Finding time to design: 5 useful tools to help manage your eLearning project
I am an Instructional Designer. But it sometimes seems that instructional design is something I do when I’ve finished all the rest of my work. In fact, my other work should just be peripheral and the content development should be taking up most of my time – and definitely most of my energy. When I was a trainer I used to have the same issue – getting people into training, writing documentation, setting up equipment, evaluating feedback would all take far more time and effort that the actual training delivery itself. That was actually what led me into online learning in the first place – seeing the ratio of time spent doing the peripheral stuff being dwarfed by the time that people were benefiting from the learning. Delivering learning online does this by default, our courses can impact many more people via the Internet than it can within a classroom. Once the course is finished, theoretically it has the potential to reach an infinite audience. And now that I work exclusively in delivering online training, it is important that designing courses is what I am actually doing. Managing projects as effectively as possible is an absolute must to enable me to have the free time to design content. Learning how to do this is something that I’ve stumbled into and whilst I am improving at it on a daily basis, it is something that I’m beginning to master.
Top 5 eLearning Project Tools
Here are my top 5 tips for tools to help manage the daily onslaught of project administration:
Basecamp is simply outstanding for managing projects that involve several people. It offers a simple interface for each project which includes to-do lists, shared calendars, document sharing and lots more. No more digging around for an email from the SME, all the info is in one place. Often the issue with these types of tools is that other people don’t harbour the same desire to use another tool as you do – and with Basecamp, that is no issue, you can forward emails directly to the project so even if others aren’t using the tool, you are still keeping all the info in one place.
2. Zoho Creator
Keeping track of TNA, content requests, course adjustments, course feedback etc. can be a nightmare. If your LMS can’t do this, or if you are juggling projects that use several LMS, I’d thoroughly recommend Zoho Creator. A powerful tool that let’s you create public and private online forms, that then displays the data in both a database format and then numerous graphical formats. You then save these easy-to-create graphs as templates for future projects, and create URLs for others to easily see the data.
Gannt charts? Yuck! I hate trying to keep these up-to-date. Now you can do this quickly and easily with Team Gannt – or more easily let your team update their progress online. It even syncs with Basecamp.
4. Google Docs with Google Drive
– I love being able to create and share my documents on the fly. Except for storyboarding in PowerPoint, I don’t need Microsoft Office any more. Google Sheets allows me to create and edit spreadsheets on the move and then share them with specific clients at the click of a button.
I couldn’t live without Evernote for capturing ideas, blog posts, design examples, colour schemes, meeting notes and info from phone calls. It syncs across all my devices, allows capture from within any web browser and provides a simple tagging system and powerful search capability so I can quickly find my notes when I need them. I’m not going to write any more about Evernote, because if you aren’t already using Evernote then you’re missing out! What tools do you use to manage your projects? Are there any better alternatives I’ve missed? Please let us know!