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Feedback Q&A on eLearning

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 36 comments and questions on eLearning issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.



List of next 10 letters

Topic

Title

Country

ROI Finding true ROI USA
 
Authoring Tools Wants free CBT tool India
 
ROI Use in a proposal
 
Software Comparison chart
 
Software Best CBT program
 
Courses Wants online degree
 

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First 10 letters


Finding true ROI

Topic: ROI

Question

December 10, 2002



Mr. Kurtus, some of your material was cited by one of our vendors regarding development time-to-presentation time ratios with regard to ROI. Our problem is validating the ratios or establishing ratios that provided adequate funds to the vendor so the company doesn't go in the hole and our customers, which are typically foreign military students, achieve a greater skill from the enhanced learning effort.

Most of the technical data we use already exist in what we refer to as technical orders (documents that layout the tasks to be accomplished). The range of technical data can be quite wide and go from checking fluid levels on fighter aircraft up to and including engineering data of electronic systems. We would typically grade the complexity of the data and then establish the degree of data that would need to be formatted to courseware. The courseware would be used as an enhancement to in-class manual instruction or teaching, although after training completion, the student could transport the courseware to supplement training back in the country or help set up a training capability. (Lessons are taught in English language)

Currently, the development effort is a ratio of development time-to-presentation time. Of course the variables cause ratios to vary. Your suggestion of "determined by page" may be a better approach to development cost since development time could be a function of the personnel and tools employed by a vendor to do the effort as well as complexity of data, etc. Since this is not a stand alone eLearning effort and will be used as a primary enhancement to in-class instruction, determining the ROI is a little complicated. While we will see the student and determine if he/she obtains the course near-term objectives, feed back is difficult to obtain after returning to their country. Therefore, the true measure of ROI may not be ascertainable unless some type of follow-on effort or data collection system is employed.

I've probably gone on too long, but if you could provide any added information for development cost factors/ratios I would certainly appreciate your input. Thanks.

T. HOGAN, Lt Colonel, USAF
Randolph AFB TX

T. - USA

7461

Answer

It is easy to get caught up in the numbers game, especially concerning ROI, such that you really don’t achieve your goals. Often it is good to take a couple of steps back to look things over and simplify your goals.

First of all, look at your goals and ROI concerning training the students:

If the goal of the training is improving job performance of the students, you might be able to compare performance before and after training. In this case ROI consists of savings due to them doing a better job, compared with the cost of training them. Unfortunately, it is seldom that simple, especially since you have a mix of classroom training and CBT.

You also must compare the cost of classroom training versus the cost of creating the computer-based training. Creating a CBT is a single cost, while classroom training is a repeated cost, so calculations must be done over the life of the CBT.

From these calculations, you can then determine how much should be spent on developing your CBT. The big goal in providing any time of training should not be the number pf pages or how long it takes the student, but rather that the goal of student knowledge is achieved, such that the person can do the job or pass the test. Thus, you can present the vendor with the goal of achieving student knowledge at a given cost.

The biggest problem eLearning vendors face is that the customer emphasizes fancy videos or clever graphics, as opposed to achieving the real goal of training or educating.

The idea making an estimate "by the page" is really transforming written training content into a number of CBT pages, as a means to estimate the cost. But before that can be done, it is most important to get good content that will teach the students.

I hope these comments help or give you some ideas.

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Wants free CBT tool

Topic: Authoring Tools

Question

September 3, 2002

Hello sir... I would like you to give small information regarding various softwares to create CBTs. It should be versatile, with a simple Interface, and any Free products.

Tilaki - India

2968

Answer

You can make simple and inexpensive CBTs and WBTs by creating Web pages and providing links and other interactive tools.

Even if a CBT is distributed on a Floppy disk or CD-ROM, you can still make the pages as web pages. Everyone has a browser to see the pages.

To find some free products, look at www.tucows.com and search for authoring. You may find some tools to use.

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Use in a proposal

Topic: ROI

Question

April 15, 2002

Hello,

I found your site on elearning quite informative. I would like to use some of the data you provide on your site http://www.school-for-champions.com/elearning/roi.htm in a proposal. To do this, I need to know the sources of the data. Would you be able to provide me with the list of references you used to compile the information on the above Webpage?

Thank you kindly for your assistance.

Ute Methner
Documentation Specialist

Marconi
Wireless Network Planning
1135 Innovation Drive, Kanata, ON, K2K 3G7
www.marconi.com

Ute -

97

Answer

Ute:

The calculations of ROI were taken from studies made at Allen Communications (now Metergy) and also quoted in the article "It's a Circus Out There - CBT ROI" by Rex J. Allen, CBT Solutions Magazine 1997, which are both listed as references in my Web page.

The numbers could be used as a guide, but I would revise them to reflect 2002 wages and costs.

Best wishes in your proposal.

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Comparison chart

Topic: Software

Question

April 11, 2002

Is there a straight 'dummies' comparison chart on which one can view one system versus the other, say along the lines one of those consumer surveys that they have in the magazines and newspapers?

For example...
Best value in the 'Under $1,000; $1000 to $1500 etc etc.'

Is there a poor man's Authorware or Coursebuilder equivalent?? Is there anything to replace Authorware, that is reasonably priced and won't bust the bank. Dreamweaver is also very expensive.

I am constructing language courses for German, Spanish and French and have compiled all this inof, text and graphics and am not sure which way to turn to next.

Any other websites offering comparisons? Any more of your kind help would be greatly appreciated!

Regards
Kevin Crocombe

Kevin -

96

Answer

You might check out Create a Quiz shareware http://www.pc-shareware.com/quiz.htm. I know there are other quiz shareware programs that you might use. Try www.tucows,com for a listing of shareware programs.

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Best CBT program

Topic: Software

Question

April 10, 2002

I just downloaded your handy guide on writing a cbt course. Very good and concise.

Can you help please?!

Wht is the best CBT program (without bankrupting us)that will present material, then test it?

Any ideas? Authorware? Coursebuilder? Any help would be gratefully appreciated.

Kind regards,
Kevin Crocombe

Kevin -

98

Answer

Authorware is still a standard for heavyweight CBT with much video and audio and that is to be distributed on a CD-ROM. But it is expensive and probably will go away in a few years. Dreamweaver with the Coursebuilder add-on is a good choice, because much eLearning today is web-based. Coursebuilder has basic course management and testing, along with scoring the tests.

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Wants online degree

Topic: Courses

Question

March 2, 2001

dear sir,
i want to do mba from online university. i saw your site and it seems very interesting but i cant sort out what is right and what ir wrong. in my case i am master of science from Pakistan in zoology and now intend to do mba online can you guide me from where can i get a nice and well recognised degree so that i can get a job easily.

sadia

Sadia -

99

Answer

Some colleges that offer an online MBA include http://academics.uww.edu/BUSINESS/onlinemba/ and http://online.phoenix.edu/ and http://www.worldwidelearn.com/online-mba.htm.

There are many other colleges that also offer such degrees. One big factor, of course, is the cost. Some schools cost much more than others. Some also may give financial assistance.

This list will give you a start in finding out what is available. Best wishes in improving your education.

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