Developing an elearning Plan - Part I

elearning design and development

Do I really need a plan to develop elearning? Yes! You need a plan.

Once the decision has been made to develop elearning the next question becomes, now what?

If your organization is ready to develop elearning either internally or with an outsourced vendor, this decision can seem daunting. However, if you understand the foundation from which elearning is designed, you’ll be on your way to planning a successful project.

There are several components that should be in place before starting elearning development. Also, you want to ensure the organization and learners are ready for elearning. Additionally, you need to identify what success looks like for elearning at your organization. This means recognizing the challenges elearning responds to and determining the goals of the program.

The following categories outline what needs to be lined up to support a successful project.

  1. Organizational

  • Determine project size and scope

  • Determine budget needs and availability

  • Create project schedule based on delivery date

  • Align organizational needs with elearning outcomes

  1. Resources

  • Ensure available IT support

  • LMS requirement

  • Help Desk

  • Identify other resources and availability

  1. Leadership

  • Identify project stakeholders

  • Confirm senior leadership commitment

  • Identify additional review team (communications, legal)

  • Determine final decision maker

  1. Content

  • Outline expected learning objectives and outcomes

  • Align to learner needs and business goals

  • Create evaluation process for post program delivery

Phases of eLearning Development

After the preplanning phase is completed, with all organizational and logistical requirements in place, and success criteria clearly documented, you are ready to begin development.

The ADDIE Model serves as a good starting point to understand how to evaluate business and learning needs for elearning programs. However, there is room for flexibility and variation within it. Listed here are five phases of elearning development with a follow-up evaluation phase. This provides some additional detail to ADDIE.

  1. Analysis and Planning

  • Project schedule and milestones

  • Identify all players on the team

  • Identify and document project requirements - including project goals

  • Determine look and feel and type of graphics

  • High-level content design

  1. Develop hierarchy of content with learning objectives

  2. Identify target audience

  3. Subject matter review and stakeholder approval

  • Script development

  1. Create full text of course content

  2. Subject matter review and stakeholder approval

  • Assessment of technical infrastructure and program needs

  1. Design

  • Storyboard development

  1. Graphic and animation design

  2. Subject matter review and stakeholder approval

  3. Development

  4. Course development in authoring environment

  5. Subject matter review and stakeholder approval

  6. Quality Assurance and testing (may be considered part of development as it works closely and concurrently to it.)

  7. Delivery and deployment (implementation)

  8. Evaluation

Developing a Project Schedule

In order to create a realistic development schedule for an elearning project, you should work backwards from the desired completion date. A determination of when the training program must be “live” establishes the length of the development process, ensuring all of the above steps are addressed.

Project Kick-off

A project kick-off meeting is the official start of a project. Included in this meeting is the development team and identified stakeholders. At this meeting the following is completed:

  • The project schedule is shared.

  • The project size and scope is addressed.

  • Clear expectations of the final deliverable are established.

  • Stakeholders are brought onboard and up-to-speed on the project.

  • Identified risk factors are addressed and unknown potential risks discussed.

Following the kick-off meeting, the high-level design phase begins, followed by the QA, review and approval processes.

Part II of this post will address common risks and challenges, the role of the project manager and the value of developing an elearning plan.

If you need support in creating an elearning plan or understanding the elearning development process, please email

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