Elearning and Seat Time


When drafting an elearning contract for a client, they often want to know how long each elearning module will take for their learners to complete, otherwise known as ‘seat time’. The general rule of thumb is one minute per slide, but that doesn’t always apply.

One of the main issues is if a slide contains interactive content.


Our solution is that in the storyboarding phase, each layer of interactive content on the same slide is separated out into separate slides in the storyboard. This way, while there may be fewer total slides in the programmed elearning, the storyboard will give a better picture of how much content is really there.


Another thing that affects seat time is if there is branched content, or other types of content not every learner will be required to complete. Then you may have to calculate seat time for the different branches of your elearning.


Narration and other audio content have a huge effect on seat time. One sentence doesn’t sound like a lot until it is said out loud, and lists of items can take up a lot of time. There are online tools available where you can paste in your elearning scripts which will estimate the runtime for you. Using text-to-speech programs can also give you an idea of how long your audio will be.


Finally, consider the human factor. Is your audience expected to study the material closely, or use it as a quick review? Are they using the elearning between other tasks, or as part of a larger training course? This will factor into your seat time. You may find you may need to break up your elearning into smaller courses if your audience is strapped for time, or combine multiple topics into a more comprehensive course if the content should be learned as a whole.


The takeaway is that it’s important to take into account all these factors that will affect the seat time of your elearning, and that you need to keep these in mind if you want to make the most of your learner’s time.


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