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Calculating Seat Time in eLearning

There are various factors you may want to consider when creating your completion estimate, to fine tune your calculations to determine your eLearning seat time you should consider the following factors:

1- Complexity of subject matter.
Usually, a complex subject matter requires more screens if you want to effectively analyze all of its aspects and present adequate examples. As a general rule, the seat time for one screen is roughly 30 seconds to 1 minute. In addition to the number of screens you’re including, it’s also important to account for the content included in those screens. For example, if you have created a screen that gradually reveals information or an interactive learning activity that requires numerous drag and drop interactions, then this will take more time to complete that a text based screen. If you are creating screens that may be more complex, it may be wise to do a test run before you develop your time estimations to get a better idea of how long it might take to complete each individual screen.

2- Complexity of multimedia elements.
The structure and interactive components of your eLearning course are also major considerations when estimating seat time in eLearning.  For example:

  • what is the nature of your multimedia elements?
  • Have you included highly interactive simulations that walk learners through a complex process?
  • Have you included branching scenario that leads to a variety of different outcomes?
  • Are you integrating a more simple and straightforward audio narration that doesn’t require any clickable actions?
  • Are learners able to skip passed certain audio, or will they have to sit through them in order to progress to the next lesson or module?

If you are unsure about the seat time of more complicated or technologically advanced content, then you may want to create an estimate for each one individually and factor that into your overall estimate at the end.

3- Amount of text.
The vocabulary you use and the amount of text you’ve created has a direct impact upon the seat time of your eLearning course. While a page with minimal or bullet pointed text may take just a few seconds to read, one that contains lengthy paragraphs might require a greater time commitment. Bear in mind that we humans tend to read twice as fast as we speak. Therefore, one minute of video might translate to 30 seconds of reading time for your learners. Also, you will have to factor in the size and font type of your text, as larger fonts may take less time to read, while more elaborate fonts might require more time to comprehend, especially if they aren’t used elsewhere in the eLearning course, as your learners will have to adjust to the change.

4- Time allotment for critical thinking and problem solving exercises.
There are going to be certain learning activities or lessons that are more complex or challenging, which means that they’ll take more time to work through. As such, you will probably want to leave room in your seat time estimate for exercises that require a great deal of critical thinking or problem solving, as well as those that prompt learner reflection or knowledge recall. If you have created a more interactive assessment, such as one that involves a number of drag and drop interactions or eLearning games, then this will take up more seat time. The human mind takes time to absorb information and commit it to long term memory. It cannot be rushed, so these basic human processes cannot be rushed if you want your eLearning course to offer real value for your learners.

5- Background of your learners.
The educational, professional, and cultural background of your audience also plays a part when calculating seat time in eLearning. For example, if you are working with adults who are new to the industry, then they are probably going to take more time to complete the eLearning course than learners who have been in the business for a number of years. This is why it’s important to research your audience beforehand and learn as much as you can about their learning needs and preferences. Conduct surveys to find out if they have ever taken an eLearning course before or if they know how to use eLearning interactive elements effectively.
In addition, you will want to analyze whether your audience has explored the topic in the past. For instance, if they are relatively new to the subject matter, then they will probably take more time to complete the eLearning course than those who may be well versed in the theories and ideas involved. They won’t be able to navigate through the simulations rapidly or answer the assessment questions as quickly, given that they don’t have any pre-existing knowledge to draw upon when completing the eLearning course.

Remember to account for these all-important factors when calculating the seat time in eLearning, so that you are able to more effectively gauge how long learners will need to get the most out of their eLearning experience.


This post was first published on eLearning Industry.