What is one hour of e-learning?

One hour or 60 minutes or 3600 seconds, the hour is the standard by which elearning development costs appear to be measured. I’ve read with interest several blog posts about development cost per hour but what exactly is an hour of elearning and how is it measured?

In an industry it is valuable to have a benchmark or standard against which price and quality comparisons can be made but with the advances in technology and the range of development tools available is the hour still relevant?

We read and are told that learners work at different speeds at different times and in different ways yet the one hour matrix is readily applied. I’m interested in what constitutes the hour? Is it the time the learner uses the course? Are we using an average? For the development company is it number of screens x number of minutes? I’m not sure of the answer but I’m conscious that as we deliver on different platforms in different modes to an ever wider learner group that an hour used as a standard could be misleading if it’s not applied consistently and everyone knows how it is measured.

Often I read a blog post about company x who are paying £ 000’s for an hour of elearning and want to know whether it represents value. I don’t think that you can make an accurate assessment without knowing more information including the full details of what the developer is being asked to do. Development time using Rapid tools is widely regarded as being less than custom work and its only when you factor in all of the development tasks only then can you start to make an assessment.

In a creative industry like e-learning benchmarking costs will always be a challenging task but perhaps it’s time to think about a basic formula that will provide a base for suppliers and developers to work from.

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What is one hour of e-learning?

3 Responses

  1. It depends, doesn’t it? I presume you’re writing about tutorial based e-learning and not other forms of e-learning.

    For clients, I’d imagine that the one hour means how long the e-learning ‘runs’ for if the learner reads, listens, watches, interacts with the all of the content, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that learners will remember anything.

    For producers, I guess it’s some kind of formula like: number of screens/2D v. 3D/ stock photo based v. original photo based v. illustration based/page turner v. branching scenario/ hi-end game/developed in-house v. developed offshore/original graphics v. clip art and so on.

    Given today’s economic climate, I think that clients have a budget in mind and won’t budge on price no matter what metrics producers apply to the costing. Personally, I’ve never really got the price per hour debate and very few clients/prospects seem to ask the question these days.

    As producers we would, of course, be crazy if we didn’t undertake some kind of needs/scoping exercise – paid or unpaid before we offered up a costing.

    Rob Alton October 1, 2009 at 3:31 pm #
  2. Thanks Rob,

    interesting discussion on a serious games forum about how they are struggling to get across to clients and developers that its not always possible to measure a game in terms of hours.

    scott October 1, 2009 at 3:37 pm #
  3. Scott

    With reference to your post and hopefully coming from an informed client viewpoint I believe that is better to measure a game in terms of objects, tasks, interactions that have to be created. The more of these variables that are included, the game play time naturally increases, however, this is highly dependent on the learner. This is not only in terms of intellectual / learning ability but as I have seen can be as simple as familiarity with standard keyboard controls let alone other interface methods.

    An experienced developer should be able to give the client an idea of how long their ‘wish list’ should take to play out in a game environment or 2D e-learning for that matter.

    Simon Coles October 19, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

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