In the first part of this three post series, we recommended some strategies for you to start planning how to go about developing your eLearning platform solution. Today, we will look at how to start mapping out your requirements for your platform.
Building piece by piece
Consider the various components that make up an eLearning platform. If you have access, experiment with one or two existing eLearning platforms (some organizations and technology providers have demo activities you can trial). Whether or not you find the presentation engaging or the content useful, spend some time thinking about the different components required to make possible the delivery of those activities to the end-user. You’ll probably come up with a list of components that includes elements (sometimes overlapping ones) for specific activities and general platform development along the lines of the following:
This list may seem overwhelming, but don’t despair! Your organization doesn’t have to tackle these components alone or even be primarily responsible for all of them. For now, identify your ideal plan for:
- How you’ll ask your member network to participate as subject matter experts
- Who will have day-to-day responsibility for each of the components above
This preparatory framework will help highlight where having an optimized user interface requiring little or no training will be most important (i.e., for learners and authors) and where in the process you can accept a higher level of system expertise (and therefore a greater time investment in system training) in order to achieve the platform functionality you desire. It’s also important to acknowledge the human resource costs associated with building and maintaining an eLearning platform—this step will help you evaluate potential technology providers on the level of service they are able to supply in populating the platform with content and maintaining the platform after launch.
Plan for the level of assistance you need upfront
eLearning platforms are not just resource-intensive during the development and launch phases; they’re also going to require maintenance and updating. Make sure before going out to potential providers that you have a plan for how those ongoing efforts will be resourced. Will it be a full-time person on the society staff? Will the provider do the technical work?
Write it down
Writing down the specifics is important throughout the eLearning platform development process, whether you’re deep in requirements gathering or negotiating a contract with your chosen technology provider. Good initial requirements documentation will save you lots of headaches down the road. If you’ve followed our recommendations, you’re already well on your way to developing a list of basic requirements.
Next have a session with your internal development team where you identify the level of priority for those requirements: is a given requirement critical? important? nice to have? Think strategically during this exercise.
It’s only after you have your requirements well detailed that it will be helpful to start charting the capabilities of specific technology providers against those requirements. The tendency is to label everything “critical,” but chances are you won’t find a provider who can deliver everything you want right away, so being realistic and pragmatic about what you need right now and what you would be happy to see in a few years’ time will help you find the provider best suited to your needs.
In part 3 of this series next week, we’ll get to some of the issues you’ll want to consider when talking to potential technology vendors.
Image Credit/Source:Zadorozhnyi Viktor/Shutterstock
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