Folder Structure for Your E-Learning Files

Have you ever been in someone else’s kitchen and had to look in every single drawer before you finally found the forks?  Do you ever look all over for your sunglasses and then realize they are on top of your head?  Be honest—I know it isn’t just me!  Well, the same thing can happen with your e-learning files.  In one course I’m working on, I have more edited audio files for one module than I have cutting boards—and I have a LOT of cutting boards.

How can I quickly find what I want when I want it?  How can I find it quickly if I need to go back a year later when it is time to update the course?  How can I help out another team member on a deadline if I can’t find any of the files I need to do the work?  The answer to all of these questions is to have a logical, consistent file structure for your projects.

About two years ago we set out to create a standard structure, and it has made a huge difference.  It took some discussions and experimenting to figure out what works best.  But it’s nice to know that anyone can find what they need.  Here’s our structure.

FileStructure

Here’s one other tip.  Make it exceedingly clear which version of each file is the “live” version.  When someone who has not been involved in a project goes into a folder, I want that person to be 100% sure which file to use.  One trap you want to avoid is putting “final” or “current” or “live” or “use this one” in the title.  Why? Because those are temporary designations.  I’ve been on some projects where the live version of the storyboards was called xxx_ Final5.  Not helpful!  If I stumbled across xxx_Final, I’d have every reason to believe I’d found what I wanted, not knowing to look for the 5th version of final.  Instead, designate things as “old.”  While “current” or “final” might change and no longer be current or final, “old” usually stays old. (Although as someone who is having to hold ingredient labels farther and farther away to read them, I’m a bit sensitive to that word right now!)  Our folders for storyboard and authoring tool folders have a folder called “Old Drafts” in them.  The main folder should only have one file in them—the most current.  The rest should be in “Old Drafts.”

How do you structure your files?  What’s working?  What’s not?

Diane Elkins
Diane Elkins leads Artisan E-Learning, a custom eLearning development company specializing in the use of rapid- development tools. Diane has been in the eLearning industry since 2001, speaks regularly at national conferences about eLearning, and is co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

2 Responses to “Folder Structure for Your E-Learning Files

  • Date every file in the filename: xxx.date.extension. Choose your date format carefully and it will line up chronologically and effortlessly in the file: 20130813.

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