In 1992 the novel “The Positronic Man” was released. Based on stories written by legendary scholar and author Isaac Asimov, the story is about a household robot named Andrew that lives with the family it serves. Over time Andrew, in a quest to become the first “free” robot and ultimately more human than machine, starts to replace its own robot parts with organic material. Considering the story was based on work by one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time, and a man that had an immense intellect, one would think that the translation from book to film would have been easy, and wildly successful.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Year’s after the book was released it was turned in to a movie titled “Bicentennial Man” starring Robin Williams. In a nutshell the result was not good, and considered by many experts in both film and books to be an incredibly poor interpretation of what Asimov had created, and in fact the movie is on just about every list that ranks great books that made poor movies.
After considering the above one can only assume that those responsible for turning the Asimov vision into reality were not clear on what the objective of the story was, or did not understand that what had been so eloquently stated in words was not necessarily going to be easily turned in to another medium, in this case film.
In the world of training development this happens all too often. A customer has created materials that they feel are well written, clearly stated and effectively meets the learning objectives, but when these are provided to an eLearning vendor so that the words can be turned in to eLearning training, the meaning get’s lost in translation to the point the customer is dissatisfied with the end result and feel their work and time have been wasted. The reason’s as to the cause of these issues are numerous, and can include anything from the vendor simply was not equipped or lacked the resources to manage the project, all the way to a complete lack of understanding as to the objective. Regardless the cause one thing is clear, and that is most if not all issues can be avoided at the same critical point, and that is when the vendor is selected.
eLearning training vendors while perhaps numerous in the industry, are definitely not all the same. Some specialise in a specific type of training development while others will do everything from creating a job aid to developing an hour long training video. There are even vendors that do not actually create anything for their clients but instead outsource all of their work. So knowing there are so many companies to choose from, how does a client decide what eLearning vendor is right for them?
Selecting the right vendor can be difficult and perhaps not always done the same way, but regardless of the scope and size of the project, these essential qualities and factors should always be considered during the selection process:
Experience: What is the background of the eLearning professional? Have they ever worked with a larger client, be that National or even Global? Does the team have the necessary work experience and tenure in training development and facilitation as well as the necessary maturity to manage my account? Big or small, it is important all projects have the right people working on them, people who understand the nuances of working with both larger companies and smaller, private organisations. You also need a team that is passionate about training, take pride in their work and have a plethora of experience in all areas of eLearning development and facilitation.
Available Resources & Qualifications: How big is the vendor? How many people will be available to work on the project? What are their qualifications? If your project includes video production it will be vital to have an experienced script design person, videographer, editor and project manager at a minimum. Often some companies will be contracted to create a professional learning video, only to realise too late there is much more involved than having access to a decent camera and that they do not have the expertise for the job. The result is then a video product that is poorly lit, choppy, uneven camera work and sounds terrible.
Examples of completed projects: Regardless of the project a reputable eLearning vendor should be able to provide multiple examples of their work, be that an online brochure, interactive game, whiteboard animations or learning video to name a few. Companies that are not able to provide quick access of work samples should be avoided for the obvious reason if they cannot provide an example, they probably have not done the work before.
Trust & Reputation: Finally, if nothing else trust your own instincts as this, along with the recommendations of those whose opinion you value should be a good starting point as you evaluate the fit of a perspective vendor. All good eLearning vendors will readily, if not anxiously show off their awards and accommodations which can be helpful and certainly well earned, however above this should be considered the vendor’s reputation with those companies they have worked for. Ultimately, if you want to know if someone is capable of doing great work, the best person to ask is those they have done it for already. Good advice I think, and hopefully something that is considered before another masterpiece in literature is lost in translation.
To learn more about eLearning training solutions offered by Pathways please visit our website at http://www.Pathwaysinc.ca
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