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How to avoid mistakes in developing effective E-LEARNING solution

E-learning is the new technologically controlled learning solution, which is also an integral part of ISD or Instructional systems design. One will wonder how the concept of e-learning really came into existence. E-learning’s existence is a result of a cause and effect situation. There was a time when the corporate world realized that training can be a costly and time-consuming affair, especially in industries where employees are required to be knowledgeable so as to perform in the field quickly and efficiently. This was the cause and the effect was that companies started turning towards e-learning to provide an educational or instructional environment in such a way that they are able to manage costs, shorten training duration and also provide a tool, which the employees can access anytime, and from anywhere through the Internet.

 

The question that arises is why so many e-learning solutions fail to perform? Why are there mistakes in developing an effective e-learning solution? What is the core of the problem? Mistakes and problematic situation arises when people fail to identify the possible bottlenecks or when the chosen vendor is not able to deliver an end to end e-learning solution that takes care of the organizational or individual objectives. So how can one avoid these mistakes while developing an effective e-learning solution? One needs to understand that these mistakes can be taken care of through carefully crafted e-learning solution, which can ensure that every employee participating in the training is well trained and receives an influx of knowledge delivered where they need it, when they need it, in a manner that is best suited to their individual learning styles and needs. Another way to avoid mistakes would be to choose a vendor, who can provide a solution that needs to understand the requirement, the objectives and then deliver upon those guidelines. As a thumb rule for success of any e-learning program, companies or organizations should start with finding out an e-learning vendor who has a proven track record, knowledge and expertise in instructional design, broad content offerings, and leading-edge technologies. The vendor should be able to effectively deliver instruction and should have the capability to provide a complete range of support services to manage training from the conception stage to final delivery.
There are certain guidelines to selecting the right vendor. Here’s how one can go about it.

  • The first thing to look for is a vendor with the capability to design custom programs to train your employees on proprietary software or systems.
  • They should be able to provide e-learning solutions with multiple modalities that deliver content to employees with different learning styles and for employees who need varied levels of knowledge based on their job responsibilities. The vendors’ existing e-learning solutions must be engaging and interactive.
  • Look for self-paced content that employs rich-media distance learning, remote labs and simulations to create opportunities for experiential learning.
  • The vendor should have collaboration tools that will allow learners to work together while learning new skills and would be able to interact with skilled instructors in real time.
  • The vendor capability should include live events through which instructors can interact with the employees or students via classroom-style teaching but remotely from anywhere across the globe.
  • The vendor should possess skilled instructional design capabilities to ensure content and modalities are developed effectively and are based on sound learning principles.

Another mistake or problem which comes to the forefront more often, deals with e-learning RFP’s or request for proposal. Based on market research, it has been seen that a lot of vendors face the issue of e-learning RFPs being poorly written, unorganized, and contain a conglomeration of disjointed ideas. It is quite tough for vendors to offer an intelligent, thoughtful e-learning solution if the RFP is unclear and unorganized. The fact of the matter is that most RFP’s suffer from one of more of the following ailments.

  • Poorly Written
  • Illogical
  • Providing minimal  Detail
  • Not imaginative or creative
  • Poorly Scoped
  • Not Addressing a Business Need

Let’s take a look at some of the points in detail. Talking about poorly written RFP’s, it is important to first understand that an RFP is a representation of your organization. You have to take time to conduct proper research into what the organizational requirement is and then proofread the final RFP before sending it to e-learning vendors. It has been seen that most often, the RFP team is under a time constraint and not entirely focused on the writing process. The result is a poor RFP. To salt to the loss, a poorly written RFP with illogical statements and assumptions make the interpretation of the RFP extremely difficult. If you haven't gone through a Readiness Assessment and if the internal needs of the organization is not clear, then you will end up with illogical statements in the RFP. The result is that the vendor will not be able to understand the RFP and will not be able to customize the e-learning solution according to the organization objectives.

Another mistake, which is often overlooked, is not providing the important or necessary details in an RFP. It will not be possible for the vendors to help you solve your e-learning problem if they don’t have the correct data or if they know nothing about your organization, about your technological infrastructure and the proposed budget.  Hence the only way to avoid committing this mistake is by providing relevant and detailed information. The vendor needs to know if your PCs have audio capabilities, what type of browser you are running, if your IT department allows plug-ins etc. You need to provide enough information for the vendors to make an intelligent and informed recommendation. Imaginative and being creative is also a requirement of a sound RFP. You need to push the vendors a little bit by adding some creativity and some "fun" to your request. You can incorporate the idea of gaming and other similar activities into the request. This will help in the long run by keeping the student or employee attention high and focused.

On the other hand a poorly scoped RFP is one in which your needs are bigger or smaller than what is quoted in the RFP. You need to make an effort to request a project and a budget, which is reasonable and appropriately scoped. It’s important to remember that you can't have an elaborate, extensive e-learning management system complete with 100 courses designed, developed and delivered within a month. The crux of the matter is that you need to quantify your needs and keep the budget, timeline, and required tasks aligned in a realistic manner. Last but not the least is addressing a business need. This is the most crucial of them all and probably the most critical. It is necessary to tie your e-learning to a business need. If you don’t have a clear business need driving the project, then the chances of the entire project being in peril is much higher. This will finally lead to discontinued funding, reallocated resources, and a total failure of the e-learning project. So the first thing is to identify the business need and translate it through the RFP to the vendor to derive an effective e-learning solution.

Avoiding such common e-learning RFP mistakes will provide you with a solid foundation on which you can build your e-learning solution. If you have an effective and sound RFP, then it will be easier for vendors to understand and customize according to your need. A robust e-learning solution has the potential to change the face of workplace performance improvement. This will also lead to cost savings and create opportunities to make training more accessible and useful to learners. The bottom line is avoid unnecessary mistakes and bottlenecks and gear up to a fundamentally strong and effective e-learning solution that will strengthen your organizational objectives and add to the existing skill sets.

E-Learning India
E-Learning India
E-Learning India
E-Learning India