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Outsource Instructional Design to O2I?

ID specialists - the supply is on the rise

Let us look at the tasks involved in both the phases. The first phase requires people with special ID skills. A number of lead companies like Motorola, Maximise Learning and Tata Interactive Systems are hiring and finding qualified people with the required skills. Also, many quality educational institutions are offering courses in Instructional Design. For example, the Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning, Pune, India, is offering an online certificate course in Instructional Design. The numbers that enrolled in the first batch of the Symbiosis course, in December 2004, were much beyond everyone's expectations - over 300 joined the course! All these developments are indications that there is no dearth of highly motivated IDs in India, waiting to deliver.

Content development - talent aplenty

As for content, graphics and programming, India is already recognized as a hot bed of talent. For quite sometime India and other countries have been sought after by companies in the west for software development and BPO services. Looking at India for ID is but an extension of the same trend. If India has an English speaking population to take care of customer-care related services, it also has a very highly skilled English writing population. So India is capable of handling the content requirement for Instructional Design.

Graphic artists - many to tap

When it comes to the area of graphics, resource people well versed in one or all the tools used for Instructional Design, like Macromedia Flash MX, Macromedia Director MX, ToolBook, Macromedia Dreamweaver, XML, Java/VBScript, Macromedia Breeze, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, are easy to find.

Programmers - India an established source

As for programming, it is common knowledge that India has a number of highly skilled programmers. In fact, ignoring India as a potential hunting ground for good Instructional Design services would amount to bad business sense.

Other benefits to outsourcing Instructional Design:

  • Good probability of finding a subject matter expert in every field.
  • Lower developmental costs: A ball park figure that the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) gives is that for one hour of instruction of Computer-based training one needs around 200 hours of development. In India 200 hours of professional time would be priced at not more than US $4000 whereas it would cost two to three times the amount in the developed countries.
  • Substantial improvement in quality can be achieved, such as consistent instructional design and ongoing content maintenance, can also be cost-effectively derived through outsourcing.
  • Fast turnaround time, because of the availability of r ound-the-clock, multi-shift centers providing faster turnaround of skilled-labor intensive tasks such as technical writing, content development, media production and so on;

A word of caution:

As compared to technology & administrative functions, ID often requires extensive human interactions between instructional designers, subject matter experts and instructors to achieve efficiencies and quality programs, especially during development and delivery.  A thorough assessment of the need for personal interaction should be made before entering into any offshore outsourcing relationship.

Also, organizations must check the integrity of the processes to be employed to ensure confidentiality and security of data. Intellectual property laws vary among countries and should be carefully examined before entering into an offshore arrangement that requires protection of IP.

Policy Initiatives in the area of Intellectual Property:

The Government of India has set in motion the process of bringing accountability in the area of Intellectual Property Issues. Some policy initiatives in this direction are - the statement on Industrial policy - "39C- FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENTS ", which facilitates technical collaboration & licensing of technical know how & Intellectual Property Rights. Also, the "Designs Act, 2001" & "Information Technology Act, 2000" have detailed procedures and in-built enforcement mechanism to protect the IT and IP Rights of outsourcing entities.

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