One major challenge is effectively scoping the project given time constraints. It’s easy for an e-learning project to grow very large in scope as there are endless possibilities for content, features, and functionality. Students need to properly analyze requirements and focus the project on core needs and priorities. Conducting user interviews, surveys, and reviewing similar projects can help identify what’s most important and where effort is best spent. The scope then needs to be continually evaluated and adjusted as work progresses to stay on track.
Another challenge is developing engaging and interactive content and activities for online learning. It’s not as simple as copying in-person class materials. Students need training and experience in instructional design principles for the online medium. This includes understanding how people learn online versus in a classroom. Technical skills are also required to bring content to life through multimedia, simulations, games, and collaborative features. Students may need guidance from instructors on effective e-learning content development.
Accessibility is also a significant hurdle. Students must consider accessibility requirements from the start to ensure their e-learning platform and content can be accessed and navigated by people with disabilities. This includes visual, auditory, physical, cognitive and neurological disabilities. Elements like video require transcripts, documents must have semantic structure, colors cannot cause visual impairment, and content must be operable without a mouse. Testing with assistive technologies is pivotal. Addressing accessibility avoids limiting who can use the project.
Another large challenge is the technical development of the full online learning environment. This includes deciding on programming languages, content management systems, databases, hosting, security, and integrations needed. While students may have development skills, creating a robust and high performance e-learning system from scratch within a limited timeframe can be difficult. It’s wise to leverage existing platforms and tools when possible to reduce technical burden and speed up the process.
User interface and user experience design is a continual challenge throughout development. Despite best efforts, early prototypes are rarely intuitive or pleasing to use. Gathering continuous feedback from target users as the design evolves is important. Usability testing helps uncover pain points, confusion, and bugs. Iterative design, where small revisions are made and retested, ensures the final product provides an engaging and productive learning experience for end users.
Project coordination and management for group capstone projects can also prove challenging. Clearly defining team member roles and responsibilities up front helps avoid confusion down the line. Setting and tracking milestones keeps the project moving forward according to schedule. Teams need to allocate time for regular communication through status reports, stand-ups, documentation, and decision making to stay aligned on goals and progress. Tools like Slack, Asana and GitHub facilitate teamwork over potentially long distances.
Budget constraints further complicate matters. While students have more flexibility than industry projects, costs still need to be minimized where possible. This may require compromising on “nice-to-have” features in favor of necessities. Open source resources can save money on software licensing. Careful planning of man-hours helps ensure tasks are completed efficiently within the available budget. Periodic budget check-ins provide opportunity for necessary scope adjustments.
Developing an e-learning capstone project involves overcoming significant pedagogical, technical, user experience and project management challenges. Thorough requirements analysis, user research, content design training, leveraging existing tools, iterative development practices, continuous feedback, clear coordination, and budget awareness can help students successfully navigate these obstacles and deliver a high quality online learning experience. Guidance from experienced instructors further aids capstone success and learning outcomes. With proper planning and execution, the rewards of completing such an ambitious project make the difficulties worthwhile.