The word communication derives from the Latin word communis, which means common. When we communicate, we are trying to establish “common ground” with someone. For example, we are trying to share information, an idea, or an attitude among a particular group of people.
Developing and maintaining a successful eLearning project begins and ends with communication. It is the responsibility of the entire project team to ensure information is shared freely and communicated effectively throughout the development process.
To understand why communication is key in eLearning development, we first need to understand the communication process:
The communication process
As you can see in the image above. There are a few steps involved in the communication process:
The communication process begins with the sender. For that message to be received, the sender must first encode the message in a form and format that can be understood by the use of common language or industry jargon, and then transmit the message.
The person to whom a message is directed is called the receiver. In order to understand the information from the sender, the receiver must first be able to receive the sender’s information and then interpret it.
The message is the information that the sender wants to relay to the receiver. Put all three elements together — sender, receiver, and message — and you have the communication process at its most basic level.
The medium is the means by which a message is transmitted. Text messages, for example, are transmitted through the medium of mobile phones.
The communication process reaches its final point when the message has been successfully transmitted, received, and understood. The receiver, in turn, responds to the sender, indicating understanding. Feedback can be direct, such as a written or verbal response, or it make that the form of a physical reaction (for example doing as the message instructed).
Communication is key
A study conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) revealed that one in five projects are unsuccessful due to ineffective communication. Throughout the design and development of an eLearning course, you (the Sender) will be required to interact with multiple stakeholders (Receivers) regularly. This not only involves informing the eLearning project team about the needs of the client, but also setting a specific line of communication between everyone.
One of the main reasons why communication is vital to the success of any project is that it helps with discussing the current and potential challenges. Do the project team have access to all the resources and tools they need for course development? Is everyone clear on the brand identity and the output the client requires? These are some of the questions that you need to make sure you ask your team before the project progresses to the development stage. This will not only iron out any pitfalls but also address any concerns and expectations, enabling the project to be in line with the original scope.
There will be times when you need to circulate information to respective stakeholders. Posting information to a mutual accessible location such as a shared drive or a project review app like Articulate Review 360 is a great way to avoid miscommunication and confusion. When the stakeholders in the eLearning project know they’re being heard and valued, communication becomes a smooth process.
There are a few key communication methods which can be implemented to ensure the success of any eLearning project. These are:
- Setting weekly project calls at the beginning of a project, as well as sending out detailed agendas before each call. This puts clear communication guidelines in place so that everyone knows what to expect.
- Touching base with the project team daily to check the progress status.
- Ensuring that the project team talk to one another, especially at key points within a project (i.e. Instructional Designers and Developers during the Content Outline and Storyboard stage).
- Using collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom to achieve fluid communication. The online platforms give you the power to collaborate with team members from anywhere in the world.
- Scheduling review cycles in advance to ensure feedback is captured during different stages of the project.
By following the above communication methods, the development of the eLearning course is more likely to succeed with regards to project scope, quality and budget. Now that you know why communication is key in eLearning development, this is a step that you cannot afford to overlook during any stage of the eLearning development process. Remember, the best ideas and strategies are of no use if they are not communicated effectively.