You, a corporate eLearning buyer, wake up in a cold sweat, vision hazy and the taste of last night’s Ambien in your mouth. As you wake, you realize what you have been trying to forget: Your expensive eLearning development is going south. How could this have happened?

You trusted the eLearning vendor because they had fancy clients. You saw the impressive samples of dancing graphics, the video overlay of earnest, attractive young women saying all the right things to employees, the soothing sounds of audio overlay, and comprehensive knowledge checks. Wow.

It is like an oasis of possibility shimmering right before your eyes that you can’t quite touch. Just like the fast food ads that show you the perfect, enticing sandwich but when you open the box at the drive-through you find a melted, soggy mess.

Welcome to your nightmare.

Yesterday your vendor moved the deadlines – again – and you know something is rotten in Denmark. What do you do now that your job and reputation are on the line for a high-profile eLearning delivery? What if it’s late? What if it is just plain bad?

The following are some well-known industry red flags that you should keep an eye out for during your development process to avoid development failure (Broadbent, 2002):

  • Your vendor designs one-size-fits-all turnkey eLearning materials to create visual impact, but not much else. Beware of buying “Edutainment” that will not create learner performance outcomes.

  • Your vendor does not consult effectively with stakeholders when developing learning materials. If you are not on time with your deliveries, they should be working with you closely to avoid timeline issues.

  • Your vendor concentrates on content, not on learning strategies. How much will your students learn without the rigor of learning objectives and assessment strategies?

  • Your vendor uses the latest technology and plug-ins to create pizzazz, whether relevant or not. Not relevant = not good. Or they aren’t even considering new technologies. Mobile? You should be asking.

  • Your vendor does not meet their alpha deadlines or they do not conduct alpha and beta testing to test training materials. Are you in the development loop or on the sidelines?

  • Your vendor is overwhelmed and is hiring subcontractors to get the job done. They will represent these professionals as part of their organization, but they are in fact, contractors to them. If deadlines are missed by your vendor and they pass duties on to a new team, they have a convenient scapegoat. Not good for you. Subcontractors are not allowed to contact you, so you may never know if there is an internal problem lies within your contracted vendor. If you contact them, that is another matter.

Don’t let bad eLearning development happen to YOU. Sweet dreams.

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