They say two heads are better than one. That may be true, but they also say that too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the soup. If your project team is feeling more like the latter, this article will give you some tips to get back on track.
1. Use a Project Management Tool
E-learning projects are complex. And the bigger the team, the more complex they can be. If you want to manage them efficiently, you’ll need to use some sort of project management tool to help you out. There are tons of project management tools out there, but Trello is by far my favorite. Why? Let me count the ways …
- It’s super-easy to use
- It’s a web app, a desktop app, and a mobile app—so you can use it whenever and wherever
- It’s super-collaborative
- It’s highly customizable
- … the list goes on
So how does it work? You create a board and add your to-do items as cards. To those cards you can add:
- Team members
- Task descriptions
- Due dates
- And much more
This makes it easy to assign tasks, ask questions and get answers by “@mentioning” team members, and keep track of the project’s progress, among other things.
If you only have a couple of projects, you could create one board for all your projects and organize your tasks by their current status:
If you have a lot of projects—or if each project is complex and involves many tasks—you might want to create a board like the one above for each project. In that case, it may be helpful to also create a dashboard that allows you to easily see where each project is in the development process, like in the example below:
In the end, what’s important is to find a tool you’re comfortable with that allows you to easily manage your projects.
Looking for more project management advice? Check out these articles:
- Best Practices for Effective E-Learning Project Management
- Project Management Tools & Techniques
- 4 E-Learning Project Management Mistakes and How to Fix Them
- Five Project Management Tips for Creating Online Courses
- 9 E-Learning Project Management Resources to Add to Your Toolkit
2. Set Up a Shared Network for Files
The easiest way to make sure everyone on the project team can access the project files is to put them on a shared network. If you’re not sure how to set up a shared network, check out this tutorial.
However, keep in mind that team members should always copy the file from the network to their local drive before working on it. Working on files directly from a shared drive can cause bugs and even—in some instances—corrupt files. When they’re done working on the file, they should then copy the new version of the file to the shared drive. Check out this article for more information on the importance of working on files locally.
3. Implement a Project Folder Structure
When a large group of people is sharing folders, it’s important to establish some rules to make sure that everyone is able to quickly and easily find the files they need.
For most e-learning projects, you’ll need the same folder structure because you’ll be working with the same types of files. Here’s an example of what a typical e-learning project folder might look like:
Here are some examples of the kinds of files I put in each folder:
- Project charter
- Brand guidelines
- Any PowerPoint presentations or Word documents containing the raw course content
- The storyboard file. This could be a Word document, a PowerPoint file, or even a Storyline file.
- The source file you’re using to create the course. If you’re using Storyline, that’ll be a .story file. If you’re using Rise, you won’t need this folder because your source file will be saved directly in the Articulate 360 web environment.
- Company logo
- Voiceover audio script
- Voiceover audio files
- Sound effects
- Background music
- Video files (.MP4, .FLV, etc.)
- Published course files (web, SCORM, AICC, and/or Tin Can format)
Pro tip: If you create an empty version of this folder structure—with no actual project files in it—you can just duplicate it whenever you start a new project. That way you won’t have to recreate the folder structure every time.
4. Save Multiple Versions of Your Course
Saving multiple versions of your course—also referred to as versioning—is a good practice no matter what size team you’re working with. But the more people you’re working with, the larger the margin for error.
Between miscommunications, clients changing their mind, and co-workers misplacing or overwriting files, it’s a distinct possibility that you could lose hours or even days of work if you don’t put into place a versioning strategy. Duplicating your file every time you work on it will allow you to sleep easy, knowing you can always go back to a previous version of the project.
When naming the different versions of your files, I recommend using this format: yyyy.mm.dd_project_name. That way when you sort a folder by name, the most recent file will appear at the bottom of the list.
Pro tip: If you want to take this a step further, you can add a subfolder in your work files folder called “_old”. Thanks to the the underscore, it will always appear at the top of the list when your folder is sorted by name. Then, before you copy the latest version of the course to the work files folder, drag the previous version of your course to the “_old” folder. When the project is finished, you can delete all the old versions.
Check out this article for more information on versioning as well as other tips for reducing your risk of corrupting or losing project files.
5. Create a Style Guide
When you’re creating a course or series of courses, you want to make sure they all have a cohesive look and feel. This can be a challenge even when working alone, but when working in a large team it gets even more complex. One of the ways to make sure everyone’s on the same page is by creating a style guide. Style guides outline in detail logo placement, font usage, colors, and much more.
For more information on style guides, check out these articles:
6. Create Templates
Once you have a style guide in place, the best way to make sure slide layouts, colors, and fonts are used consistently is to create templates that the whole team can use. If you have an Articulate 360 Teams subscription, everyone on your team can access shared templates without ever leaving Storyline, thanks to the Team Slides feature.
7. Use a Review Tool
One of the biggest pain points of the e-learning development process is the review process. It’s time consuming and generally involves a lot of back and forth, and the more people involved, the longer and more convoluted it tends to be. By using a simple review tool, like Articulate Review, for your internal and external reviews, you can make the whole process faster and easier for everyone involved.
Check out these articles for more tips on optimizing the review process:
- 5 Steps to an Easier E-Learning Course Review Process
- Follow These 3 Tips to Put the “Pro” Back In Your Review Process
The Bottom Line
The more people on the project team, the more important it is to be organized and to make sure everyone is on the same page. Hopefully these tips will help your team reap the benefits of working with a large group of people and keep the drawbacks to a minimum.
What about you? Do you work with a large team? What best practices do you follow to make sure everything runs smoothly? I’d love to hear from you! Leave your tips in the comments section below. And, of course, if you have any questions I’d be more than happy to answer them.
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