Typically, buyers of learning materials want the best products at the least cost, in the shortest time cycles, with the minimum risk and from the best vendors. They also want ‘continuity’ from those from whom they buy.
Online learning is characterised by being produced by multi-disciplinary teams, to demanding project management requirements and – in software terms – in relatively small order sizes. This makes it difficult for online learning producers to grow or, indeed, to stay in business over the longer term.
As budgets get tighter, buyers look more closely at their key criteria for buying and that puts pressure on suppliers. It also suggests suppliers need to look and think ‘global’. There are a number of benefits to be gained from ‘going global’, or internationalising your online learning materials development requirements.
Internationalisation brings shorter time cycles and faster development for online learning materials. Using a global producer reduces the risk to the buyer – that the producer will not have the skills or resources to produce the required materials and may not have a robust enough business to provide continuity of after-sales service and maintenance.
Global producers – with a global reputation to keep – should produce e-learning materials of a higher quality with fewer defects that smaller producers. And, they should be able to keep costs to a minimum.
There are 12 steps in learning design:
- Client brief/study
- Concept definition
- Interface and usability design
- Software decisions
- Content and interactivity design
- Multimedia requirements definition
- Template design
- Micro storyboarding
When suppliers go ‘global’ they have to decide how to do all of these steps in a way that is related to each particular product and which incorporates clients’ wishes. One way to do this is to have task lists, then have templates and checklists for each stage and also have an additional level of review to take account of cultural and geographical differences between the producers and users of the e-learning materials.
As a global producer of e-learning materials, you need to ensure that the end user has access to the technology to use the materials you have developed. There needs to be an on-site co-ordinator for the users, along with local subject matter experts, local editors and end-user workshops. There also needs to be strong project management, not just taking account of but also exploiting the time differences between geographies – for example, using different time zones to reduce the time taken to develop the e-learning materials.