Thursday, 10 September 2009

eLearning Costs

A reader sent a note asking my opinion on the vendor pricing in The Great eTrain Robbery? (Please Opine). Here's his brief description:

The particular course in question is approximately 2 hours of classroom soft skills training that needs to be delivered in an eLearning format. The content has already been written for the classroom. It needs to be repurposed for eLearning. The course will be developed using a Lectora-style system that produces what is essentially an HTML/javascript page turner. Multimedia (animation, narration, etc.) will be minimal. The course will not be narrated in its entirety, but there may be some snippets of narration here and there. Interactions should be basic form-based questions created within the development application. Graphics will include basic stock images/clip art in the classic “eLearning that looks like a bad PowerPoint presentation” style.

The fixed-price contract that has been signed with the vendor for this course is for 766 hours of development at an average hourly rate of $116 for a total of $89,000+.

His question is whether this price is reasonable, high or worth raising a stink.

From his brief description, the price sounds high, but I would need to know a bit more detail to be sure. For example, how much rewrite of the original course will be done. Are you coming up with "simulations" or more complex exercises to teach the soft skills? In many cases, there can be significant work to design that kind of learning experience.

If it's merely a port without significant redesign, then that's a pretty high price.

If you are going to raise a stink, I would suggest you do it by pointing to various resources that discuss costs. I went to my favorite resource (eLearning Learning) and looked at the keywords: Cost and Ratio and found some pretty good sources:

When you look at these, you will come up with various ratios and costs. The one from Karl Kapp in Learning Circuits (Time to Develop One Hour of Training) would seem good to cite.

Take a look and the ratios range from 122 to 243 hours per finished hour for simple courses. This aligns with Bryan Chapman's 220:1 ratio. However, before you jump all over the 383 per finished hour that the vendor is citing, note that Kapp includes Soft Skills Simulations that ranges from 320 to 731 per finished hour.

So, again, a big question is whether they are designing a kind of simulation that plays within the simple interactions you describe?

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