Content creation within organisations


Content creation within organisations

Does your organisation produce eLearning content internally? How does it work for you?

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Comment by Cathy Chapman on April 28, 2009 at 10:51
I manage training for staff and global customers for Minorplanet Systems plc, which develops and sells fleet vehicle tracking and communication systems.

The training team is small and multitasking, providing pre / post sales support, online help, product localisation, as well as training.

The product development and release cycle is rapid, with new features released every 2 months. The team is highly proactive in terms of project involvement from specification review of new features / products, involvement in prototype reviews, core testing, user acceptance testing and release notification to all users in all territories.

For staff training, as soon as product is released to testing we produce recorded demonstrations of new featuers in Webex and make the recordings available to staff via our Webex enterprise site, backed up with one-page 'feature sheets' and - for more complex topics - live Webex training sessions for remote staff and classroom sessions for head office based staff.

Customers receive early notification of release at the time of User Acceptance Testing. We have developed a 'self-service' e-learning site using RoboHelp and Captivate with lessons, movies and quizzes on each topic. This is also made available to all staff and customers for self teach.

A series of 5 days classroom training is provided for induction of new staff, which covers product, organisation and commercials. This is backed up by Webex support on a one-to-one or small group basis as appropriate.

New customers receive a series of 1 hour interactive Webex training sessions over a three week period, backed up with online help and e-learning. Sessions can be recorded with agreement from the customer so that they can go back over discussions at any time to refresh their knowledge as they are learning.

We use the ubiquitous 'happy sheets' immediately post training, but also follow up with phone calls after 1 week and 1 month to assure consolidation.

This combination of Webex and e-learning site has proved highly effective over the past 6 months where we have seen the reduction of the training team from 10 to 4 in the UK, with similar reductions around the group. It means that the effectiveness of customers and staff learning is maintained whilst almost completely eliminating travel costs and long distance driving.

Staff also have access to a comprehensive Extranet site, again developed within the team using dotnetnuke (open source). This gives one central point to visit to get access to all product documentation, policies and procedures, e-learning, future plans, specification - everything under one hub.

All documentation, help and training is localised into major European languages and Arabic.

That's it! I'd like to have the time resource to add more controls, checks and measures but I'll have to settle for proactive for the time being.....
Comment by John Hampton-Guest on March 26, 2009 at 16:33
I work for the internal training team at learndirect and as I am new to content creation I tend to:

Mock up in PPT
Import into Captivate
Place the produced files on Intranet

Before I came along learndirect had an in house e-learning creation team but it disappeared. (I had no experience but visiting Learning Technologies really opened my eyes to the possibilities. Clive Shepherds talk in 2008 was really instrumental in my decision that most people can design decent rapid content.)

We have lots of challenges where we have to delivering learning to our Provider Network of 800 Learning Centres and internal teams, this was previously delivered by regional staff at face-to-face events costing thousands.

I reduced this outgoing last year using e-tutorials created with Camtasia moving onto Captivate later.

I see the pros doing it and wonder what might be if I had a team of Flash developers but alas the team consists of just me!

Did I mention I also have to wash the dishes and make the tea!

Not too worried about budgets at the moment because I don't have one!

I think my main skill is that I know the audience and that as Itiel says they only want to know what they want to know. My organisation doesn't have the time to create beautifully created content. That is reserved for the learndirect learners, who do get the best from people like Kineo etc.

Comment by Gareth Wellings on February 5, 2009 at 16:55
At Deloitte we have a variety of groups throughout our global network of businesses undertaking in house development of which our group is only one.

At a global level we have corporate infrastructure which we use for delivery of learning:
- A corporate intranet which hosts our learning group (and others) site and which provides a specific entry points to all our content (which actually sits on our LMS)
- A global LMS which anyone in our business worldwide can access - it's a Saba implementation, currently running version 5.3, about to move to 5.4

In terms of content development we've done things a number of different ways over the years, but the current model is:

1) In house content development by our group using Articulate, Quizmaker, Engage and Adobe Captivate - we manage this through
- a small group of 4 who specialise in creation content using our chosen tools
- a wider group of about 8 to 10 designers who write content - handing off the content creation team at the storyboard stage of the development process
- we supplement these two groups with other inputs when needed - e.g specialist graphics or flash design (which can usually be sourced in house), or specific instructional design input (which we would tend to source externally)

2) When the project is too complex for us to handle in house we will go outside and use a vendor - this is less common now than say 4 or 5 years ago, but still an option we'd consider. We've worked with some good vendors in the past and while this clearly a lot more expensive it does yield good results.

How rapid? Good question - I don't think we've really tested ourselves to the limit on that yet - we put together a 1.5 hour audio intensive program at the end of last year in about a month, and the limiting factor was not the technology but the various sign off and review processes we needed to go through. I think without those to contend with we could have halved the time and been very happy with the results.

Working with SMEs - always a challenge for us, usually 2 issues. Firstly are they engaged and interested in the product, and secondly can they find the time to provide the input needed? With one of our SME groups I've been able over a few years to build a very strong working relationship which is now yielding rewards - but I don't think there is a magic bullet. My view is that you need to accept they are much in demand, time poor and join the queue, while working a longer game to ensure you deliver great content and they start to see the benefit of their input.

Benefits - cash cost, control over the whole process, reduces some of the risk that working with a vendor brings (but introduces others), also builds the capability of our people internally rather than simply outsourcing that all the time.

Overall its still early days for us in telling whether this is really worth the investment, but with downward pressure on budgets (suspect we're not alone here!) I can only see this becoming a more and more important aspect of what we need to be able to do well.
Comment by Norman Lamont on January 26, 2009 at 12:48
Here's how it works in my organisation, a banking/ financial services group.

We maintain a learning site that exists outside the corporate intranet. This lets users get the learning material outside the office if they want to. More important it allows us to experiment and act faster than we could if we were in the corporate intranet and subject to its rules. We just have to comply with their security testing.

elearning gets produced in three ways:
1) there's an internal team of six home-based people (I am one) who use HTML/javascript templates we've created ourselves for rapid authoring of small chunks of content; we're moving into Flash-based stuff a bit now, using Raptivity and Articulate but it's new as we have only recently had Flash player available on the network
2) larger jobs are outsourced to a number of external companies; we have to 'shadow' these developments so that they will run within the delivery contstraints of the network
3) there are a very small number of local areas developing their own elearning material in Powerpoint and other systems; tjhis is available only in their own areas

To answer your questions for the internal team:
Skill sets: developer, programmer (Javascript, ASP, databases), CSS, Javascript, Dreamweaver, consultancy and instructional design (not all the team), Fireworks, SQL; some graphic design but that's something we constantly want to improve.
How rapid? We're capable of turning round short page-turners in a day given decent content; however that's rare and we have to do a lot of challenging to make the content fit for purpose rather than just text-dumping
How easy? Not usually.
Benefits? We know what'll work and what won't on the bank infrastructure; we are not starting from scratch in knowledge of the culture and systems; we can act faster as we don't tie ourselves to ADDIE plus contracts.
Comment by Casson McRae on January 22, 2009 at 20:52

I produce interactive eLearning content within my organisation and I am interested in how we all go about it.

For me I seem to employ a wide range of skills and am interested initially to here from you about things such as:

What skill sets do you use?
What tools do you use?
How rapid is it?
How easy is it working with SMEs?
What are the benefits to your organisation by producing internally?

For me it is, respectively, but it evolves day by day:

Consultancy, project management, instructional design, scriptwriting, graphic design, animation design, flash coding...

PhotoShop, Flash, Content Point, Captivate, illustrator, powerpoint, keynote, soundbooth...

I cannot emphasise workflow enough, rapid development balanced with learner centric, researched design. Hectic but energising.

Without them we'd be nothing...

Costs, understanding the learners, know the business, aligned to strategy, the ability to deliver and to respond at pace...

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