Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Tune-Up Time? Updating Your Elearning / Mlearning Programs / Courses

Accreditation visits, self-studies, competition, and the changing world (and technology) make it necessary to update your online courses every 2 or 3 years, at the very minimum. In some cases, you’ll need to tune them up every year, depending on the kinds of changes in the course content, the academic field, your accrediting bodies, or the legal environment.

When do you update? How extreme does the updating have to be? Do you have to start over, completely rebuild from ground zero, or are there ways to update efficiently, economically, and relatively painlessly.

Updating your courses, and doing a tune-up can be fun, especially if you have a bit of guidance. Not only will you enjoy the process, you’ll be delighted when you find you can do it quickly and cost-effectively.

We’ll look at how to know when, where, and why to update. Later, we’ll go into details about how to economically update your courses and programs.

Instructional Materials // Content Changes: When did you last update the course? Was it 2 or 3 years ago? Chances are, many things have changed. Articles have become obsolete, science has advanced, and political changes have altered the landscape. Even if your content is impervious to change, it’s possible that the links you’ve incorporated have changed. Even if you’ve subscribed to a service (rather than linking to websites), they have a way of updating and reorganizing their repositories.
Changing Course Objectives: It is possible that the course itself has changed. The objectives may have changed, and its role in the degree or certificate plan may have changed. While the changes may seem subtle and relatively minor, if you don’t update the course, there will be a big disconnect between your course and the real-life needs and objectives.

Institutional Changes: Has your institution obtained new accreditation? Have structural changes occurred? Are you experiencing a transition? It’s hard to find an institution of higher learning – profit or not-for-profit // private or public – that has not gone through amazing sea-changes, especially in the last few years, when there has been significant pressure to demonstrate that the educational program that students invest in (and become indebted through),

Technology Changes: Are your courses smartphone and tablet-friendly? Are they downloadable and portable for people who do not have 100% cloud connectivity? We made assumptions about access, bandwidth, and browsers / plugins / systems when we originally developed the courses, and sometimes those assumptions turned out to be massively wrong. What now? What do we do to turn things around when we have no budget for it? There are ways.. don’t despair. Unfortunately, this is not the article that discusses the shoestring solutions. But, it is the article that lets you know that shoestring solutions exist. They are there. Just reach out and ask for guidance. It will be there.

Student Base Changes: You may find that your student base has changed, and you’re in a situation where your courses seem a bit out of alignment. For example, you may have designed courses for students deployed to Iraq. Now, however, most of your students working at hospitals and clinics in the U.S. As a result, some of the course content seems strangely out of synch. What should you do? Obviously, you have no choice. You need to update the course.

Legal and Regulatory Environment Changes: Many courses exist because they help working professionals stay up-to-date with regulatory changes. This is an ever-shifting target, and the content is in flux. You have to bite the bullet and update whenever there are substantive changes, even if it’s twice a year. Bite the bullet. If you do so, you’ll gain market share because your program will be head and shoulders above the laggard competition.

Financial Condition Changes: Has the financial condition of your educational institution changed? Are you suddenly in financial dire straits? This may mean that it’s time to update your courses so that they cost less to run. Is that possible? Yes. Spend money to save money. It’s counter-intuitive, but it works.

There are a number of reasons why it is a good idea to continually update your online courses. Doing the updating on a regular basis will allow you to avoid catastrophic delays and expenses.

If you’d like assistance, E-Learning Queen has assembled a knowledgeable, experienced team, The Queen Team. Please inquire for more details. Email: susan@elearningqueen.com

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