Purnima Valiathan

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Estimating Cost for Elearning Projects

Considering content while estimating cost for ELearning Projects


Somewhere, sometime along the way, we decided that we should identify “levels” for calculating the cost for developing an E-Learning course: Simple interactions – low cost; richer interactions – higher cost; elaborate and complex interactions, highest cost.  Though we call them interactivity levels, it is less driven by Instructional Design, and more by media requirements, because you see, the latter is tangible. What Instructional Design brings to the table, well – not so tangible. But, that is a topic for another day!

Let me get to the topic for this piece – content.  Do we consider this at all, when we calculate the cost for an E-Learning project? If we do, then are we looking at it from different perspectives?


One, how complex is the content? Let’s face it. All content is not equal. There are some, which are more complex than others. And such content requires the Instructional Designer to spend more effort in understanding it, and in putting it across as effectively as possible for the learners.  After all explaining leadership styles, is far easier than explaining the mechanism behind refrigeration chillers!


Two, in what form is the content available? Is it scattered all over the place? Is it completely unorganized? Is it existing in varied formats – PowerPoint, PDF, Word Document, Web Pages, and sometimes in the SME’s head – and let me add, getting there is no cakewalk!

Framework for considering cost from a content perspective

Most often, we overlook these two factors. And, somewhere, sometime along the way, in the course of the project, we realize that we are putting in much more effort than what we had planned to. So, I guess it’s time we moved Content up from being the “nominal” King to becoming the “real” one!


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