2 Replies
Tim Slade

Hi Kiren!

This is a loaded question and I'm sure you'll see a lot of different opinions regarding this! While there a ton of different articles, formulas, and opinions about the development time for a course, I've never found any of them to be truly accurate. This is because each course, each client, each stakeholder, and each developer is totally different. I think there are too many variables to create a one-size-fits-all model for eLearning development times.

For example, here are just some of the variables that affect development times:

  • The complexity of the topic: Is this a simple concept to teach, or this a highly-complex topic?
  • The state of the raw content: What is the state of the raw content being provided to you? Is it well-organized or do you need to sift through it and remove a bunch of nice-to-know information?
  • The time required to teach the topic: How long will it take to teach this topic? Do you need multiple courses or multiple learning objectives to effectively teach this topic?
  • The complexity of visual design: Are you using a pre-built template or do you need to design one from scratch? Are you using stock photos and basic icons or do you need to create custom illustrations?
  • The types of multimedia: Do you need to produce video and audio content for the course or will it be simple text and images?
  • The complexity of interactivity: Will the course be interactive? If so, will it be simple click-to-reveal interactions or complex branching scenarios and simulations?
  • The cooperation of your stakeholders: Will your stakeholders, subject matter experts, and other reviewers provide timely and specific feedback or will you need to spend a lot of time getting feedback from them?
  • The number of review cycles: Will you only need two or three review cycles or will it require multiple review cycles with multiple stakeholders?
  • The ability / efficiency of the developer: Are you developing the course or passing it to another developer for creation? Is the developer (you or someone else) well-versed in the tool being used to create the course or will it take extra time to master?

I could keep going and going if I wanted to! :) My point is, these questions are usually different for every single project. My suggestion is to break each step in the project into specific tasks and estimate the time required for that task, accounting for the above variables.

For example, I usually scope my projects by estimating according to the following tasks:

  • Kickoff meeting, analysis, and collaboration with SMEs - # hours.
  • Alpha draft of the storyboard - # hours.
  • Implementation of storyboard edits from alpha review - # hours.
  • Implementation of storyboard edits from beta review - #hours. 
  • Alpha draft of the developed course - # hours.
  • Implementation of course edits from alpha review - # hours.
  • Implementation of course edits from beta review - # hours.
  • Final edits and quality assurance - # hours.
  • Publication and implementation of the final course - # hours.

While the above tasks may vary from one project to another, estimating to these tasks usually works for me. I hope this is helpful! I'm sure you'll see a lot of different opinions from others!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Tim