Project kickoff meetings are an important part of the e-learning process. It’s the first time you meet with stakeholders, SMEs, and anyone else who has a hand in your project to get the ball rolling. But this meeting isn’t just a formality. It’s a crucial first step in starting your e-learning project. To make sure everything gets off to a good start, it’s important to use your time wisely. In this article, I’ll walk you through six key items you should discuss for a successful project kickoff.
1. Find Out Who Has the Final Word
Identifying your primary stakeholder(s) is a crucial part of any successful project. There’s nothing worse than spending weeks designing a course, calling it ready to roll out, and then having someone say, “Now, let’s take it to Bob so he can review it.”
To avoid this situation, you want to know who’s ultimately responsible for approving a project from the start. Touch base with them and find out their criteria for success, then have them review your project periodically. Doing this up front saves time and money on the back end.
2. Agree on Deliverables
The key project deliverables can vary from one project to another depending on a variety of factors, like the e-learning development app you use, the level of course complexity involved, etc. For example, if your client wants to use an app like Rise 360, you know you can skip creating a prototype. That’s because with Rise 360, the visual design and functionality are done for you—all you need to do is select colors and fonts—saving tons of time.
Take time to chat with your client and decide which deliverables make sense for their project. Maybe they don’t need a prototype or a storyboard, but they want a few extra review cycles. As long as you’re both on the same page from the beginning, it doesn’t matter what you decide. Once you’ve made a decision, make sure to document it to avoid extra work, wasted resources, and frustration. After you’ve nailed down the deliverables, it’s time to look at your timeline.
3. Commit to a Timeline
Your project timeline is important because it says when you’ll hand off deliverables to the client. Work directly with your client to build the timeline, and if you make any changes later on, be sure to loop them in right away.
When working on a realistic and attainable project timeline, you should:
- Identify the dates your major deliverables are due
- Note any connected projects or resources owned by other teams that will need to be completed before the e-learning launches
- Outline the due dates of key milestones and when you expect to have the project wrapped up
- Include deadlines for items the client must provide to you, so they know their responsibilities
- Include dates when client reviews need to be completed
- Budget time for rework after each stage of review
- Build in time at the end of major phases as a buffer for any unexpected issues or events, since no project ever goes 100% as planned
Once you’ve got your timeline set, document it along with the project deliverables and share them with your team for greater project visibility. Once you’ve got your timeline nailed down, it’s time to consider your learners and their needs.
4. Think About Your Audience
The cornerstone of any successful e-learning project is a thorough audience analysis. An e-learning audience analysis is a deep dive into job- and context-related details. It teaches you who you’re training and covers important facts, like what your audience knows and how best to communicate with them. For example, what’s their level of prior knowledge? And are there any cultural considerations you should be aware of? If so, knowing this up front will help you design inclusive e-learning that resonates with your entire audience.
While an audience analysis is incredibly helpful, it can’t account for everything. For example, a learner might have a disability they aren’t comfortable sharing with their employer. In that case, you won’t be aware of this disability either and can’t take it into account as you’re creating the course. That’s why it’s a best practice to always design courses that are accessible. This ensures all learners have equal access to your course content.
5. Clarify Learning Objectives
Once you’ve thought through who your learners are and how to design an accessible course, it’s time to drill down and identify learning objectives. A great way to start is by answering these three questions:
- What needs to be learned? (What do they need to be able to do after taking the training?)
- What do they need to know before they can start? (What level of knowledge is required to understand the course content?)
- How will you measure whether they’ve learned what you set out to teach them? (By passing a knowledge check? By performing on-the-job demonstration?)
After you’ve identified and written the learning objectives, make sure to get them approved by your key stakeholders and SMEs. The learning objectives will determine the content you include in your course, so it’s important to get buy-in up front to reduce project scope creep.
6. Think Through Technical Considerations
The technical requirements for e-learning courses can vary greatly from one project to another, so it’s important to know what they are before you get started.
Some good questions to ask are:
- Do learners have access to the technology they need to take the course (for example, computers or mobile devices)?
- Do they have headphones or speakers to listen to audio?
- Do you need to track the course progress and completion?
- How will you share the course with the learner (LMS, video hosting service, browser, etc.)?
- Do the learners have a high-speed internet connection?
Figuring out answers to these questions will help you identify potential issues learners might run into. A good practice is to identify the worst-case scenario and build your training in a way that ensures it will still function even if that happens. After all, a course is only successful if learners can access it!
As you can see, there are many things to consider when kicking off an e-learning project and they are all important pieces of the puzzle. And while it might seem like a lot, covering these six items in your kickoff meeting will ensure you’re off to a good start.
Want more project management tips? Check out these articles:
- 3 Tips for Building an Effective E-Learning Project Team
- Keep Your E-Learning Project Moving Forward with These 3 Tips
- 3 Ways to Ensure Your E-Learning Clients Keep Coming Back For More
And here are some useful templates:
- Basic Project Management Timeline in Excel
- Basic Project Management Plan in Word
- E-Learning Project Estimates Worksheet
- E-Learning Project Plan
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