I have often been asked the question (or a variation thereof), how many hours does it take to develop one hour of learning? The average time to develop one hour of learning varies based on several factors such as content complexity, delivery method, target audience, designer’s expertise, and technology used.
Without appearing too vague, it can take somewhere between 50 to 700 hours to develop one hour of learning. On average, at Optivly, we find that it takes about 3 weeks to complete a typical eLearn build of a small to medium size module. This three week duration includes feedback time from the client. If you exclude this, then its a solid 2 weeks / 80 hours for an elearning module that is around 20 – 40 minutes in length.
It’s important to note that these estimates are just that – estimates – and the actual time to develop one hour of learning can be higher or lower depending on the specific project and its requirements. However, these findings serve as a useful starting point for organizations to understand the time and resources required to create high-quality learning materials.
Factors affecting the time to develop one hour of learning
|Content complexity refers to the level of difficulty and sophistication of the learning material being developed. It encompasses various aspects of the content, including the subject matter, its depth, the amount of information is covered, and the level of interactivity required. For example, a simple lecture-style lesson on basic arithmetic will require fewer resources and less time to develop than a highly interactive simulation that requires creating custom assets and using advanced technology.|
Content complexity can impact the time to develop one hour of learning in several ways.
More complex content may require more research, content creation, and development time. It may also require more effort to ensure the content is accurate and engaging for the target audience. Furthermore, complex content may also require the use of specialized technology and assets, which can add to the overall time and cost of development. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the complexity of the content when determining the time to develop one hour of learning. This can help organizations make informed decisions about the resources and budget required for their learning projects.
|The delivery method refers to the way in which learning content is presented to the learners. It can impact the time it takes to develop one hour of learning by influencing the type of content that needs to be created, the technology required, and the level of interactivity involved.|
Some common delivery methods include:
The time required to develop one hour of learning will vary based on the delivery method chosen. For example, developing an ILT session may require more time and resources than creating a self-paced eLearning module. On the other hand, creating a microlearning activity may be quicker and less resource-intensive than developing a comprehensive eLearning course.
The time required to develop one hour of learning will vary based on the delivery method chosen. For example, developing an ILT session may require more time and resources than creating a self-paced eLearning module. On the other hand, creating a microlearning activity may be quicker and less resource-intensive than developing a comprehensive eLearning course. Therefore, organizations must consider the delivery method when determining the time to develop one hour of learning and factor in the resources required to deliver the content effectively.
|The target audience refers to the group of learners for whom the learning content is being developed. Understanding the target audience is crucial for developing effective and engaging learning content. The target audience can impact the time it takes to develop one hour of learning by influencing the content that needs to be created and the approach used to deliver it.|
For example, developing learning content for an adult workforce may require a different approach compared to developing content for children. The target audience’s age, education level, prior knowledge, language, and cultural background can impact the content and delivery method.
Additionally, the target audience can also impact the level of interactivity and technology required. For example, developing content for a tech-savvy audience may require more advanced technology and multimedia than content for a non-technical audience.
Therefore, it is crucial to consider the target audience when determining the time to develop one hour of learning. This can help ensure that the content is appropriate, effective, and engaging for the learners.
|A designer’s expertise refers to the knowledge and skills of the person or team responsible for developing the learning content. The designer’s expertise can significantly impact the time it takes to develop one hour of learning.|
An experienced designer with a deep understanding of adult learning principles, instructional design, and technology can create high-quality content more efficiently compared to someone with limited experience. They will be able to identify and overcome obstacles more quickly, make informed decisions about the content and delivery method, and use technology effectively. On the other hand, a designer with limited experience may require more time and support to develop the same quality of content. They may need to research best practices, seek guidance from more experienced colleagues, and test and refine the content multiple times to ensure it meets the desired standards.
Therefore, the designer’s expertise is an important factor to consider when determining the time to develop one hour of learning. Organizations can invest in upskilling and training their designers to improve their expertise and efficiency, which can help reduce the time and cost of learning content development.
|The time required to develop one hour of learning can significantly impact a project’s budget and timeline. If the time required to develop the content is underestimated, it can result in cost overruns and delay project completion. For example, if a project is budgeted based on the assumption that it will take 10 hours to develop one hour of learning, but it actually takes 20 hours, then the budget and timeline for the project will need to be adjusted accordingly. This can impact the resources available for other aspects of the project, such as marketing, evaluation, or additional development.|
Moreover, if the timeline for the project is set based on the assumption that it will take a certain amount of time to develop the content, and this timeline is exceeded, it can cause delays that impact other aspects of the project. For example, if the content is not completed on time, it can impact the delivery of other training activities, such as ILT or eLearning sessions, and delay the overall project completion.
Therefore, it is important to accurately estimate the time required to develop one hour of learning to ensure that the budget and timeline for the project are realistic and achievable. This can help organizations make informed decisions about the resources required for their learning projects and avoid potential delays and cost overruns.
Techniques for reducing the time to develop one hour of learning
|Reuse of existing materials|
|Reusing existing materials refers to using pre-existing content to create new learning materials rather than starting from scratch. This can significantly impact the time required to develop one hour of learning. Reusing existing materials can save time by reducing the amount of content that needs to be created from scratch. For example, if a training program covers similar content to a previous program, it may be possible to reuse some or all of the existing content, such as slides, videos, and assessments, rather than creating new content from scratch.|
In some cases, the existing content may need to be updated or adapted to meet the needs of the current audience or project. However, even with these updates, the time required to develop one hour of learning can be significantly reduced compared to starting from scratch. Moreover, reusing existing materials can also help ensure that the content is consistent, high-quality, and meets the desired standards. This can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the learning program and enhance the learner experience.
Therefore, organizations should consider the potential for reusing existing materials when determining the time required to develop one hour of learning. This can help reduce the time and cost of developing learning content and improve the overall quality and impact of the learning program.
|Collaboration and teamwork|
|Working in a collaborative environment can lead to more efficient and effective content development. For example, different team members can bring their own expertise and skills to the table, allowing for a more diverse range of ideas and approaches. Collaboration can also help ensure that the content is developed more organized and streamlined, reducing the time required for rework and revisions.|
Moreover, teamwork can also help ensure that the content is high quality and meets the desired standards. For example, subject matter experts can provide feedback and guidance on the content, while instructional designers can ensure that the content is engaging and appropriate for the target audience.
However, collaboration and teamwork can also have some challenges, such as coordinating schedules, communicating effectively, and managing conflicting ideas and priorities. To mitigate these challenges, it is important to have clear roles and responsibilities, effective communication processes, and a shared understanding of the project goals and objectives.
|Adoption of agile development methodologies|
|The adoption of agile development methodologies refers to the use of iterative, flexible, and customer-focused approaches to learning content development. This can significantly impact the time required to develop one hour of learning. Agile development methodologies are designed to allow for flexibility and responsiveness to change throughout the development process. |
This can result in more efficient and effective development, as changes and feedback can be incorporated in real-time rather than waiting until the end of the development process. For example, in an agile development process, the content may be developed in small, manageable increments, such as modules or topics, rather than all at once. This allows for regular feedback and testing and reduces the risk of developing content that does not meet the target audience’s needs.
Moreover, agile development methodologies can also help to foster collaboration and teamwork, as different team members can work together to develop and refine the content. This can lead to a more streamlined and efficient development process, reducing the time required to develop one hour of learning. However, adopting agile development methodologies can also have some challenges, such as ensuring that all team members understand and adhere to the agile principles and processes.
It is important to have clear guidance, training, and support to mitigate these challenges for adopting agile methodologies. Therefore, organizations should consider the potential benefits and challenges of adopting agile development methodologies when determining the time required to develop one hour of learning. By embracing agile approaches, organizations can improve their learning content development’s efficiency, effectiveness, and impact.
|Use of templates and reusable assets|
|The use of templates and reusable assets refers to the utilization of pre-existing design elements, such as graphics, layouts, and templates, in the development of learning content. This can significantly impact the time required to develop one hour of learning. Templates and reusable assets can help streamline and simplify the content development process. |
For example, a well-designed template can provide a consistent look and feel for the content, reducing the time required to create visual elements from scratch. Similarly, reusable assets, such as graphics and illustrations, can be utilized in multiple pieces of content, reducing the time required to create new assets for each project. In addition, templates and reusable assets can also help ensure that the content is high quality and meets desired standards.
For example, by using pre-existing templates and assets, instructional designers can focus on the content and pedagogy rather than spending time on design and graphics. However, the use of templates and reusable assets can also have some limitations, such as a limited range of design options and the need to adapt the templates to meet the specific needs of each project. To mitigate these limitations, it is important to have a well-designed set of templates and reusable flexible and customizable assets to meet the needs of different projects.
|Automation of certain processes|
|Automation of certain processes refers to the use of technology to automate repetitive or time-consuming tasks in the development of learning content. This can significantly impact the time required to develop one hour of learning. For example, authoring tools, such as e-learning software, can help automate tasks such as creating slides, adding animations, and incorporating multimedia elements. This can greatly reduce the time required to create these elements, as the tools can perform these tasks more quickly and accurately than a manual process. |
In addition, the use of learning management systems (LMS) can also automate certain processes, such as tracking progress, generating reports, and delivering content. This can free up time for instructional designers to focus on more important tasks, such as creating and refining the content. Moreover, automation can also help to ensure that content is consistent, as the technology can enforce established standards and guidelines.
For example, authoring tools can automatically format text to match a specific style, reducing the risk of inconsistencies. However, the automation of certain processes can also have some limitations, such as the need for specialized skills and knowledge to operate the technology and the potential for errors or oversights in the automated process. To mitigate these limitations, it is important to have clear guidelines and training for the use of automation tools.
In this post, we have discussed various factors impacting the average time required to develop one hour of learning. We introduced the role of content complexity, delivery method, target audience, designer’s expertise, and adoption of agile development methodologies. We also discussed the importance of reusing existing materials, collaboration and teamwork, using templates and reusable assets, and automation of certain processes.
Understanding the time required to develop one hour of learning is critical for organizations to understand when thinking about commencing a project to build a learning resource or a course. By taking into account the various factors that can impact the time required to develop learning content, organizations can make informed decisions about their learning content development process and allocate resources effectively.
“How Long Does it Take to Develop One Hour of eLearning?” by the eLearning Industry (https://elearningindustry.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-develop-one-hour-of-elearning)
“Instructional Design Competencies: The Standards” by the Association for Talent Development (https://www.td.org/insights/instructional-design-competencies-the-standards)
Instructional Design Central, “Instructional Design Process,” (https://www.instructionaldesign.org/processes/analysis/).
Source Citation: Chapman, B. (2010). How Long Does it Take to Create Learning? [Research Study]. Published by Chapman Alliance