Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cutting costs with student help

Using college or graduate students for e-learning development projects can be a wonderfully affordable way to get a high-quality product. Many colleges offer programs in instructional design and writing for the Web. Instructors are often looking for "real-world" projects for students, who need practice working with a real client and want items for their portfolios.

If you decide to go this route I'd suggest approaching the task with a very clear, specific project in mind. My most successful student-supported project, for instance, took the form of a semester assignment, due by the end of the term, for which students would receive a grade. A friend, meantime, brought in a summer intern to "help" with "e-learning". Vague ideas about just what the student would spend the summer doing resulted in much frustration for both the company and the student. It's not reasonable to expect a 20- year old part-time worker to come in and initiate projects on her own.

Strong suggestion: approach an instructor with a specific project in mind, contract with the students for outcomes and deadlines, and provide milestones and feedback along the way.