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Are we too obsessed with numbers when it comes to eLearning? eLearning publishers will frequently state that a specific course is x minutes in duration, and x is often a very precise number like "37 minutes". I’m sure we’ve all wondered how they get to such an accurate measure of time for an activity that is highly dependent on an individual learner’s commitment, learning style, mood, technical abilities, and other factors. In fact, are we just not simply missing the real point about eLearning in even attempting to pose or answer the question?

Piece of String

There are of well derived mathematical models that have been developed to calculate eLearning course duration, see for example Mergener’s Formula (

0.9 X [-22.3+(0.00209*w)+(2.78*q)+(15.5*d)]

w = Number of words
q = Number of questions
d = Degree of difficulty (1-5)

Alternatively, you can do a more basic calculation based on the number of ‘slides’ or ‘pages’ in an eLearning module. Better still, you can use your previous students (or pilot students) experience to give you a range to the answer.

However, whichever way you do it, are we not missing the real point of eLearning? Self-study, of which eLearning is one example, has the major benefit of allowing you to study at your own pace i.e. a pace the fits with your personal learning style, current level of understanding and competence in the subject, and time constraints.

So is not the truest answer to the question always and importantly "it will be whatever it takes to successfully complete the course", and that’s it! eLearning allows the learner to review, revisit, refresh, relearn any element of the content as many times, and as often as they want and that’s a key benefit of the delivery model.

So let’s not get so hung up on how long it is and be concerned more about how effective it is for our learning community.

The Course-Source enrolment-based pricing model means that organisations can purchase eLearning cost-effectively, and, allows students to complete the course in an elapsed period of time that reflects to scope of the subject matter (typically three or six months). There is a learner benefit to putting an end date to their period of study and that is more about creating their motivation and drive to completion than the actual in-learning time it requires.