Getting the best from an elearning supplier
February 17, 2021
When your charity invests time and money into commissioning a commercial supplier to create elearning, they must get a good return on their investment. In terms of the module produced and what was learnt throughout the process.
In this article, we will set out some of the ways that you can make the most of this type of engagement. This is based on our experiences supporting charities over the last 10-years.
One of the biggest benefits of working with an external supplier to produce your elearning is that they will bring to the project all the things you don’t have. So whilst you are the expert on your learners, your brand and the topic, your supplier will have the knowledge and experience of producing hours and hours of elearning. This means your project brings together two dream teams that both benefit from each other.
1. When in your initial discussions with a new supplier, it is worth asking to ‘meet’ your Instructional Designer. This is the person you will probably have the most contact with, so you must be comfortable that they understand your needs and that you feel able to work well with them.
2. Ensure you are clear with the supplier what authoring tool you would like them to use when creating your elearning. If you use a particular authoring tool internally, ask them to create your module in this tool and, more importantly, make sure that they send you the relevant source files at the end of the project.
3. Before starting the project, communicate your requirements with the supplier to ensure you have a clear, shared understanding. This will normally take place in a project kick-off meeting. Your supplier should have a set of questions to focus the discussions around the project background, learner needs, existing resources, project management, and timescales.
4. After this discussion, make sure they send you, in writing, full details of what has been agreed. This should include the project aims, the agreed length of the resource/s, interaction levels, media types, accessibility, project outputs, and milestones. This will shape everything you do and measure the success or failure of your project.
5. Based on the milestones, the supplier will create a project timetable. This will allow everyone to schedule their time so that they are available when needed. For example, this will include agreed dates when the supplier will deliver outputs so that the client can schedule a time to review. This helps to avoid projects grinding to a standstill because key people are on holiday or do not have the time to contribute.
Top tip: Trust their process and try to avoid asking them to amend it unless it is really necessary. The supplier will have the knowledge and experience to know what works.
6. Any source documents, text, or files should be sent to the supplier as soon as possible. This might include training materials, documents, web pages, or templates. These documents will be invaluable for the supplier when putting together an outline or storyboard. They will allow them to carry out a gap analysis to identify where information is missing and needs to be created.
7. During the project, it is important to stay in touch with brief, informal updates on progress. This helps to keep communication channels open. This might be as simple as a weekly email or for more complex projects, regular telephone calls might be appropriate.
8. You will be sent documents and live versions of the elearning to review throughout the project. What these are and how many you receive will depend on the supplier’s process. It is important to recognise that reviewing these modules is your opportunity to identify and raise any issues, changes, or concerns. These reviews should not be rushed, so the review team must allow enough time to complete them. A good rule to apply is that a review will take around two thirds longer than the module itself. So, reviewing a 30-minute module will take around 1.5 hours to complete.
9. After the project has been completed, make sure you receive all the relevant source documents from the suppliers. This should include the relevant SCORM package and the authoring tool source. Make sure you save these source documents in a shared area so they don’t get lost. Even if you don’t have a licence for the authoring tool, you might do in the future, or you can send these to another supplier when updates are required.
Top tip: If you create elearning internally, make the most of the source files you are sent. Import slides into future projects as instant templates.
10. At the end of the project, when you have all the relevant files and the module is launched, you will probably find it useful to have a post-project review call with the supplier to discuss any lessons learned. This will benefit the supplier who will receive valuable feedback for future projects and the client who may benefit by becoming an even better client for future projects.
I hope you have found these suggestions useful. As you might expect, we try to always follow these rules 🙂
If you have experience in working with other external suppliers we would love to hear your tips for making the most of this relationship so we can incorporate them into our process. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.