Things to consider when working on a project

I read not one, but three great blog posts today regarding what kinds of questions you should asking yourself when working on a project. Two of the blogs were not specific to the e-learning industry, but they apply nonetheless.

Why?

The first blog, by Jason at 37signals.com, suggests that you should always Question your work. He lists the questions he feels we should always be asking ourselves when working on projects:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What problem are we solving?
  • Is this actually useful?
  • Are we adding value?
  • Will this change behavior?
  • Is there an easier way?
  • What’s the opportunity cost?
  • Is it really worth it?

As instructional designers, we’re trained to perform high-level impartial needs assessments, but we’re only human and get tripped up in the details as easily as anyone else. One of the easiest things to do is to forget to ask yourself “is the training I’m about to create really going to solve the root problem?” Taking a moment to step back and ask yourself Jason’s questions (especially if you’re a freelancer trying to decide if a project is worth your time) is a good idea.

Taking care of business

Speaking of freelancers, Joeflash had a great blog post today titled Business tips for freelancers. Again, not specific to e-learning development, but still directly applicable to contracting work in almost any field. His sixteen tips are very practical, and the list is a quick but very worthwhile read.

Looks matter

Lastly, Tom Kuhlmann at Articulate wrote a nice blog entry about Why Looks Matter in E-Learning Courses (And What You Can Do About It).

This particular blog entry gives great tips about the visual design of your e-learning course. He advises readers to:

  • Understand How to Use Colors
  • Create a Fresh and Contemporary Design
  • Maintain a Consistent Look and Feel

These are the kinds of things I would expect most course developers to already know, yet it isn’t very hard to find examples of courses that don’t adhere to these basic design principles.

Side note: I’m generally not a fan of Articulate’s products, but I think Tom’s blog is a must-read for e-learning developers. He usually has great tips and practical advice, in easy-to-understand language, without trying to do any hard-sells of Articulate products. We should all strive to write so clearly, especially in our courses!

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