide discussions in the early stages of the project, preventing content bloat and subsequent waste of development resources. Whenever there is a suggestion to add more content, the first question to ask is, What learning outcome does this serve? Anything that doesn’t align can be identified straight away, and the time and resources saved can be considerable.
Once you’ve settled on the learning outcomes, it’s important to keep them front-and-centre throughout the project. An effective way to do this is to include them in the storyboard. Adding an extra column to map each row or section to its relevant learning outcome enables reviewers to understand the ‘why’ of every inclusion and gives them a sense of the bigger picture when providing feedback.
2. Seek Feedback Early
Consulting with the right people at the right time is essential. Input from key people early on will help you avoid major revisions in the later stages of a project when changes tend to be most costly and time-consuming.
The best time to get feedback on your eLearning is when you’re still in the storyboarding phase. The storyboard should be enough to give reviewers a clear picture of the content, structure and look of the project, and incorporating their feedback at this stage is as easy as changing words on a page or updating an image. Making the same updates to a working version is a bit like moving a kitchen after you’ve built a house. Depending on the media and assets you’re working with, it might require new voiceover, new graphics, or a total reprogram of functionality – all of which require more time and money.
Sometimes not everything in the storyboarding translates as intended, but gathering a wide range of input at this stage is essential if you want to keep your budget and schedule under control. As a general rule, everyone who needs to review the eLearning before you roll it out to learners should be part of the storyboard review.
3. Set Firm Deadlines for Feedback
Review stages often pose the biggest threats to an eLearning development schedule. Even when your review group is small, it can be a challenge to get everyone’s feedback on time. People are busy, and your project might not be as high on their priority list as is it on yours.
A practical solution is to hold review meetings. Not only does this create a firm deadline for feedback, but it saves time going back-and-forth getting feedback on feedback, or debating the merits of this or that via email. When it comes to group review, nothing beats real-time collaboration. For efficient and productive meetings, learning outcomes can be used to guide the discussion.
Tip 4: Send Regular Progress Reports to Stakeholders
Sending regular progress reports encourages everyone to stay on schedule. It’s especially important for teams working remotely – if your development team or reviewers don’t hear from you for a week or two, they’re more likely to think the project has stalled and less likely to prioritise it. Progress reports are evidence that the project is moving along and this helps maintain momentum.
You can minimise the reporting workload by using a template or scheduling software that’s easy to update. Depending on the size and scope of the project, a few bullet points in an email might be enough to provide a clear picture of where things are at.
The timing of your progress reports is also important. All too often, project managers send progress reports as a way of holding teams to account after key dates have been missed. Sending progress reports from the very beginning of the project establishes accountability from the get-go, which can help prevent the schedule from derailing in the first instance.