How to plan your e-learning project with a kick-off meeting

In my experience, one of the best ways to start a new e-learning project is by conducting a kick-off meeting with your stakeholders and subject matter experts. The truth is, it’s one of the few opportunities you’ll have to get everyone involved in the project together to discuss the e-learning course you’re planning to build and agree on their involvement in the project. There are three things you need to do. First, make sure you invite the right people. This includes your project stakeholders, subject matter experts, along with any other designers or developers participating in the project. Second, you want to make sure you ask the right questions.

The questions you ask should help you uncover the total scope of the project, the desired outcomes, the course content and delivery dates and milestones, and really anything else that will affect your ability to develop the e-learning course. And third, you want to make sure you set the right expectations. This includes helping your stakeholders and SMEs understand your development process, when and how they should provide feedback, and anything else they’re responsible for during the project. So the next time you start a new e-learning project, start with a kick-off meeting. It’ll help you answer questions, set expectations, and collect the information you need to build an effective e-learning course.

Tips for working with subject matter experts

Okay, so here’s the thing. You know, it isn’t always fun working together with your stakeholders and material experts. Sometimes, they will be over-controlling and demanding and other times, it’s like pulling teeth to urge them to point out any interest in your project. But the reality is, that you and your stakeholders and material experts need one another. They have the knowledge you would like to unravel their problems. And there are tons you’ll do to make your working relationship with them a productive one. So here are three simple tips for working together with your stakeholders and material experts. Tip number one, focus on their goals. You know, when you first meet with your stakeholders and subject matter experts, they’ll usually talk about all of the things they want their employees to know. And the problem with that is that it usually results in an e-learning course that’s like a glorified PowerPoint style, bullet-point-riddled, information dump. And nobody wants that. Instead, focus your conversations on the business goals your stakeholders and subject matter experts are looking to achieve. From there, you can work backward and focus on the behaviors your learners need to change rather than the information they need to know.

Tip number two, Help them understand their role and your role in the development process. You know, it’s easy to assume your stakeholders and subject matter experts have an understanding of the overall eLearning development process. And while they may have been involved in many different projects, that’s no guarantee they’ll understand how an e-learning course is developed from beginning to end. So with that in mind, take some time to explain what they should expect from you during each phase of the process and what you need from them along the way. This will help you build trust and reduce the likelihood of them trying to control how you do your job. The third and final tip is to help them understand what good learning looks like. You know, after you’ve been working in the field of e-learning for many years, it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows what a good e-learning course looks like. It’s more likely your stakeholders and subject matter experts have had more experience with bad eLearning. Because of this, it’s so important that you make a point to educate them about the qualities of good e-learning design. Show them examples of your work and help them understand that a good e-learning course is more than a PowerPoint presentation with some bullet points and a next button. This will help them see what’s possible and help you earn respect for your abilities. Okay, so the next time you’re working with your stakeholders and subject matter experts on an e-learning project, use these three tips to help set yourself up for success.

How to draft an e-learning project

When you’re starting a new e-learning project, it’s easy to assume that you and your stakeholders and subject matter experts are all on the same page and have the same expectations. But that’s rarely the case. One way to avoid this is by drafting an e-learning project plan, which is a simple document designed to outline all of the important details related to your project. Let me show you an example of a project plan that I’m working on right now. As you’ll see, I’m drafting this project plan in Microsoft Word, but you’ll always use whatever tool works best for you. It’s not important how you create your project plan but rather what you include in it. Here at the highest, you’ll see that I’ve detailed the essential information about my project, including the project name and a summary of the project itself.

 Here I’ve included an inventory of everyone involved in the project, along with side details about their role. This will help make sure everyone knows how they are expected to contribute to the project. Now, down here I’ve included specific information about the e-learning course I’m building, including its purpose, the target audience, business goals, and learning objectives. Finally, I’ve included a high-level overview of the major milestones of the project, including the target date for when the e-learning course will be launched. So that’s a simple overview of what an e-learning project plan looks like and what’s included. As you can see, your eLearning project plan doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to include enough information to keep everyone on the same page. So before you start your next e-learning project, take a few minutes to document everything you’ve agreed to with your stakeholders and subject matter experts by creating a project plan.

How to create an e-learning development timeline

The success of an e-learning project relies on you and your stakeholders and material experts coming together to figure out a standard goal. And with busy schedules, vacations, and conflicting priorities, you would be amazed at how quickly your e-learning course can quickly explode the rails. A great thanks to prevent this is often by creating an e-learning development timeline. Let me show you how. Here’s a timeline I have been performing on for a replacement project that I’m planning. As you’ll see, I’m building it in Microsoft Word, but you’ll use whatever tool you want. Now, an e-learning development timeline consists of three main components. First, as you’ll see here within the Task column may be a list of all of the deliverables and tasks that require to be completed during the project. This includes when you’ll deliver your course for review and when your subject matter experts will return their feedback.

 Second, which is represented in this Owner column, is a list of who’s responsible for delivering each item. You know, it’s common for a subject matter expert to underestimate how much they need to be involved in the project, so when you clearly define it here, it helps keep everyone on the same page. The third and final component, which you can see here in these columns, are the delivery dates for each item. It’s this that creates the actual timeline. Now, you must be realistic about what can be accomplished within any given block of time, so make sure you account for any meetings, days off, other projects, and the availability of your stakeholders when assigning dates to each task. And that’s just one example of how you can create a timeline for your e-learning project. So, before you start your next project, take a few minutes to create a timeline and share it with your stakeholders and subject matter experts. Trust me, it’ll keep your project on track.