You’re an e-learning company, do you even have a development process?

A question that I’m often asked is what’s your development process? Without getting all techie we follow a simple process that it based on PRINCE 2 and ISO 9000. I can hear the gasps already! When I took my PRINCE 2 exams I was given a great piece of advice that was “Little Project, Little Price, Big Project, Big Prince!”. This is something that has stuck with me and we’ve followed at Real Projects. Although we are an e-learning company we’ve all worked in different industries at some point and draw on that experience. our job code system is based on one I learnt working in the Oil & Gas industry and our wireframes used during development have been used by most of us at some point in a range of industries.

Wireframes
We’ve been using these on website and e-learning projects for a long time. They help map out the structure of a page and we can breakout the individual functions of a page. Critically they help our clients understand what the page purpose is. If you provide a lavishly illustrated graphic this can often be a distraction and the focus turns to colour, font, size and images. We know from our experience that if you get the wireframe right then the design follows much easier.

Sitemaps and Storyboards
We might use one or both. Its a visual reference of where everything is going and how it all interacts. Even on a linear piece of work we create this map, it provides a mental model for everyone on the project about where ‘things’ are going to happen.

Scamps
Simple sketches of what things might look like, these come a long way before final designs and let everyone see a flavour of what’s happening. I’m often heard saying “Everyone is a graphic designer, but not many people want to be a programmer!” There are not many occasions during a project when anyone asks to see the code or has a query about a specific coding technique! Get people involved, share the work – make sure that your e-learning project has as many people as involved as you need!

Agile
Agile development processes. You might be surprised to think that an e-learning company would be thinking of using Agile processes as these are often associated with programming. You might like to think of it as rapid prototyping. We think of it as see things often and make lots of little changes along the way. This does prevent the development process of “Build to the specification, then build what the client actually needs”. It’s so hard to specify exactly what’s needed, especially if you are doing something for the first time. You’d neven dream of taking a product to market without testing or refining it first so why do it with e-learning?

Friends – Often referred to as Stakeholders or clients
You are going to be working on this project for a while, even if its a small piece. You hope to work together for a long time. To get the best outcome for your e-learning project you all need to be involved. Your client is part of the team! We try to make sure that they are kept informed, know what is happening and we ask for their thoughts and opinions. Work together you need to use your collective skills to deliver your project,

So do we have a process – Yes we do! But we are flexible, we are repsonsive and the process needs to change alongside changing technology and the needs of our clients. The thing we like about e-learning is that it allows us to be creative, to look at new technology and deliver solutions that actually make a difference. We are an e-learning company but much of what we do is taken from and shared by other companies from all sectors – from how we manage projects to how they are designed.

Keep the process flexible

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