30th October 2018 at 12:33 pm #68466
All the rage around E-learning and lifelong learning has me somewhat confused as a developer and I would appreciate your insights.
When a client asks one “to edit; update and align their current materials and design new assessment activities that better align to the unit standard / qualification outcomes”, expecting the completed set of materials within 2 weeks, what are is expected from me in terms of priorities?
As so often is the case, the materials have been purchased / commissioned a long time ago from developers who copied up to 100% of the content from the internet (even Wikipedia), inserted same into the learner guide following the exact order of the outcomes in the unit standard, and then merely changed the assessment criteria statements into questions. Years later and numerous complaints from facilitators, assessors and moderators later, someone like me is then commissioned to “fix” the content and design better formative and summative assessment activities.
1. Am I supposed to be responsible to remove the plagiarised materials?
2. Am I expected to rewrite the content to my best knowledge within the tight deadlines – but still be paid R4-5000 for 4 integrated unit standards?
I am sure that someone will feel that a developer must only write / design content that they are specialists in, but then when or how will we be able to live or learn if we don’t say “yes” to almost every new and different request?
Development is a hard, lonely and often thankless job, and even though I always deliver my best, it’s often not enough.
1st November 2018 at 6:04 am #68483
You’re clearly feeling quite despondent! I agree that some of the material that has been sold as unit standard aligned is quite shocking – and the client seems to have been unable to recognise the poor quality. I also find that the client can seldom understand just how time-consuming materials development can be – including, and possibly even especially re-writing existing material. My suggestion to you is to quote realistically on hours and your rate per hour – and don’t take the work if you’ll effectively be working for R100 per hour!!
5th November 2018 at 5:53 pm #68549
Specialising in the content you are developing is a bonus, but not a necessity. So far, I haven’t developed any learning material for any client, simply because they can’t really afford a good developed learning material. Because of those scoundrels that steal people’s learning material, put their templates and sell them cheap, you and I are kept out of a job. Now I am prepared to sell my own learning material to make some money. I have received learning material from a SETA, and it is horrible. My jaw dropped when I saw what I was given by the SETA because it was just garbage. I couldn’t understand how the SETA issued these materials to be used for training. The SETA as well as whoever ripped them off do not know what any of the guides are or what they look like. I had to develop my own all over again. Just when I thought I would have saved a lot of time in development, I had to dive in and start afresh.
If they can’t appreciate the amount of work you have to put in to fix or redevelop their learning material and pay you accordingly, then don’t take the job. They were ripped off already, and you are there to guide them and show them the right way to do it. If you do not agree, then leave. They will find themselves in another rut as they go about looking for “cheap” developers. I think we all know that “cheap” developers have never developed anything in their lives.
Keep the Content Developrs’ flag flying high.
5th November 2018 at 7:04 pm #68550
Thank you for your input Jill and Simphiwe. To your point Simphiwe, I think it’s an open secret that the SETA’s (and by extention the officials who evaluate training providers regionally) are not skilled enough to critically evaluate learning programme structure, content and assessment materials. I have pointed this out to ETDP and Services, suggesting that they contract qualified and experienced designers and developers of learning materials in all their regional offices who will be reposnsible for the validation of materials purchased by the SDP’s falling under their purview before the SDP hands over final payment for purchased materials, but they seem to not want to do that.
I would still like to see that happen in my lifetime, but I suppose it’s asking too much.
8th November 2018 at 10:01 pm #68576
Material development is not like rinsing a cup of tea under the tap and I’m quite certain you know that. Secondly, you place your reputation at stake the minute you decide designing and developing material.
Editing on its own has a fee and updating and aligning (breaking down the whole unit standard) to the material that has no version is another story. It is as good as developing material from scratch and R4-5000 becomes an insult. Quality and cheap material do not co-exist in one sentence.
I was once exposed to using cheap material as a freelance facilitator, hired by another company. Fortunately for me, I was familiar with the subject and I had to tailor my presentation in accordance with the unit standard outcomes as they were not covered in the learner guide I was issued with. The language used was awful(vulgar) and with a lot of plagiarism.The information content copied dated 4 to 5 years back. I was caught in between the delegates because it created an impression that I developed the material.
Your position is a catch 22 situation in the sense that any modification you become involved with will not nullify plagiarism if you risk editing and updating the material. Secondly, you are the only person having knowledge of tight deadlines which we are not aware of and therefore, use your expertise to arrive at a decision of either entertaining their request or chicken out, based on what they are prepared to give you. This does not come cheap. Any employer who is looking on his/her ROI will think twice before purchasing such material.
It will be a tough call to make from your part. That’s my story and wish you luck in your endeavour.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by Zebilon Mmekwa.
9th November 2018 at 6:37 am #68578
Zebilon your input is appreciated. I too have been in the same position when facilitate the most atrociously dated and incorrect materials that I also had to make a 180 degree course correction. Despite the feedback I gave them and offer to fix up the materials, I was told “thanks but no thanks.” This is what ‘developers’ and providers forget, that the facilitator (usually a contractor) is the one who represents the materials and is held responsible (by the learners) for it.
Another company I facilitated for when I was asked to develop a qualification for them, cancelled the contract because I couldn’t bring myself to give them a copy of the type of work they’d become used to. I tried my best to bring them around, but nada! I was asked not to reinvent the wheel, but what they refused to see was that their wheel was square.
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