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Under the Hood of a Beautiful e-Learning Course

The following interview post is offered along with our congratulations to Craig Bunyea for his nomination as Best eLearning Developer!

Maestro Logo

Craig Bunyea has been nominated as Best eLearning Developer in theMaestroeLearningAwards [http://goo.gl/cRccg], dubbed the OSCARS of the eLearning industry. What follows is an interview between Craig and the award’s organizers,MaestroeLearning [http://www.maestroelearning.com].

About the Interviewer

 Maestro eLearning is a customer service company in the business of creating custom online training courses. They’re collaborating with industry professionals to deliver more value in their series “Trainer Talks.”  If you would like to participate in an interview or suggest an interview candidate, perhaps a top-performing employee or a brilliant colleague, please don’t hesitate to contact genatyalor@maestroelearning.com.

 Q. What’s the story behind this beautiful course?

I conferred with the instructional designer I collaborated with to develop this course to refresh my memory, as it’s been a couple years since we launched this – though it is still the gold standard by which all other courses we develop in-house are compared.

 The concept for this course was primarily born out of a corporate initiative to develop a culture of shared values married with our desire to help new hires identify with a metaphor that could organize the vast array of policies, services and functions that support the work of CTC.

The existing new employee orientation was simply a series of standup presentations, often difficult to coordinate in the span of a morning, given the dynamics of presentation and learning style. While we did entertain other metaphors, we knew we wanted a concept that would engender exploration and territorially be just the right ‘size’.  A tour of a house would’ve been too confining and cities, while CTC does have more than  1400 employees in over 50 locations, around a globe or country would have lost the smaller non-profit organization “feel” that CTC wanted to convey.

After we had sold ourselves on “CTC-ville,” and that it would be a radical departure from the typical page turner of need-to-know PowerPoints, we simply decided to have fun with categorizing and embellishment (e.g. having a co-worker act as a waiter in a coffee shop to introduce employees to the ‘perks’ of employment).

Q. How was the project team structured?

 The creative/development team consisted of one instructional designer, a videographer/editor and scriptwriter, an additional 3D modeler/artist who helped build a couple of the interiors and myself – who modeled the balance of the interiors, digitally painted the home screen art and developed the functionality in Flash. We also compelled a little more than 15 coworkers to be our screen talent.

There were then the few internal customers in HR that were involved in the final QA and approval process.

Q. How do you usually track all the details and manage projects?

 Fortunately I work for a company with a strong history in software development, so many of those processes and tools have been adopted across the enterprise. Larger projects require a Project Plan complete with work breakdown structures, details of QC, verification & validation plans and the means of version control. For ongoing internal efforts—lesser projects—we still adhere to given assumptions.

Here’s an idea of what the process looks like:

  1. The internal team will usually meet to coordinate internal tasks and expectations.
  2. Typically, most of the team will meet with the client to kick off the effort to collect requirements and begin brainstorming the solution.
  3. An Instructional Designer will take the lead in developing storyboards.
  4. After client approval of the storyboards, media development begins.

 Having full audio and video production capabilities in-house definitely affords us a higher degree of quality control and timeliness, so that switching roles from illustrator/animator to developer I can build and contribute my QC practically in tandem, before the product goes out to a peer or alpha review.  Our company has used a range of version control apps depending on the project’s scope & needs, including IBM Rational Clearcase, MS Sharepoint and Alienbrain.

 Below are a couple snapshots of the project Craig discussed.

New Hire Orientation

New Hire Orientation

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  1. June 8, 2011 at 1:32 am

    The courses, are really nicely designed, or maybe I shoud say crafted. I also like the look and feel of the website.
    Nevertheless I have a question about the process. Where is the DESIGN process in your 4 step approach?

    • June 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      If speaking in regards to visual design, the majority of that thinking occurs almost immediately following (often times during) the kickoff meeting, or definately in tandem with storyboard/instructional development. Our graphic designers typically will conduct some pre-meeting intel if possible, but also come with a range of questions to help drive their prototypes. And if any sense of brand or identity program exists (which I find is becoming more rare in our client space), they ofcourse take that into account.

  2. June 10, 2011 at 7:02 am

    The important thing in developing an e-learning course is the structure of its process. Before developing this kind of technologies, you will need to have a step-by-step process that can help its user to handle the training or exam easily. The design would really help but the content of the course is the most important. You need to provide the needs and wants of your users.

  3. Brian A
    June 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Gary, thanks for sharing this interview – the course looks great from the screenshots. Are you aware if there is a demo of this course that we could see? Would love to see more than screenshots!

    Thanks as always,
    Brian Allen

  4. June 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Hey Brian! Great to hear from you. I will go back to the company that has the relationship with the author, Craig Bunyea, and ask them to ping him for a response. He has been very prompt so far so there should be a response here shortly.

    Take good care!

    G.

  5. C Bunyea
    July 1, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for the interest -I’ll get working on a version void of certain company info and let you know where to find it.

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