Scoping a Learning Solution – Art or Science? Part 4

Part 4 – Media Requirements & Evaluation Plan

This is the fourth part of our blog ‘Scoping a Learning Solution – Art or Science?’ If you have not read the previous posts, please do so:

By the end of Part 3 you know how to estimate the level of effort needed to develop the required learning program. A key component of this estimation process was applying standard development ratios for the selected strategies. In this part, we want to plan for creating media elements and evaluation instruments that are not typically covered by those standard development ratios.

Outline Media Requirements

The third step in scoping the learning solution is to identify all the media elements that will require resources that are beyond the capacity of the instructional designers and course developers. The resources can include individuals with special skills (graphic artists, video producers, audio engineers, etc.) or existing media that must be licenced (clip art, stock photos, video or audio clips). At his point in the scoping process you do not know the specifics of the content of these media elements you just want to include the funds needed to produce or acquire the resources.

Knowing the instructional strategy and planned duration of the training will make it easier to speculate on the type and quantity of media elements required. For example, once you know you are planning for a day of leader-led training, then it might be easier to estimate media by thinking in terms of how many items (graphic slides, video clips, etc.) you want to budget for each hour of class time.

Media Elements

You need to select the type of media elements for each of the instructional strategies you included in your plan. Remember that media elements are required for the introduction, body and conclusion of every instructional unit (course, module and lesson).
The ‘Science’ in this part of scoping is to break the media requirements into discrete elements. There are four main types of media for which you might contract a professional to create original content for your project:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Graphic
  • Photograph

There is an alternative to creating original media. There are many online stock libraries where you can licence existing media.

To keep track of the media decision being made as the learning solution is being scoped we added a Media Production sheet to our spreadsheet.

In the Media Production sheet, video, audio and animation elements are priced per minute, e.g., five minutes of profession video. Artwork, diagrams and photographs are priced per unit. Notice that when buying audio or video the unit is per clip or track and the actual duration varies slightly for each item. For our online library we use CanStockPhoto but there are lots of other libraries available.

You will need to update the unit prices with values that reflect the resources you use. Once the unit costs are representative of your situation then you can estimate the number of units you anticipate for each strategy.

The ‘Art’ in this step is determining the media type and number of units. Over time with many projects completed you will have a well-structured data set to reference as you scope subsequent projects.

In this example the media budget estimate is $38,530 ($15,280 + $18,190 + $5,060) for one day of the learning program implemented using three strategies.


Evaluation Planning

In FKA’s ISD methodology there is an evaluation phase that measures the impact of the learning program at the four levels defined by Donald Kirkpatrick.

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Reaction Do the learners like the learning program?
Learning Can the learners demonstrate knowledge and skills as a result of the program?
Performance Has the performance target been reached on the job?
Results How does change in performance impact the organization?

The standard development ratios that we applied earlier include some effort to write level-two questions that should be part of every learning program. If you want to include the other three levels of evaluation, then you need to add some effort to your scoping plan.

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Continuing with our example you plan to use an existing Level 1 survey so no additional effort is required, but you do want to ensure there is a formal evaluation of job performance. To support this goal you identify two additional days of effort to develop a performance observation check list.

Summarize Design and Development Level of Effort

You are probably getting the idea that when we say there is some science to scoping we are promoting the idea of capturing your design choices in as much details as possible and recording that detail in a spreadsheet so the data is accessible to reference for future scoping requirements. The scoping for the example we have been using indicates you need to plan 36 days (33.5 + 2 and rounded up to 36) for design, development and evaluation.

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In the final part of this series, using our estimates of effort for design, development and evaluation we are going to develop a draft project plan.

Jim Sweezie
VP Research and Product Development