Life is full of obstacles, but eLearning professionals have a unique set of eLearning challenges that come with the job title. In fact, there are some hurdles that we must leap over on a regular basis. From difficult clients and bland subject matter to shoestring eLearning budgets that need to be stretched, we have to use every trick we know to get through the day in one piece and persevere. Here are the top 10 headaches that eLearning professionals face virtually every day:
We’ve all had to deal with next-to-impossible deadlines that made us lose sleep and deal with unhealthy amounts of stress. No matter how many times we tried to shift things around and reallocate our resources, we just couldn’t seem to make the timeline work in our favor. The secret to overcoming unrealistic deadlines is full transparency and honesty. Make the client aware of every step involved in the process so that they know just how much work goes into creating effective eLearning deliverables.
Identifying key issues.
Analytical skills and the ability to synthesize information are both essential instructional designer skills. Your job requires to deal with large amounts of information and to find the right way to present it to your learners. At the same time, you need to keep your learners focused and engaged. In order to accomplish this, you need to be highly analytical and capable of identifying critical issues in complex topics, which are probably too long to be engaging. A way to effectively condense information is to divide it into smaller modules; or, in other words, to apply micro eLearning techniques into your eLearning course. Consider dividing eLearning content into smaller chunks, which are ideal in every aspect, as they can easily be shared, they offer your learners flexibility, and sharpen their focus. Furthermore, if need to design a longer and more detailed eLearning course later, you can make use of these eLearning “bites”. This way, you will keep learners focused on key issues and you will avoid cognitive overload.
Choosing the right instructional design model.
Choosing the most appropriate instructional design model for your eLearning course is not an easy task. As Martin Ryder has aptly put it, “An instructional design model gives structure and meaning to an instructional design problem … A model should be judged by how it mediates the designer’s intention, how well it can share a work load, and how effectively it shifts focus away from itself toward the object of the design activity”. When considering the instructional design models and theories available, keep in mind to evaluate not only their immediate implementation in design and development, but also check if the model you will eventually choose is adaptable to possible future changes in the eLearning content, if you plan to design eLearning courses with long shelf life.
In some cases, you may find that your clients are being unrealistic simply because they are inexperienced. They’ve never worked with an eLearning professional before. Hence, they aren’t aware of how difficult the eLearning design and development process can be. This is why it’s so important to sit down with them beforehand and explain what you’ll be doing, how you’ll be achieving the goals, and how often they can expect a progress report. If they know what’s going on behind the scenes they will usually be much more cooperative and understanding.
Balancing Tight eLearning Budgets
Not all eLearning projects are going to come with unlimited eLearning budgets. In fact, most are going to have limited resources and you must work with what you’ve got. Before you begin any eLearning project you should outline a detailed eLearning budget that includes any and all expenses. Also, make sure to have a realistic estimate of what the eLearning project is going to require before you turn in your proposal to the client. Otherwise, you may have to dig into your profit margin in order to deliver an eLearning product that lives up to expectations.