I recently came across an article I wrote this past February on building a team for game development, which headlined in the Training Conference daily newsletter called Game On or Game Over for Online Training. I defined the four critical components to effective management of immersive learning simulation (ILS) projects:
- Defining a culture.
- Setting goals.
- Building a team.
- Managing time, cost, and quality.
Upon further reflection, this article really can be applied to most highly interactive development projects.
Let’s analyze how these components can be incorporated into any high-end eLearning project.
Defining a Culture
“The team” has just as much of an impact on outcomes of eLearning projects as the technology. One of the most important tasks for a leader is to create a culture of continuous improvement through effective project management. Improved efficiency in the learning object development process means more dollars will appear on the screen. Each member of the team is a source of expertise in his or her field and should feel confident in sharing their expertise with fellow team members. Project quality will escalate as team members align their personal contributions with the group impact on the project. With each individual working as a team member, we can then look at the make-up of a typical high-end eLearning development group.
Schedules and Goal Setting
The project manager must be able to break down tasks, budgets, and schedules. After the initial brainstorming and project approval, the project manager schedules each project task after estimates and discussions from each team member. Tasks are assigned a cost based on the budget, and no job is too small to be included in the budget. Setting weekly goals is important for keeping large tasks on a schedule, and holding regular meetings is key to incorporating input and buy-in from project stakeholders.
Strong eLearning Teams Are Made Up of
Successful development of interactive eLearning components requires a diverse team of highly skilled professionals.
A quality team should include:
- Instructional designer
- Artistic illustrator
- Flash ActionScript programmer
- Project manager
It also helps to provide the team with tools for brainstorming and documentations.
This interactivity calculator helps a team decide on the various components needed to increase the interactivity or “quality level” of a learning object.
Finally, we round up our discussion by going back to the culture of project management.
Managing Time, Cost, and Quality
The classic time/cost/quality triple constraint applies in all projects. It takes a collective team effort to apply innovative design principles within the confines of the project scope and budget. The team should utilize efficient programming techniques during development and evaluation methodology post-development for improvement in the future. Specific actions to increase the team’s timeliness, efficiency, and production quality include:
- Use a process and project plan with a clearly defined scope.
- Consider Agile development principles of prototypes and iteration cycles
- Use a Web-based team site to communicate with stakeholders.
- Require staff logging of project activity hours for budget accounting.
- Commit to reusing code and graphics for efficient production.
- Consistently use visual representation tools in meetings.
- Communicate on the degree of interactivity and development requirements in terms of talent (time) and resources (cost). (Take a quick look at our interactivity calculator tool).
- Regularly document and reflect on user testing sessions.
Incorporating these steps will help any organization build effective and engaging online learning experiences. Can you comment and add additional actions and tools that help your team “reach the next level?”