By Prnajalee Thanekar from UPSIDE Learning
Let’s play a quick game of word associations. For each word listed below, think of the 1st thing that comes to your mind.
1. Mobile phone
Guessing the responses to the first two is quite easy. In all probability, ‘Can’t do without’ or ‘Fun’ will feature at the top. Now for the 3rd, let’s be honest. How many of you put ‘boring’ or anything synonymous against ‘learning’? I bet many (or most?).
But does learning have to be that way? Given its influence and importance in our lives – from school to work and beyond, it should be engaging, meaningful and fun! In context of Custom Learning, it means that not just the courseware, but the entire process of learning development should be GREAT.
So what makes a Great Custom Learning project? For starters, sound instructional design, visual sophistication and digital interactionsupported by well-defined processes and project management. But these alone cannot make a Custom Learning project ‘great’. There are a few other critical elements that can help you in taking your Custom Learning project to a ‘great’ new level. We reveal the 5 secrets to ‘Great Custom Learning’ in context of an outsourced project.
1.Value for money
Look for ‘value’ rather than ‘cheap’. A cheap course at the cost of learning retention, engagement and quality is money wasted. One of our earlier posts, Stop Creating Uninspiring eLearning – It’s Driving Your Learners Away!, drives the point home. It draws on insights from 2,000 learners, as surveyed by Towards Maturity’s Learner Voice, which indicates that the number one thing stopping learners from learning online is ‘Uninspiring learning content’. An immediate byproduct of ‘cheap’ learning development.
Cheap could also indicate a hastily developed course that compromises on some key steps of the process, which hurt the projects objectives later.eLearning Development: Haste Makes Waste, highlights this well.
It is important to understand and appreciate that eLearning Development Is An Iterative Process. The more you iterate, the closer you get to an ideal learning solution.
So when getting a course developed, ensure that the Custom Learning Solution:
- Is of the highest quality
- Leverages the vendor’s experience (across industries, geographies and technologies)
- Offers the best of both worlds – low cost and high efficiency
- Is supported by well-defined processes and project management tools
- Is not just great solution but the working experience with the vendor is great too
The 4 key parameters – capability, credibility, costs and continuance, as described in eLearning Outsourcing – How To Select A Vendor?, can help you in evaluating a custom learning vendor.
‘Quality’ somehow paints a picture of a rigorous testing process that comes at the tail end of a project. We have elaborated some areas that need special focus on for Testing Of Multi-Device eLearning Projects. While the importance of a solid QA process cannot be overlooked, it is important to note that quality should not be restricted to the testing process alone; nor should it be tied to the KRA of a single individual. It should begin with the beginning of a project; from the Instructional Design approach to the Project Management process, from the Media Design to the creation of an optimal User Experience, from project conceptualization to the final delivery, and beyond. Quality should be a key element of the entire custom development process as it is what TRULY affects the outcomes of the program in a real sense.
Oftentimes companies ape the latest technologies in an effort to produce a great course. However no amount of technological innovation can substitute simple and sound learning philosophies if the course doesn’t put the user first.
In today’s multi-device world, innovation in learning is indispensible, but if and only if it helps learners do things better; in a simpler way. It should gives them joy, and satisfaction. It should help them improve, and improvise. It should aid in learning, and unlearning.
For an organizational perspective, partnering with a vendor that does regular innovations helps your team to develop new thoughts and skills too. This in turn could help you sell your services better internally or to external clients.
At Upside Learning, Innovation in eLearning is a part of our DNA. We have always been at the forefront of innovation, ready with new age products and services to help our customers.
In the words of Julius Caesar, ‘Experience is the teacher of all things’. In context of Custom Learning development, experience doesn’t translate into the number of years that the vendor has been in business alone, but also includes different technologies, geographies and industries that it has worked in.
Years of experience: In today’s economic scenario, anyone who has survived 4-5 years should be reasonably stable. You may still want to do a financial review to be absolutely sure that the company is profitable and hence stable.
Experience across tools and technologies: This, in most cases, is a natural outcome of the vendor working for a substantial number of clients across geographies and industries, as each client with its unique requirements, challenges the vendor to experiment and master latest tools and technologies.
11 years, 200 clients across 13 industries, 5000+ hours of custom learning development and over 1000 projects later, we have vast experience across a range of tools and technologies, some which we have shared on our blog earlier –
Experience across industries and geographies: Learning methods, technology adoption and utilization, primary devices used for training etc. are unique to industries and geographies. For example, it has been observed that there is less inclination towards virtual classrooms, mobile learning, off-the-shelf eLearning programs, social media, and podcasting in eLearning in the automobile industry. In terms of geography, in Saudi Arabia there is an increasing demand for eLearning, which has been emerging as a substitute of distance education. As a vendor works with larger number of clients across industries and geographies, the learning it acquires in tools, technologies, working style etc. adds to its experience, which can be leveraged to the client’s benefit.
Overall, the experience acquired helps the vendor to anticipate problems in advance, troubleshoot better when needed, and also propose value added inputs based on its previous experiences.
5. Great Partnership
At the heart of each project should be customer satisfaction and delight. And nothing brings this about than a great rapport with the vendor. Think of your vendor as a possible long term partner from the very beginning. Invest in building their understanding of your organization; how it functions, and what the short term and long term goals are; the returns will be well worth the effort.
As a leading provider of Custom Learning Solutions for the past 11 years, we have been practicing these ‘secrets’ and have successfully helped organizations stay ahead of the race. Today, over 100 organizations across the globe trust us to create Great Custom Learning for their learners. We don’t stop at good. We #DoGreat.
Here’s a video that summarizes what we believe to be the ‘Secrets to Great Custom Learning’.