Let me preface with the fact that I’ve seen this floating around a lot as an authority on calculating eLearning development hours and respect the time and research that went into putting it together.
Here is my response:
Calculating a general hourly estimate is strongly based on the type of project and the developer. If you already have a really good understanding of the content and are very comfortable with the technology to develop the training, it may take a little as a few days to create an hour of elearning. If you don’t really know much about the content and don’t know the technology, it could take weeks or more for a simple module. There are tons of other variables, too. For example, do you have a separate instructional designer? Is your subject matter expert relationship strong or weak? Are you able to use existing assets for your course (reusable content) or do you need to develop everything from scratch? Is the content completely new? Is it really technical and require a lot of interaction? Then, there is the use of advanced tech like character states/ avatars, action script/ advanced actions, audio, deploying to multiple devices, testing interaction with LMS & reporting requirements, etc, etc, etc…
To sum all this up, I think that trying to lock yourself into an hourly estimate of developing elearning would result in such a broad range of time that the figure will become convoluted in any kind of analysis. So, if you have to pitch a time to set expectations, you need to give yourself a lot of time until you really determine how long it takes you to complete courses on average.
If you are in the same boat – trying to calculate the time that it will take you to create an elearning project, here are some things to consider:
- If you’ve never developed an elearning project before, then I’d say it is nearly impossible to determine how long it will take you to develop one with any real accuracy. Once you’ve completed several projects, you’ll have an idea of how long you may need.
- The timeline and quality of an elearning project is entirely dependent upon those involved. If you have an experienced developer, an instructional designer, great subject matter experts, and supportive stakeholders, chances are your project will run smoothly (and when issues arise, a good team will be better equipped to handle it). If your team is relatively new and still going through those forming and storming phases, you probably want to give yourself at least twice as much time as your initial estimate.
- AN ELEARNING TOOL DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN EXPERT! No matter how fancy the features or ease of use, a tool cannot make up for lack of experience. Don’t fall into the misconception that a tool can ensure you get this project done faster. However, you should pick a great tool and develop your workflow – this will help you be much more efficient [faster] over time.
- Create training with re-usability in mind.
- Think of long-term branding & templates (try not to restrict yourself with a lot of mumbo-jumbo on the stage)
- Develop an inventory of images (you may find products such as Adobe Bridge helpful)
- Keep a log of interactivity that you’ve built in each course (pull up your old stuff for a “save-as” so you don’t have to rebuild everything from scratch)
- Use products such as Photoshop to create layers to files (ie: one of my colleagues created a keyboard key with layers for every key … just un-hide the layer and save it out as a .png when you need a specific key)
- TESTING. When you [think] you are done creating your course, remember that you may need several rounds of testing. Plan that time!