Save yourself some time, some hassle, and some cash. No need to toss your files on a thumb drive, burn a CD, or send them bit by bit in a string of emails. Today, there are a lot of free options out there for transferring large files electronically that saves a lot of time and hassle.
Here are a few options (and personal reviews) of some services for transfering hundreds of megabytes, even gigabytes, of data for free. There are quite a few other file transfer options out there, but many require a fee.
1. Senduit.com = I used to use SendUIT.com all the time because of how simple the website was, and it was once the best free option I had found. I stopped using it perhaps two years ago now when it started timing out on me. I've tried it a few times since, and haven't seen the issue fixed.
2. YouSendIt.com = I then switched to YouSendIt.com, which had allowed me to send 100MB files for free, though there site wasn't nearly as simple as the SendUIT site. About a year ago they dropped the limit from 100MB to 50MB for the transfer of free files. Since I regularly have to send files larger than this with all the video and interactive work I do, I jumped ship. Not a fan of paying for a service that was previously free.
3. WeTransfer.com = Today, I use (and regularly recommend) WeTransfer.com. Why? It's simple, it's free, I can transfer files up to 2GB in size at a time, and they pay for their service through advertising (not subscriptions) so I don't have to worry about all the added annoyance of marketing emails and having to subscribe to yet another website. I'm a big fan. For more information about them, you can visit their site at WeTransfer.info.
I'm trying a new thing with the blog to get myself into the habit of writing articles on a regular basis. I'm going to try to just write about topics while I'm actually doing different projects. I figured that might be a good way to go about things since the topic's fresh in my mind.
This week I have seven different courses that are in development and being reviewed. So I thought I'd talk about review cycles.
In a traditional/waterfall project model, there are typically three formal review cycles for an elearning course:
1. Prototype (aka. Alpha)
3. Final (aka. Gold, Live, Production)
The prototype is a rough first pass at the module. It tends to be static, unfinished, and riddled with notes about what content will be there instead of containing some of the actual content (e.g., animations, videos, graphics, interactions). It's only done enough to give the client an idea of what the end product will look like. This way they get an early glimpse at the elearning to validate that it it's heading in the right direction, and it gives the development team a chance to course correct early if it's not headed in the right direction.
The prototype review should not be a thorough content review because the content isn't there. It's all mostly concepts and ideas. Instead, you should be reviewing a prototype for these three things:
1. The core content is there. (i.e., the right topics are being discussed though perhaps need more detail)
2. The flow is correct (i.e., the order of topics. slides flow clearly and logically.)
3. The look, feel, and overall vision appear to be heading in the right direction.
That's it. Nailing down these pieces will give you the skeleton you need to flesh out your content, and also give you a chance to make any necessary redesigns of the course before too much effort is wasted.
I usually tell clients that the beta is between 70-90% of the way to a final product. The purpose of the beta version is to give the clients a clear first viewing of the final course, minus a few (hopefully minor) elements. This way they have a clear picture of the end product and can provide you with all the necessary feedback you need to create the final product they want. So when you're developing your beta version, actually try to create the final product. This way you get all the feedback you need, and hopefully minimize the work needed to create the final version.
IMPORTANT: Time and again developers push all the work to the very end of the product, and this is what causes them to miss deadlines and fail to meet client's expectations. Avoid this by creating a solid beta!
When bringing your beta version to your clients for review, basically tell them to pull out all the stops - don't hold back any feedback. This should be the most rigorous and nit-picky review of the three. The last thing you want is for people to hold back until the final review, and then you feel broadsided with major changes when you thought you were nearing the end of the project.
The final version, is (of course) intended to be the final version of the course. But this is rarely (read: never) the case. If you've done your beta and alpha reviews right, and managed your client's expectations well, then you should be about 95% done at this point and nearly all the changes should be minor after the final review because you would have gotten all the major changes out of the way in the beta.
When facilitating the final review of the elearning course, present it in a way that doesn't draw out feedback that wouldn't have been provided without your prompting. You can *always* change and improve ANY product. It's not about perfection. It's about achieving the project goals and client satisfaction. That said, do NOT squelch client feedback. If a client has feedback that would affect either the budget or deadline of the project, simply tell them how long the change would take and how much more it might cost (assuming it pushes the project out of scope) and let them decide what to do.
Many developers and consultants are too quick to call something a "Change Order" or "Scope Creep". I've (sadly) even seen some who deliberately underbid projects with the intent of adding charges in this manner later on once a client's locked in. Sickening. I can happily say I've yet to have to do a change order for a project (though it's bound to happen eventually). Instead of yelling "Scope Creep" at every turn, take the opportunity to go beyond your client's expectations. Clients find this a breath of fresh air and they really appreciate when you put more effort into something than what's in the contract. And, selfishly, I find this sort of customer service leads to repeat business.
The Ongoing Review Cycle
One last thing regarding reviews. I just presented you with a traditional, waterfall type approach to elearning development and the accompanying reviews. That said, this is not all you should be doing. In principle, a waterfall type plan looks great on paper, but I've never been involved in any project where things work just as planned in a waterfall type scenario. Projects that work best tend to be those that incorporate small, informal, ongoing development and review. Having mini-reviews with one or two stakeholders throughout the development process, will help the formal reviews go much more smoothly. The more you can involve clients outside the formal reviews, the more likely they will go as planned.
So that's the elearning development phase in a nut shell. There's gads more detail I could add of course, but we'll save that kind of stuff for other posts.
*blows the dust off his blog* *coughs profusely*
So things have been busy, which is good for the business, and bad for blogging. Shame on me. But I thought I should take a second and dust off our little blog here to help out my wonderful intern Gina Reed with a challenge she's in for one of her classes.
On the first day of class, Gina's professor (Jeff Lin) threw down a challenge to his student's to see who could achieve the best Google ranking for the word hydropackulicity. Gina told me about this challenge, and I immediately got excited. I wanted in, but of course, I'm not allowed to play. Boo. In any case, I have to give props to her professor for giving his students an assignment that'll teach them real skills through actual application. Really great idea.
With that, Gina's now in a race to the top of the rankings, and I thought I'd do what I can to help (and what I could do to get you folks to take a second and do the same). I had a lot of people teach me things and support me when I was getting my degree (I'm sure you did too). I thought this was one small way we all could pay it forward.
"What can I do to help?" Glad you asked.
- Visit Her Website: Hydropackulicity-challenge.com
- Comment in her blog.
- +1, Tweet, Like her website: Hydropackulicity-challenge.com
- Post a link to her website in your own blog
As of now, she's appearing on page 2. Let's see if we can't get her to page 1, result 1.
Well, hello there. You weren't supposed to drop by quite yet, though it's not really your fault. We just haven't quite gotten everything tidied up around here for visitors yet. Most embarrassing.
As you can see, we're in the process of getting this blog designed and developed. Fear not, soon we'll be carrying on endlessly about rapid elearning templates, instructional design best practices, building internal learning and development capabilities, knowledge management, performance support, mobile learning, and all sorts of other fascinating topics.
We're making great progress toward getting this blog and our website (www.TheLearningSmith.com) up and running, and it should be ready to rumble by 1/1/2010. So why not check back then, or you could just subscribe to our RSS feed to get notified when things are up and running.
Until then, feel free to follow me on Twitter, if you just can't wait to find out what we're all about here at TheLearningSmith, Inc., or kick me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talk to you in the New Year.