With the right team in place, your organization can establish and a successful e-learning program that meets the needs of your learners.
The only way to create an online learning program that works and complements your organization is to plug into the right brainpower. But your team of training employees will look a little different from your average training staff. The best programs have teams who are well trained in working with an online student base. Here are the essential members you'll need for your team.
This is an executive-level manager who is an advocate for the team and able to approve any necessary expenditures. The decision-maker is also the key approver on all decisions—especially ones that require a budget. This person may not attend meetings, but at least reviews executive summaries or meets with the project leader of the team for status. Having executive-level support is essential for a successful program.
An executive-level decision-maker must be internal.
The project manager oversees the full life cycle of the project. This manager also interfaces with the internal client and e-learning team, providing schedules and organizing deliverables so the project keeps on track. The project manager ensures the team has the information it needs to get the job done.
You can hire an outside project manager, but they should work very closely with an internal liaison.
Depending on the nature of your course, and if you're creating it internally, you will need an instructional designer and/or a writer. The instructional designer takes the instructional material and arranges it in a way that's informative, engaging and serves your pedagogic goals. In other words, they design the online course. Instructional designer Christy Tucker has a nice article on what she does for a living.
This may or may not be the same as a writer. We at Talance tend to work with an independent curriculum writer who specializes in editorial content. This person works closely with the instructional designer to create an interactive course that educates.
Both of these roles can be appointed to outside consultants.
Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
The instructional designer or curriculum writer works with subject matter experts to develop the content. An SME is not needed for every project. When the subject is new within the organization, the instructional designer may research the subject via books and journals or interview experts in the field.
A subject matter expert can be an internal staff member or an outside professional.
The editor improves writing and handles proofreading. It is widely believed by many that they can edit their own work (this is never true), or that anyone is qualified to edit (rarely true). Editing is where too many administrators skimp, and that's a mistake. Hire a qualified editor and your final product will better engage your audience.
An editor can be an outside hire, and in rare circumstances, an internal appointee.
A graphic designer overlaps in some ways with an instructional designer, depending on the course. However the chief output of the graphic designer is images, iconography, animations, the look and feel of the course, and enhanced stock photos to fit project needs.
A graphic designer can be a qualified internal staff member, but make sure they are indeed qualified. Otherwise, use an outside designer.
The media specialist produces and edits audio and video. This is almost certainly an outside consultant.
The technical producer understands techspeak and can assemble all the elements into a running course. This person will create and apply custom CSS, mark up pages with HTML, add interactivity, and providing the technical coding necessary to ensure the course can interface with a learning management system (LMS) if required.
The technical producer is usually from a third party or vendor.
The LMS administrator is an expert at configuring the learning platform, from enrolling participants to creating online quizzes.
If you host your own platform, this could be an internal staff member, or it can be someone from the managed hosting company (such as Talance) you use.
Runs quality assurance (QA) checks by testing the course from a technical perspective and ensuring it matches the way the course was planned. Testers usually work off testing plans so they can make sure learners can use each part of the system.
A tester is usually from a third party or vendor, although it's smart to perform internal testing as well.
Facilitators are trainers experienced in both in-person and online instruction who help learners create a cohesive learning community in which they share ideas, apply their knowledge, give feedback, and make reflections on their work.
You can use your existing training staff, but they should have a background in online learning or be trained to do so.
Free download: A step-by-step guide for training employees online
Learn more about what and who you need to set up an online training program with our free guide E-learning Strategy Essentials.