collaboration within eLearning teams

category: collaboration
“Collaboration can be defined as the interdependence of the group participants as they share unique ideas and experiences. The result is better than any one of the individuals could have obtained by working alone.” - Hathorn and Ingram, 'Online Collaboration: Making It Work'

Let’s imagine that following a business meeting, your team has been tasked with developing a new eLearning course for another department. Maybe you were out for lunch or in the supermarket, but a great idea came to you about how to deliver this course. While you might be extremely confident in your expertise, getting input from a wider team is really the best way to maximise the end result. Working together to utilise each individual’s skillset can pinpoint any problems and really enhance the solution. You might have years of experience but everyone has their own talents, so use them where you can.

If you’ve been given strict criteria or you have your own great idea for a course, it can be difficult sometimes to delegate responsibility and allow others to have input, be creative and show their knowledge. The important thing here is to be working together towards the same end goal. Your author can’t just write bulks of text because it works for them, because then it doesn’t allow your designer to optimise the page. Likewise, just because somebody knows the subject matter well, they might not be knowledgeable in learning techniques.

communicate

To collaborate effectively, you need to communicate. Work with subject matter experts who know the topic inside out, and find out what needs to be included. Is it a difficult subject to teach? Which assessment methods would best reinforce the information learned? Gather some key takeaways to brainstorm with your development team and help structure the outline of your course. Discussing potential issues or good strategies from the beginning will save time correcting or changing things further down the line.

be organised

Organisation is another key factor. Make sure your team maintains communication with each other through regular meetings and encourage questioning. Have clear deadlines and realistic targets to keep your project on time. Ensure each person knows their responsibilities to not only avoid conflicts, but to improve motivation.

When you’re managing the development of a project, it’s good practice to draw from standard methodologies out there that work. Agile project management is a relatively new approach to product delivery and is particularly useful in software development and technology-based solutions. It’s really about breaking down one large project into smaller versions; it allows you to test what you’ve built, release prototypes and absorb feedback. Imagine spending months building what you think is an amazing course, but it fails to attract or engage users once launched. Your project would be out of time and out of budget to be able to easily rectify any mistakes.

get feedback

A more efficient approach is to periodically release versions of your content so that you can gauge responsiveness of your audience, uncover any issues and pivot on your ideas if needed. With eLearning, Agile is a really simple and easy method to put into practice. It’s also a great way to keep your subject matter experts involved in the building of your course. You can release versions of it as you pass certain milestones, and they will be able to provide the development team with some quality feedback. The content is the most important aspect after all, and your experts will know what is and isn’t working better than anyone.

engage stakeholders

The course needs to be effective and useful for the end user, but it has to meet business needs too. Be sure that you are engaging with other stakeholders to keep communication open and ensure everyone knows what you are aiming to deliver. Draw expertise from outside your team if you can; is it possible to get access to data and analytics that could help you produce a better product?

Collaborating with the team gives individuals the chance to draw from their relative expertise while collectively coming up with strategies and challenging ideas. But that doesn’t mean losing control of the original vision or concept. Be absolutely clear who your target audience is before you start. What they react to, how they learn, and what they expect to achieve from this course. Keeping that solid end goal for your eLearning course will keep the team on track. It’s a much better goal than aiming for X amount of content, and gives you and the team that flexibility you need to really deliver a user-orientated end product.