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Implementation, implementation, implementation

This post on the importance of implementation was written by Andrew Downes and first appeared on the Epic blog on 6th November 2013.

Before I worked at Epic, my job was to manage the implementation of e-learning systems and content at one of the UK’s largest Further Education colleges. There were other teams that I worked with who were responsible for making and procuring systems and content, but the goal of my team was to make it all work in reality. I lead a team of trainers and support workers to ensure that the launch of new systems and content went as smoothly as possible and made sure that support was in place when things went wrong.

A photo of two elearning designers discussing the way a learning course is implemented

It’s easy to overlook the implementation of a new system or product and this is no less true of e-learning. At Epic, we often hear that our bespoke e-learning products have been used to great effect in driving business improvement, but occasionally we’re heartbroken to hear that what we’ve produced has been left to gather dust in the corner, unused and unloved.

This lack of implementation plan isn’t unique to e-learning software either. I’ve heard countless tales of schools, for example, who have purchased a suite of iPads but have no plan or budget to use them effectively. Recently one teacher complained to me that she doesn’t like using the iPads because learner’s work is stuck on the particular device they worked on. This could easily be dealt with using a simple cloud storage solution, but it’s too late now; the entire budget has been spent on iPads with nothing left to make them usable.

Implementation is vital, and needs to be considered at the start of any project. Leave it out, and you risk wasting your investment. Here are my top five tips for implementing e-learning products in your organisation:

1. Have a plan – too often implementation isn’t even considered. Make sure you know how the e-learning product will be used in reality and how you’re going to drive take up. Consider how the product will be marketed.

2. Allow time for implementation – leave a reasonable gap between when your product will be finished and when you launch to allow you to sort out details of implementation. Don’t tell your production team about this gap; their deadline shouldn’t be allowed to overrun into implementation time.

3. Make using the product as easy as possible – a lot of thought in making a product user friendly can be easily undone by making the product very difficult to access. Consider how learners get to the product in the first place and how it relates to other e-learning products they already use.

4. Deal with technical issues – problems with pop-up blockers, old web browsers or poor bandwidth? Work with your IT team to test, catch and deal with these issues before launching the product.

5. Provide support – by following the steps above, you’ll greatly reduce the number of problems experienced by your learners but there will always be something (or someone) you’ve overlooked. Make sure you’re ready to deal with issues quickly, and that learners know the most effective way to contact you in the event of a problem.

If you’d like to talk more about implementation, contact us here