I bet you could use more time. I know I could use a few more hours in the day to get things done. I’m always looking for ways to save time when I’m scoping out and launching e-learning projects.
That’s why I’ve developed this list of three questions I ask myself before I start working on a new project. It helps me make sure I’m choosing the simplest way to get great work done. And I think you can earn yourself a few extra hours in the day by asking these strategic questions the next time you’re planning a new project.
Question One: Am I Using the Right Tool for the Job?
Seems obvious, right? But maybe not. Between all the free resources on the internet and tools like Articulate 360, you’ve got tons of ways to create content. And choosing the right tool for the job up front is a key opportunity to save yourself some time.
The first thing to do is decide what you really need to build.
Do you need a course with text, multimedia, and interactions that you can build in minutes and know it’ll look gorgeous on every single device? Then a web-based responsive authoring app like Rise has you covered. It’s all a modern responsive authoring app should be: super simple and web-based with gorgeous lesson types optimized for all screen sizes, devices, and orientations.
If your project is covering a skill best learned by doing, you’ll want to build an immersive experience that lets learners practice in realistic settings. There are tons of e-learning tools that can help you do that, but of course I’m partial to Storyline 360. You’ll be able to easily create compelling interactive scenarios in minutes, especially if you use some of the pre-built templates in Content Library.
Do you just need to create a quick video? Maybe your phone’s camera is all you need to document a new process! Or perhaps you can just make a video tutorial using a simple screen capture tool such as Peek or Replay 360. I also love Preso, which lets you narrate and annotate PDF slides and images right on an iPad. It’s pretty fun to do and perfect for informal training videos.
Or maybe you need a simple presentation-based knowledge nugget with a quick assessment at the end? Then start with a PowerPoint file and use Studio 360 to add a knowledge check. Keep it simple and to the point.
Think like an editor, trimming your project down to what’s really important to help your learners accomplish their goals. Then save yourself time by selecting the authoring tool with features that match the task at hand.
Question Two: Am I Reinventing the Wheel?
Before you lift a finger to start creating something, take a hard look at all the resources you need for your new project. Whether you’re gathering text content, graphics, video snippets, or brand assets, it’s likely you’re not the first person to need them. I always challenge myself to save time by looking for content and assets that I can repurpose.
For example, if you’re creating a narrative script for your e-learning course, ask yourself if this content exists in another format in your organization. Maybe there’s a training presentation, a job aid, or a manual that already clearly outlines the info you’re looking for. Knowing how others have already thought through explaining and communicating your content can really help you jumpstart your production.
When it comes to design, I rarely start from scratch. I make sure to use my company’s branding to set the look and feel for a course, and then I cherry-pick from the bounty of free templates, images, fonts, and other design elements out there. It makes it so much easier to get stuff done.
Wondering where you can find all these delicious freebies? Get started in the E-Learning Heroes downloads hub. We have tons of design assets that can show you how others have solved tough design problems. If you’ve subscribed to Articulate 360, Content Library has hundreds of professionally designed slide templates with interactions already built in. And check out this article for more free tools and resources.
Question Three: How Can I Streamline Communication?
One of the biggest challenges I encounter (and that I hear about from other e-learning creators) is communication.
Creating e-learning is naturally a team effort. You’ve got SMEs, graphic designers, e-learning developers, and other collaborators working together to create online learning content. And usually there are managers who review and approve content along the way.
My strategy for saving time on communication is to plan it out really clearly from the beginning. It helps to agree on who’s going to do what and when, as well as decide which tools you’ll use to communicate so that you aren’t struggling to gather feedback from a million places. Finally, make sure to set deadlines along the way so that everyone knows what they have to do to keep your project on track.
The new tool Articulate Review, which is part of Articulate 360, is another great way to consolidate feedback from multiple places and smooth out the project review process. Be sure to check it out if that’s a struggle for your team!
Getting Stuff Done
Hopefully you found these strategic questions helpful. Got more tips for streamlining projects? Share them in the comments! And don’t miss our project management e-book for help on designing a reproducible process that will help you expedite your projects.