How long to develop eLearning?

VNU's Online Learning eNews just arrived by email. Last week a reader asked how many hours it takes to develop one hour of e-learning. Or a page. Or a sim.

My answer:

Jay Cross ( [email protected] ) notes
that the reader's query "presumes that learning should be
measured in hours or pages rather than outcomes.

"Isn't a short course worth more than a long one that
teaches the same thing?" asks Cross, a Berkeley, Calif.,
e-learning consultant.

"The query is akin to asking how long it takes to
write a poem," he says. "It depends on the poet --
and the quality of the poem.

"Most of us could labor a lifetime and not write
a line the quality of Robert Frost.

"On the other hand, I could easily produce hours
of e-learning every day, assuming that quality is
not an issue."

Posted by Jay Cross at December 17, 2002 03:50 AM | TrackBack

Seems like there are two questions here. 1. What constitutes "one hour of e-learning?" and 2. How long does it take to develop "one hour of e-learning?"

I think these same questions are hold-overs from CBT development, where courses were [and still are] usually measured in "seat time." CBT development companies typically bid on projects based on finished hours of CBT, as if each learner will complete the course in the same amount of time. For example, it might cost you $30,000 to have Company A build you a "one-hour" CBT. Then that company has page and interactivity metrics that dictate how much content fills that one-hour course, as well as how long it takes to create those pages and interactions. E-learning companies have followed suit, it seems.

The irony, of course, is that CBT [and a lot of e-learning, of course] is promoted as being self-paced. Theoretically, each learner can move through the course at his or her own pace. So how do you know it's really a "one hour" course?

I suppose this is where business needs come in. It's difficult to quantify learning material either by outcome or by seat/development time. But maybe development companies are just giving their customers what they need, a way to measure what they're buying in terms that are easiest for them to understand and to make comparisons between vendors.

Have a good day.

Posted by: Lori Mortimer at December 17, 2002 02:22 PM

Lori, you are too kind. Neither of the two questions are legitimate. Duration is an inappropriate meausre of learning. The issue is confusing because the seat-time racket is an old one; we're quite accustomed to thinking that way. It keeps schools afloat.

Five or six years ago I led a session at Training in Atlanta on corporate universities -- forty-five minutes of proselytizing for business goals, pragmatism, goal orientation, and practicality. My point was that corporate universities are not supposed to be academic.

I wasn't persuasive. A hand went up in the audience that led to the question, "If the learning is self-paced, how are we going to award CEUs?"

Posted by: jay at December 18, 2002 06:13 AM

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