Development – A Factory model

The Development phase is treated as a factory model which may be more appropriate for large-scale projects than for individual courses. The team management section could be a separate text, and while the graphics section should add a paragraph on 3D modelers, it’s a practical and useful overview. The scheduling section should include usage of Gantt charts.

The most thorough aspect of the chapter was on post-project activities which are often ignored:

  • post mortem debriefing
  • deployment
  • recommendations
  • training
  • documentation
  • summative evaluation
  • client evaluation
  • project cost analysis

Let’s get down to business

The Smith/Regan chapter, even though it dealt more with print production than is my particular interest, was incredibly specific. In my previous career, I worked for a textbook publisher (Boo! Hiss! Textbook prices!) and so the details on print production were familiar. What I decided to take away from this chapter was to draw parallels among print (a medium I used to know), online (a medium I sort of know), and video (a medium I don’t know at all).

The stages are parallel. The addition is that every medium starts with an outline.

Stage Print Online Video
Draft Draft text with thumbnails Rough storyboards Script
Design Design mockup (Lorem ipso) Design template screens Storyboard scripts
Layout Dummy (page layout) Complete storyboards, finished graphics Shooting, voice-over and special effects
Produce Pre-press Load storyboards into screens Post-production editing
Duplicate Print run Post files on server Copy tapes or post files on server

The chart pairing outcomes with structure was somewhat simplistic (for a problem-solving outcome, use a problem-solution structure) but two of the examples echoed Gagne’s work: teach procedural rules with a chronology, and teach relational rules with a cause and effect structure.
I was surprised to see no discussion on the line length debate (experts recommend 40-80 characters, a 100% differential which thus provides little direction), and several of the print-specific suggestions demand modification for online delivery:

  • Font size is less critical online because users can easily resize text, but font family variation should be minimal (I would argue this is true in print as well).
  • Page breaks are critical in print to preserve narrative (we sometimes adjusted line leading and point size to avoid bad page breaks) but are less important online because users can scroll pages; this is not the case in CBI/CBT where information is presented in discrete screens (equivalent to book pages).

A few other marginal notes I made:

  • The CBT discussion was accurate but dated in covering pseudo-code and tools.
  • The discussion of visual paragraphing in video was a revelation.
  • The section on Instructor’s Guides was helpful but should have covered tools (such as references, suggested individual and small group activities, overhead masters, video sources, test items, etc.) that are typically found in Guides, instead of than concentrating on format.

The time and cost figures were in the ballpark of my experience, although for simplicity, I have often used the following ratios:

50:1 Instructor-led
100:1 Print
150:1 Online
200:1 Video

The coverage of CBI instead of Web-based instruction inflated the article’s estimates for computer-based instruction. What I didn’t see was a cost-benefit analysis of media, along the lines of these propositions:

  • Instructor-led costs less to produce but more to deliver.
  • Online and video costs more to produce but less to deliver.
  • Modifications to instructor-led content are relatively fast and inexpensive.
  • Modifications to online content are relatively slow and moderately expensive.
  • Modifications to video content are relatively slow and extremely expensive.

I found this chapter extremely practical (despite my criticisms) and have already used part of it in a faculty development workshop.