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How long does it take to develop a course?
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Course Development Times

It is always difficult to predict how long any project will take - the news is full of projects that have overrun and overspent. You could estimate the time by using Murphy's Law of Time Management:

  • Estimate how long you think the project will take.
  • Double the time.
  • Move the time up into the next time unit.

So, if you have agreed to take on one of those notorious five-minute jobs, double the time to ten minutes and then move the time up to the next time unit. This means that the job is more likely to take ten hours!

Another approach is to apply your and others' experience of how long it took to do similar work in the past. The following guidelines are based on my own experience of developing courses.

The time required to develop a new course depends on:

  • the complexity of the course;
  • how much material has to be produced;
  • the standard of materials;
  • what is already available.

The following are some guidelines for course development times (a ratio of 10:1 means ten hours development for every one hour of course time):

Computer-based 100:1
Complex/technical 40:1
Extensive revision 17:1
Moderate revision 11:1
Using existing modules 6:1

Of course, all this depends on the length of the course. Estimating this is another difficult feat of time estimation, but this is often taken out of your hands because you are told how long you've got to do the training - and with budget constraints and cut-backs, it's nearly always much less time that you know you need to do the training how you would like to do it.


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