Allocating course duration

Hi, how do you determine the duration it should take the learner for an elearning course. Do you have an approx number of mins per screen depending on volume of content? Do you add up the total number of words in the course and place a certain timing per interaction? number of quiz questions? Please let me know your formula. Thanks.

6 Replies
Joe Waddington

If the course is narrated, I will use a script timer to estimate how long just the narration is. (Average narration speed is about 3 words per second) Then I add time depending on how many interactive slides I have in the course.

If its a text on the screen course, then I figure out the number of words in on the screen or in the course, and divide it by 250 (the average reading speed words per minute). Then I add time for interactive slides.

It should get you pretty close to what your final product will be. 

Judy Nollet

When a course doesn't include timed narration, I'd say it's not a matter of estimating seat time; it's guesstimating. There are so many variables, including the learner's reading speed, previous knowledge, and their motivation.  That's one reason to provide a range.

I start with the approximate number of words. Then I divide that by 200 (which, according to what I've seen, is an average reading speed with 60% comprehension) to get the short end of the estimated range. I also divide it by 120 (the low end of a conversational speaking rate) to get the high end of the range. That's especially helpful if your audience includes those for whom English is a second language. 

I usually don't do extra calculations for interactions and/or quiz questions, because the range helps account for that time. I would, though, add a bit of extra time for complex courses, e.g., the learner has to look up information, perform calculations, etc.