Work closely with others as you develop your e-learning strategy

Your e-learning strategy will involve several departments in your organisation. It is essential to make sure you are in constant communication with them, that their needs have been discussed and considered and that they understand the role they will play in your project.

Prepare a project plan and include a realistic budget. If your application for innovations funding is successful you will be required to develop a full project plan. Don’t let this frighten you too much you will have access to plenty of support to assist you to do this. In the meantime you must consider some simple project planning techniques to ensure that your project application is realistic.

Carefully consider the resources you will need including human aspects and equipment. Do you have access to these resources? Will you need to purchase them (remember your project application will not allow you to purchase infrastructure, hardware or software [including subscriptions to online spaces such as wikis]). Having said this, you can hire equipment or if you organisation has the equipment calculate the possible hire fee and include this in your in-kind contribution).

If you are unsure about the hardware and software you will need discuss it with your I/T department. They can easily inform you of the type of software and hardware available and the platforms they can support. The important thing is to do your homework before you start and then you won’t have any nasty surprises later in the project.

Gather your team together and really consider what your online environment will look like. Will you use a learning management system (such as Moodle) or will you employ a team of programmers to create your own? As you research this consider the equipment your learners will have access to. What browsers will they use, what plug-ins will they require and how easy can they obtain and install these plug-ins. Sometimes I find it helpful to include this in my student induction and issue all students with a CD that includes all plug-ins they are likely to need and some step-by-step instruction sheets to install these (if you are developing instructional how-to guides these can also be counted as a project deliverable and given back to the Framework for others to use).

Another really important consideration is where your e-learning program will be hosted and what the limitations are, including access limitations. I once taught an online program and the web-designer decided that the platform would be updated over the Christmas vacation. This web-designer didn’t realise that courses run 24/7 and that this decision would impact an existing student group. The plan was to maintenance over a period of six weeks while everyone is on holidays. Communication and planning can easily identify potential issues and put into place appropriate strategies to overcome these hurdles.

Continue to consider how your e-learning course will look. Will you use a common style (by this I mean fonts, heading structures, page layouts)?

If you are just starting out on your journey this might be a good time to have a look at http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/content/plan-e-learning for tips on planning e-learning.

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