That’s a question that gets asked a lot on one or two of the training forums I occasionally visit. Unfortunately, similar to the question “How long is a piece of string?” the question falls into the “unrecognizable” category. Equally unfortunate is that respondents’ answers are wild guesses; They’ve ranged from 40 hours an hour training to various nominal percentages over the past six months.
As humans, we like to put everything in quantifiable or qualitative boxes…nice little boxes with convenient, known dimensions. We can feel safe and secure with amounts or qualities that we can understand and control. Of course, we also have to face the practical need to allocate costs to activities and therefore need to know how long these activities last. We need to know how much we should pay a specialist to develop a program. At best, there is always a large element of conjecture. The guesswork arises because of the large number of variables that accumulate in any instructional design activity. For example, how much content needs to be covered to achieve the learning outcomes of the program? What is the expected rate of uptake by the proposed audience? How is it delivered (instructional interventions are less labor intensive than, for example, e-learning designs)?
There are not only the structural variables, but also variables related to the instructional designer or the design team. People with extensive substantive knowledge in a particular area can create step-by-step guides much more easily than someone with less extensive knowledge. It is often necessary to appoint one or more subject matter experts to inform instructional designers how content knowledge, skills or attitudes will be applied in the workplace.
My experience is that while it’s almost impossible to pinpoint exactly how long it will take to develop a (substantial) training activity, there are a few ways that an estimate can be made more reliable. Some of the following methods might be helpful.
Calculate average costs based on empirical values or work on maxima. That is, if it took an average of 10 hours to design a set of teaching programs, it is a reasonable assumption that it will take about 10 hours to design something similar. When estimating, it is always better to err on the higher cost side. Therefore, instead of using average times to develop, your calculations may have some margin for lag when using maxima. If I were considering averaging, I would select the maximum duration from the list of programs used to calculate the average and use it.
It is also possible to allocate the hours and then design the lessons to match the time available. This can be risky, but it’s not as unprofessional as it might first seem. For example, let’s say that everyone in an organization has been allotted an hour to receive an update on workplace health and safety issues. Perhaps a suitable mediation strategy could be to do a ‘show and tell’ with a handout provided at the end for further consolidation. I’ve always believed that chalk and talk presentation methods are not “training” because they lack some form of assessment; we do not know if the participants learned what was intended. However, sometimes this type of presentation can be useful, and it’s hard to argue that people don’t leave with knowledge they didn’t have when they arrived.
A third method is to ask someone who has completed a similar project how long it took. This can be a rough guide, but is often more helpful than making assumptions with no real justification.
As a training manager, I have included a large amount for development when estimating my annual budget if I did it separately, or included a charge in my training delivery costs of say 25%. The mass evolution number was a maximum I had calculated in previous design activities. Typically, my team would overspend on one activity and underspend on the next, and when the budget ran out, we were given a choice of either canceling other planned training activities and reallocating funds, not developing any more activities for the year, or starting a business Case to our finance department for additional funds.
So the message in this article is not to blindly follow the hours, percentages, or other information that people put out on training forums, often with the belief that it’s “standard,” “industry-accepted,” or anything else. Do your own research and come up with estimates that fit the variables that exist in your internal and external environment.
A well thought out training proposal (or outline) can be of great help in estimating development costs as it focuses on the facts e.g. B. the target group, the learning outcomes, the duration of the training, the delivery method and much more. This is the data that informs your instructional design team. An added benefit is that if you have your training proposal approved by a funding officer, your planning and development estimate is more likely to be approved as well.
Published May 2005. Copyright Robin Henry 2005
Thanks to Robin Henry | #long #design #develop #training #activity