This article is a continuation of my interview with Nick Floro; the first part of the interviewappeared in Learning Solutions Magazine on October 6, 2016. In case you missed that part, Nick is the president of Sealworks Interactive Studios. The eLearning Guild recognized him as a Guild Master at FocusOn Learning 2016 Conference & Expo.
In this part of the interview, I asked Nick to give his thoughts about what new eLearning designers and developers should focus on the value of iterative designnd and development. The interview has been edited for clarity.
Pamela S. Hogle: Many of our members and readers are relative newcomers to eLearning—new eLearning designers or developers or even people with little experience in either of those areas. What suggestions or advice can you offer them for launching an eLearning initiative in their companies or organizations and for creating engaging content, often on a tight budget?
Nick Floro: Welcome to an amazing world of learning! I believe one of the biggest hurdles to overcome and understand is that there are so many amazing ways to create learning today that you need to focus on what is best for your audience, what’s possible in your timeline, and what tools you have. I would highly recommend adopting a model that is flexible and lets you test, gather feedback, launch, gather feedback—and that allows you to change and adapt to your audience’s needs with each iteration. Too often, we select a technology, a workflow, or a technique, and we forget to look up as we create a factory to push out the “learning.”
You also need to constantly look outside at what others are doing; the Guild offers an amazing resource at each event’s DemoFest and an online library where you can see hundreds of examples, along with insight into the challenges and techniques, as well as the benefits, of each project. This is such a great way to learn what worked and what didn’t, and to quickly build a library of ideas and examples of what is possible. If you launched a project this year, submit it for DemoFest and share what worked, what didn’t, and how your project helped improve learning with your audience.
I had the opportunity to participate in and attend the Hyperdrive event last year at DevLearn , and it was another great way to see, hear, and learn about what is possible in learning. One particular presenter, Ravi Singh, presented a great example—Mobile Performance Support System—which won.
In this learning project, they combined a mobile device with QR codes to provide just-in-time learning. It was a great example of how a simple solution can equal big results. They ended up reducing costs dramatically by training staff on site. If there were, say, seven pieces of equipment, if the red lights were on the third area, they’d just scan that code and the video would go right to telling you what to do to correct the problem; instead of looking through a 200-page manual or asking someone or calling for training, they were able to get the information instantly. It was just so simple; it was a beautiful solution. It was so simple and cost-effective, and it provided support and training exactly when they needed it, based on what QR code they scanned at each step of the actual process. Hyperdrive will be back at DevLearn 2016, so it’s another great reason to attend the conference.
I would also recommend taking advantage of the amazing Guild community and all the opportunities to connect, whether on LinkedIn or via Twitter or a webinar, to learn, explore, and share with your team what’s possible and test some new ideas with your audience.
PH: Can you share any words of wisdom on estimating time and cost for an eLearning project?
NF: Estimating time is an art, like design or coding, where the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. I’ve been producing projects for over 22 years, and every time we launch a new project, we always ask: What did we learn? What can we improve? What would we want to improve?
You also consider looking at what works best for your organization and work flow, and I would encourage you to launch quickly, gather feedback, and change and evolve each offering when possible. Look at building in audience feedback: Talk to a set of users and ask them what they thought, what helped, and what you can improve.
As you gain experience, you will get better and better at estimating. One big piece of advice: It’s never as simple as you think or as it seems, so if you are estimating a day, always [double] to allow for time to test, review, and evolve a concept. That is hard in most organizations, to get buy-in, but when you see improved results, it becomes easier to grow the concept.