Monday, December 11, 2006

Seat Time for an Elearning Course

This post is in response to a request from elearningtyro. I hope you find it useful.

What is seat time?
Seat time is variously described as:

* Amount to time a learner spends to read through each page within the course (Does that include all the related tools and supplementary document? Does the learner need to read every glossary term? What if the learner already knows the terms?)
* Amount of time taken by a learner to click every link within the course (What if the learner clicks the link but does not read it? )
* Amount of time a learner takes to complete the course

How is it calculated?
One of the ways I know (If you know any other, please feel free to leave a comment):
A sample from the target audience is selected to complete the course. The time taken by each is recorded. Seat time is the percentile time that approximately 80 percent of the learners take to complete the course.

When was it used?
In early elearning days, seat time was taken as a metric to charge the clients. However, there were some issues in using this approach. For one, different learners have different learning speeds. Additionally, complex interactions take longer to produce and need more resources even though it takes lesser time to read or review these sections. For example, simulations or game-based learning. Finally, usage of multimedia for example, sound, video animation make elearning more expensive to produce. As a result, today most elearning companies charge their clients on the effort taken to develop the course or curriculum rather than the seat time. Different companies have different methods and standards to calculate this effort.

Related link


Anonymous said...

Hi Aradhana,

I am one of the frequent visitors of your blog (
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and keep posting useful information on e-learning.

By the way, I have been working as an Instructional Designer in Chennai. I need better clarification for calculating the seat time of a course.How to calculate the seat time of a course? Please share your knowledge on the same.


Aradhana said...

Thank you for visiting My Learning Blog! I am happy that you find the posts useful. I have dedicated this new post to your question. Please leave me a comment if I have missed out any information that you might be expecting.

I have used your email alias (elearningtyro) to refer you since I wasn't sure if you wanted me to use your name or not in the post.


Anonymous said...

Thanks a ton Aradhana. You have placed an end period for all my queries for claculating the seat time!

elearning tyro.

Anonymous said...

Hi Aradhana
I am a friend and college of elearning tyro. I am working as an instructional designer and training manager for a while.
These are some of the questions, which I have for you....
1. How could we effectively train an ID?
2. What could be the ways that learning can be made enhanced?

Please share your knowledge on these aspects.

Aradhana said...

Thank you for your question. I am currently stretched for time. I will get back to your question very soon. Till then...

Cheers and keep learning!

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Marisa Keramida said...

Thanks for this post. As an instructional designer for eLearning I’m very much interested in the opinion of others about the seat time issue. I’ve read another article recently on the same topic that mentions some excellent factors that may influence seat time for a particular eLearning course such as the complexity of subject matter, type of screen (multimedia or text), degree of user interaction per screen, time allowed for critical thinking, whether content can be skipped or not, among others. I provide the link as a reference to those interested:

I agree with you that different learners have different learning speeds. With respect to the 80% estimate you mention in order to calculate seat time for the eLearning course is it something you have confirmed from practical experience? Can you provide any documentation on this? I would be very much interested in reading more on this.

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