Finding eLearning Contractors: A Step-by-Step Guide

8 min

eLearning contractors are helping to bridge talent gaps and address urgent demand in the sector. According to a study conducted by LinkedIn, contracting jobs throughout the tech sector are on the rise—and the eLearning industry is no stranger to this growth. 

Whilst only 5.7% of listings on the site were temporary or interim roles in 2020, LinkedIn’s analysts have seen a dramatic rise in the number of contract jobs as of the end of 2022, with almost 20% of tech-forward listings fulfilling some form of contract services function. 

In this guide, we’ll offer a step-by-step process for organisations looking to engage in contract hiring. We’ll see how you can define the scope and needs of your project to ensure that you’re able to effectively search for contractors. Alongside this, we’ll also cover how you can conduct interviews with contractors, noting anything you should keep in mind during the evaluation process. 

Defining the Scope and Needs of Your eLearning Project

Before utilising eLearning contractors' services, it’s important to understand precisely why you’re utilising them. Defining the scope and needs of your digital education projects will help to ensure that those filling your contract jobs have a clear set of goals and deliverables to achieve. 

As a result, our first section focuses closely on the five key steps to ensuring that you mitigate the risk of feature creep, runaway timelines, and failing to meet objectives with your digital education project. 

1. Identify the Objectives and Goals of Your eLearning Project

The first crucial step in preparing for contract services is to identify the objectives and goals of your eLearning project. At least initially, ensuring a successful relationship with eLearning contractors begins by reflecting on your target audience and your own organisation. 

What does this target audience need? A vital question to ask when identifying your goals and objectives, your answer can come from a range of approaches: surveys, interviews, analytics based on previous data collected, and focus groups are all effective at allowing you to understand the learning, accessibility, and long-term expectations of your users. 

Once you’ve understood these needs, you can clearly demarcate your project's scope—in short, specifying what will and won’t be included and any constraints and roadblocks that stand in the way of you—and those providing contract services to you—achieving success. 

Alongside this, you’ll be able to define your organisation’s goals—aside from the educational goals that you want learners and users of your product to achieve—whether they’re going to be measured in terms of the number of signups you receive, your market penetration, or simply according to customer satisfaction.

2. Carry Out a Needs Assessment

Somewhat covered in our first step, carrying out a needs assessment is vital to understanding how to get the best out of your professional relationship with eLearning contractors. 

As part of this assessment, you will need to gain clarity on what resources your teams—as well as your customers and subject matter experts—will require to reach each project milestone outlined during the identification of objectives and goals. 

This can give you an opportunity to ensure that your digital education experiences are tailored to the needs of users and developers early in the project, saving time by minimising the amount of feedback you’ll receive from clients and reducing the risk of having to retrofit features that were missed in earlier project stages. 

Your needs assessment should be open and transparent, with a broad, inclusive, and diverse audience discussing the findings. This will allow you to understand whether you’ve covered all bases, from the data needs of educators looking to produce end-of-semester reports to the accessibility requirements of learners.

3. Define Your Learning and Evaluation Outcomes

Once you’ve got a clearer idea of the needs of your staff, users, and all other external and internal stakeholders that will take part in some phase of your project, you can then begin to outline the learning outcomes and metrics which will allow educators to measure attainment through the use of your product. 

You need to ensure that the learning and evaluation outcomes of your digital education experiences are able to match the needs of students and learners in the environment it’s likely to be used. This could be in secondary, post-secondary, higher education, the corporate setting, or somewhere else.  

Conducting this exercise during the planning phase is crucial to understanding whether you’ll offer summative or formative assessment or some blend of the two. As a meta-analysis of online learning by the US Department of Education has highlighted, eLearning is just as effective at imparting knowledge as traditional approaches, but it’s crucial to effectively design and deliver the course to ensure that key learning outcomes are met.

4. Identify Your Content and Technology Requirements

A crucial fourth step in ensuring you get the most from your relationship with eLearning contractors, identifying your digital education project's content and technology requirements will enable you to define the scope and deliverables that subject matter experts, designers, and developers will work towards. 

This stage will effectively allow you to determine that your technology is solving a real-world need within the educational or corporate environment, ensuring that learning management systems, authoring tools, and mobile accessibility are in place to allow organisations to adopt and scale their use of your virtual learning environment. 

When it comes to identifying the content requirements of your product or service, it’s important to consider the format and structure that your subject matter experts will employ to guarantee an engaging and educational experience for students. Whether you’re delivering text, images, audio, and video, or interactive activities, simulations, and quizzes, it’s important that it’s well-paced, easily navigated, and legible for the level of study. 

Aligning content and technology requirements with the needs of students and educators in the environment which you’re developing your product for will help to ensure that your contract jobs remain focused, employ best practices for eLearning design and development, and provide you with high-quality deliverables with little to no need for revision. 

5. Develop a Project Budget and Timeline

Crucial to defining the scope and needs of your eLearning project, a timeline and budget will allow you to understand the costs of utilising a provider of contract services alongside the additional expenses of in-house personnel and resources required to deliver your project to a high quality. 

This budget should include the costs of all areas required to get your project into its most useable and user-friendly state, including: 

  • Content development
  • Technology and software requirements
  • Administration
  • Troubleshooting
  • Ensuring accessibility and regular testing

By carrying out a budgeting and timelining activity, you’ll be able to give your funders, as well as internal and external stakeholders, the confidence that your digital education project is feasible, realistic, and aligned with their expectations, and also that you’ve accounted for potential contingencies which may risk you not meeting your deadlines or running over your allocated budget. 

Failing to define your objectives can lead to an ineffective and inefficient utilisation of resources and staff time, with employees pulling in different directions due to a lack of clear targets. 

By identifying the needs and scope of your eLearning project at an early stage, you’ll be better positioned to leverage the unique skills of those providing contract services. This will ensure that you’re fostering a collaborative environment where every employee, whether permanent or interim, can contribute their best work, communicate successfully with their colleagues, and raise any risks or roadblocks to ensure that you remain within budget and meet key stakeholders’ needs.

If you’re interested in learning more about how eLearning contractors can help hone your digital education experiences, see our recent guide on The Rise of eLearning Gamification in Higher Education for a deep dive into an exciting facet of the sector.

Searching for eLearning Contractors

Now that we’ve understood why defining the scope and goals of your digital education project is crucial, we can look closely at how to effectively search for and connect with eLearning contractors. 

By searching for eLearning contractors in the right way, you can avoid any ambiguity in your relationship with a provider of contract workers, prepare properly for the negotiation phase, and focus closely on collaboration and creating value for all parties involved in the contract hiring equation. 

Connect with a Contract Services or Contract Hiring Provider

It’s important to note that those organisations looking to engage in contract hiring will often do best to partner with a provider of contract services, many of whom will possess an extensive network of interim talent at all levels of seniority. This enables you to quickly source and onboard talent in all areas of digital education, from project management to subject matter expertise and everything in between. 

This latter point is especially true given the rush for talent within the sector. 

The eLearning market grew to a global value of £328bn in 2022, and with analysts predicting a 14% compound annual growth rate to 2032—alongside a wider shift towards personalised learning and development in everything from the educational to the private sector—it’ll likely be increasingly difficult to connect with the best candidates. 

Check Out a Contractor’s Portfolio, Reviews, and Testimonials

When looking at eLearning contractors, you should work closely with your talent partner to ensure that you see examples of their previous work, which can give you a much clearer example of what skills and experience they will bring to the table. 

Since you’ve already got a well-defined project that is achievable according to the scope you established in the first phase of this exercise, you’ll be able to read testimonials and reviews of each candidate’s ability and work quality, which will ensure that you’re bridging the skill and resource gaps you’ve recognised before you begin hiring for contract services. 

By reading a combination of critical and positive reviews of contractors, you’ll be able to form a balanced picture of their competencies and whether they meet the requirements you must fulfil to ensure successful project delivery.

Narrow Down Your Shortlist

After reviewing the portfolios, reviews, testimonials, and recommendations of a shortlist of eLearning contractors, you’ll likely need to narrow down the number of candidates to ensure that the interview and evaluation process runs smoothly. 

Luckily, by clearly establishing your project scope in collaboration with relevant internal and external stakeholders, you’ll have a good idea of the necessary and additional skills you’d like to take advantage of to meet your objectives and key results. 

Using a scoring system can make this process objective, allowing you to evaluate each candidate based on the quality of the work and application materials they’ve submitted, ensuring that only those eLearning contractors that match your needs make it through to the interview phase. 

Negotiate Terms with the Provider Before Hiring eLearning Contractors

A crucial step in ensuring that your relationship with a provider of contract services is mutually beneficial, your organisation should always be clear on the terms of engagement—with recourse to the scope and objectives of your digital education project—which will also help to avoid any future disputes around intellectual property, deliverables, or timescales. 

At this stage, you will also be able to establish payment terms and schedules, enabling you to budget more effectively or return to re-scope and outline the project again so it meets your financial expectations. 

By carrying out your due diligence in this phase of the contract hiring exercise, you’ll be able to ensure a termination clause within your relationship with the contract services provider, enabling you to take action if the contractor fails to meet your expectations or the project’s requirements. 

By paying close attention to the details when you’re searching for eLearning contractors, you can get the best deal for all parties and ensure that any concerns you have are addressed before you lock in your relationship with a contract hiring provider. 

If you’re looking to ensure that the candidates delivering your contract services are meeting the agreed-upon standards you’ve established in your scoping and outlining exercise, it’s crucial that these are all made clear during the search and shortlisting phase, which will enable a provider of eLearning contractors to ensure that they’re offering the support you need. 

Conducting Interviews During Contract Hiring

So, we now understand how to get the most out of your relationship with a provider of contract hiring services—the question that remains is, how do we effectively interview a contractor to ensure that they’re the perfect fit for the role? 

Whilst the shortlisting exercises we covered in the last section will help you to narrow down your collection of interviewees, you’ll still want to ensure that you are asking targeted, relevant questions that enable candidates to offer concise, structured responses which you can quickly evaluate and score. 

Depending on the function that you’re utilising eLearning contractors for, you can consider some or all of the following questions as a guide to getting the best answers from potential employees: 

1. How have you expanded your understanding of eLearning technologies through past placements? 

Through a candidate’s answer to this question, you can gain a better idea of not only their competencies but how constructively they’re able to reflect on the challenges they’ve encountered within the digital education environment and the steps they took to overcome them. 

eLearning contractors are typically highly motivated, professional individuals, so gaining an insight into their commitment to their personal and professional development can help you understand whether they’ll be a good fit for your organisation and whether they’re able to meet your objectives.

2. What tools and techniques do you use to create engaging, interactive, and enriching virtual learning experiences?

This question can offer your organisation insight into whether the candidate you’re interviewing can leverage the latest tools and techniques to create the multimedia content required to produce the best learning outcomes for students and provide educational experiences for all according to accessibility best practices. 

Through their answer to this question, you can also better understand an eLearning contractor’s professional relationship with your niche industry. If you’re seeking a sector specialist, a more generalist answer to this question, which doesn’t drop the names of the key technologies used within it, could highlight an unfamiliarity which will result in a poor fit. 

3. Can you walk me through your approach to the eLearning design process?

An eLearning contractor’s answer to this question can give you an opportunity to clarify whether they’ll not only be a good cultural fit for your organisation but also if they’ll be able to hit the ground running and create courses that meet the needs of your stakeholders, learners, and educators. 

You’ll also get a good idea of the candidate’s commercial sense through their answer to this question, offering you the ability to see if they’ll be able to collaborate with your subject matter experts, other colleagues, and clients to produce an effective product that meets the scope within the deadlines established at the outset.

This list is, of course, not intended to be exhaustive but to offer you a guide on potential avenues to take when interviewing as part of your contract hiring exercise—and other questions will naturally arise based on the function that you’d like the eLearning contractors you’re evaluating to fulfil. 

Key Takeaways

Finding and engaging eLearning contractors is a strong strategic move for organisations seeking to meet the demands of this rapidly growing industry. To ensure a successful partnership, it’s imperative to follow our well-defined, step-by-step process. 

Defining the scope and needs of your eLearning project is the foundational step. Identifying objectives, carrying out an assessment of needs, clarifying learning outcomes, and specifying content and technology requirements will help you to set attainable, measurable goals and expectations. Developing your budget and timeline is equally critical to this process, ensuring project feasibility and that your aims align with internal and external stakeholders’ needs. 

When searching for contractors, partnering with contract services or contract hiring providers can offer you access to an increasingly diverse and extensive talent pool. Carefully reviewing portfolios, testimonials, and reviews of candidates’ prior work will help in shortlisting candidates that match your needs. 

Conducting interviews is the penultimate step in the contract hiring equation—before getting the contractor onboard and down to work. Ensuring that you’ve prepared targeted, relevant questions can reveal candidates’ competencies and their cultural compatibility with your organisation—so make sure to question their understanding of eLearning technologies, the tools they use to create engaging learning experiences, and their approach to designing for audiences within your specific niche. 

In the dynamic eLearning landscape, effective contract hiring is not just about filling positions but fostering collaborative environments where your contractors and permanent employees can all contribute their best work. By following these steps, organisations can make informed, tactical decisions, ensuring successful project outcomes which meet the evolving needs of educators, learners, and professionals alike. 

Experts in Sourcing eLearning Contractors

The specialist consultants at Instinct Resourcing have been supporting eLearning contractors for over a decade. Possessing the time-served expertise your institution requires, we connect you with experts in design, development, coordination, project management, and more, giving you the confidence to know that your contract jobs are staffed by the talent you need to succeed. 

Contact us today for a discussion of your requirements. 

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