Software: Buyer Beware

One of the problems with e-learning is that having a finished software module running smoothly on your LMS doesn’t guarantee that you can update it, according to Diane Valenti, the president of Applied Performance Solutions.

“This isn’t a problem assuming you have a good relationship with the original vendor and they are still around,” Valenti says. “But if you want to ensure maximum protection of your e-learning investment, there are a few things you can do.”

1) Request that the vendor program the module so anyone with the right skills and experience can make updates. Then, put this requirement in writing.

2) Make sure you ask for and get the source files at the end of the project. Then, store them on your server where they won’t be deleted and can be easily located

3) Make sure the vendor is using standard tools such as Flash, Flash ActionScript 2, or Flash ActionScript 3. If a vendor is using a less popular tool, such as Director, you may have difficulty finding developers to make revisions.

4) Get contact information for the programmer who is writing the code.

5) Request that the programmer use “self-commenting” code. This will reduce the time it takes for a new programmer to figure out how the code works.

6) If the programmer plans to use components, make sure that you are 100% sold on all functionality in the module before you accept the final product.

7) Finally, consider hiring a programmer who is not affiliated with the vendor to poke around the code when the vendor delivers the prototype. This is similar to asking your mechanic to inspect a used car you are thinking about buying.

One of the problems with e-learning is that having a finished software module running smoothly on your LMS doesn’t guarantee that you can update it, according to Diane Valenti, the president of Applied Performance Solutions.

“This isn’t a problem assuming you have a good relationship with the original vendor and they are still around,” Valenti says. “But if you want to ensure maximum protection of your e-learning investment, there are a few things you can do.”

1) Request that the vendor program the module so anyone with the right skills and experience can make updates. Then, put this requirement in writing.

2) Make sure you ask for and get the source files at the end of the project. Then, store them on your server where they won’t be deleted and can be easily located

3) Make sure the vendor is using standard tools such as Flash, Flash ActionScript 2, or Flash ActionScript 3. If a vendor is using a less popular tool, such as Director, you may have difficulty finding developers to make revisions.

4) Get contact information for the programmer who is writing the code.

5) Request that the programmer use “self-commenting” code. This will reduce the time it takes for a new programmer to figure out how the code works.

6) If the programmer plans to use components, make sure that you are 100% sold on all functionality in the module before you accept the final product.

7) Finally, consider hiring a programmer who is not affiliated with the vendor to poke around the code when the vendor delivers the prototype. This is similar to asking your mechanic to inspect a used car you are thinking about buying.

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