How Long Does It Take to Develop an eLearning?

The Scenario:

You are an eLearning developer for a small firm that works exclusively in the cannabis industry making eLearning’s about different elements of the industry like growing processes, botany, pests, business strategy, marketing, etc.


Your Project Manager (PM) has tasked with creating an eLearning on invasive insects that can cause harm to crops. You have been told that you need to have the eLearning ready asap. The PM asks you how long it will take to get the training done.


What Do You Say?

The answers vary. That is, there is no right thing to say because you won’t know when they are assigning you the project. Just become comfortable with that feeling of not knowing.


It’s okay if you don’t know. Why would you?


Once you become comfortable with the feeling of not being a psychic, there are many ways a Developer can answer this question. Some people say they need to see the content, others say when does it need to be finished by, you can even give a random amount of time.


Believe me, all of things have been said. I’ve said them personally, I’ve been told these things by others, that’s just a part of business in general.


The truth is that development time varies constantly and there is no way to give an estimate until you know more about the project. So, it’s best to answer the question honestly and don’t hold back on the reality of the development. You certainly shouldn’t make the process longer than it needs to but don’t set goals and expectations you can’t follow through on.


I always stick with being transparent and specific about what needs to be done before I can give an accurate answer.


So, try to answer this question after you’ve done some upfront research.

Research means learning as much as you can about the moving elements of the project. Assets, people, schedules, software, etc. This will allow you to give a more specific time to complete.


If you can’t do get a lot of information, then you need to try and use your best estimation skills. Think of an answer and add 50% more time or double it.


What Research Needs to be Done?

That also varies, but here are some things that you can consider:


  • Software – what software does the course need to be developed in?

  • Does it require additional coding? HTML? JAVA? What needs to be used.

  • Do you have the expertise to use certain tools? If not, you will need to find someone to help or learn quickly.

  • How complex is the content? How much is included? Are the storyboards done?

  • Interactivity levels...what are they? Level 1, 2, 3…4? You will usually need to determine this.

  • Is there audio? Video? Are the assets made or will you need to make those as well?

  • What is the review process? Who will review? How many rounds?

  • Does it need to be 508 Compliant?

  • What are the design requirements, etc. Even though you are a developer, you will need to have a full understanding of Instructional Design if you want to extend your range of value to projects and clients.


You should at least know these things up front. But this is by no means a comprehensive list, it’s a starting point. Your project my require less or more.


So, What’s the Takeaway?


The amount of time/work it takes to figure out the answer to these can range from a day to weeks or months. It just depends.


You will get a better understanding of development times after the details reveal themselves. So, collect as much as you can and estimate time based on what you know and your ability to perform what needs to be done.


Delegate as needed if you can. If not, you may need to power through. But never overpromise on turnaround time. You’re setting yourself up for failure. You don’t need to push yourself; the development process pushes you enough.


Learn as you go.


Speed and quality do a dance. Think Yin and Yang.


Happy Developing!

-Brian.

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