RD3: Automated Project Management
Typically, organizations that develop eLearning courses employ a full-time project manager. The reason a project manager is needed is because there are many stakeholders that collaborate during the course development process. These stakeholders typically include the:
- Subject Matter Expert (SME)
- Technical illustrator
- Audio recorder
- Animation and interactivity developer
With so many people involved in the process, the project manager will end up doing a juggling act that can result in confusion and ambiguity about the roles and responsibilities of your project team. Some team members may be of the “passive” type, while others may take a more active approach. Some team members may have stronger opinions than others. Regardless of the different personalities involved, this can result in conflicts that eventually need to be resolved. In addition, the project manager needs to make sure that the project stays on track. This role is essentially a full-time job, unless you happen to work for Avsoft.
eLearning Project Management the Avsoft Way
In our world, project management is more of a part-time job, and the job is mainly to make sure that any obstacles to the schedule are removed. Other than that, our project managers don’t have a lot to do. This is due to three factors:
- The use of our RD3 system for the development process
- The assignment of specific responsibilities
- A set of fairly detailed guidelines that cover every aspect of the development process
Assigning Tasks in RD3
We assign all team members a specific task. For example, one SME will be the lead, and the other one proofs the work of the first one. We typically use more than one source for the material, so one SME uses one set of references to support the facts in the story board, and the second SME uses a different set for the proofing.
So, what happens if there is a conflict? The job of the second SME is to generate a discussion with the first SME, and the objective is to determine the correct facts to be used in the story board.
We use the same process with the technical illustrator. The first one draws, and the second one proofs. If the second one doesn’t agree with what the first one drew, a discussion is generated, and the intent is to “massage” the illustration to obtain a consensus.
Assigning Responsibilities in RD3
The second aspect of our development process is that we have specific rules the SME and technical illustrators must follow. These rules cover items such as the use of colors, highlights, and how to draw attention to a specific part of an illustration.
Creating Your eLearning Course in RD3
The third aspect is the use of RD3. The entire online course is created in RD3. There are a variety of tasks associated with this process, including:
- Writing story boards
- Developing questions
- Uploading graphics
Each time a task is completed, the function generates a completion message that is posted in the course development forum. Each module has its own thread, and messages are posted under the applicable module (thread).
The system also emails all assigned team members. Basically, the system “broadcasts” a message to indicate what was done. Since our process is also highly defined, everyone knows what’s supposed to happen next. For example, when the first technical illustrator uploads the initial set of graphics, the upload function generates a message to indicate that the initial set of graphics have been uploaded. This message is posted in the forum, and then emailed to everyone. When the second illustrator sees that message, that person knows that it’s time for them to proof the work of the first technical illustrator.
This process is repeated across all functions, up until the time all the modules have been completed.
The Role of the Project Manager in the eLearning Course Development Process
The only thing our project manager does is to inquire with the next member in the process in situations where their part is not completed within a reasonable time frame. The key to cutting down on these delays rests on two factors:
- Training by the company
- Discipline on the part of the team member
For us, it works very well and eliminates the need for a full-time project manager to oversee the course creation process.