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Estimating Time for Rebuilding an Existing Course Library with Captivate

rebuild3In this article, I will share with you how I determined how many hours it would take me to re-build an existing catalog of courses in Captivate and show you examples of documents I created to assist me in the process. This process may assist you in the next year or two as we prepare for potential course re-development opportunities due to the slow but eventual demise of the Flash player.

Recently I was asked to estimate how long it would take to re-build five e-Learning courses created with another software program in Captivate. These text-only (no audio) courses were built more than five years ago with a lesser known authoring tool, and the finished products were generated in Flash.

With this project, we want to accomplish several things:

  1. Terminate our year-to-year contract with that other tool.
  2. Tap into the audio path into the brain by replacing large blocks of onscreen text with voiceover narration.
  3. Improve the capacity of these courses to work well with within our learning management system.
  4. Review the content to ensure it is fresh, and provide updates where needed.
  5. Create them so that they can be delivered via mobile devices.
  6. Publish them in HTML5 rather than swf output.

That is the task. And I was asked to calculate how many hours it would take for the entire project (all five courses).

The first thing I did was review each existing course screen-by-screen in its current format. I developed a document on which I listed the slide number, screen title, type of slide (static vs. interactive), any type of interaction, and any external links that were on the screen. Here’s an example. This particular course contained 24 screens; the first 11 are listed here (I’ve redacted some of the screen titles).


Next, I listed the total count of each type of slide: title, instructional, practice, knowledge check, and course summary. Knowing that I am increasing interactivity and adding audio, I allowed for 3 development hours per screen, regardless of type. This way, I did not have to calculate hours by screen type, knowing that it would take less time for static screens and more time for screens with complex interactions. Those were the hours I anticipated for just course development. This estimate also includes instructional design hours because while were using the existing course as a basis for new courses, we decided re-look at how the courses were originally designed and see if we could make improvements. IMPORTANT NOTE: I used the existing course as a guide. My intent is to rebuild this course from the design level up. It is not to take a course that was already developed and then “duplicate” every slide and interaction in Captivate.

I then had to factor in content review and involvement of SMEs. If I were a training vendor, I would not likely not need to factor those hours into my estimate. But, since I am a member of an organization’s internal training department, I must give that due consideration. While I was able to locate a primary subject-matter expert for each course, I know that several SME’s will review it and make recommendations for change. To allow for this, I doubled my estimate.


Here’s what I came up with. I calculated this number for each of the five courses, then simply totaled those numbers. Course re-development begins this month and our target completion date is in early 2018 when the contract for that other software product expires.

I hope these tables and calculations help you in similar undertakings. Obviously, you may decide to adjust the number of hours based on your own client or organizational requirements, but you may still find the tables helpful as you move forward on your own projects.

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