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How to Build Agility into your Learning Design

May 24, 2013

Anyone who has attempted some form of learning design project will know that the goalposts have an annoying habit of moving. The objective that you set out initially to meet might evolve or even change cogoalpostsmpletely. This means that traditional approaches to learning design and development can struggle to adapt the design and keep pace with continually evolving requirements. They are simply not agile enough.

Instead quicker, more iterative approaches to design are needed which enable the designer to change and test the design very swiftly. Design tools need to be collaborative so that designers and customers can work at the same time. Designers need to be able to think on their feet, generate, mock-ups and test workable solutions quicker than ever. So, how do you go about doing this?

Firstly, in the design phase of your project – anything goes. Any idea, no matter how outlandish or left-field is given consideration. An idea that at first might seem too ‘out there’, can trigger another thought process that leads to some truly transformative functionality being designed into the product.

Secondly, use collaborative tools like Google Drive, Basecamp and Mockflow to document, manage and design the product. At the start of the project get your customer on board with your design process and their vital part in it. Encourage collaborative, iterative working.

Thirdly, don’t get disheartened if your design or prototype gets some harsh feedback from users. Firstly investigate the comments more fully and get to the heart of the issue. Then thank your lucky stars that you identified this issue so early in the project – you’ve just saved a load of budget and time – hooray!

Taking an agile approach to design does require more time with your customer and end users. Fortunately, most will understand that for you to design something that closely meets their needs, they need to provide a lot of input. If they can’t or won’t do this, then you’re playing darts in the dark, with little or no chance of hitting the bull’s eye.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2013 12:22 pm

    Rob, I like your idea of agile learning design. Your three steps clearly show that engagement and an iterative approach are essential for success. I would add this though in step three, choose your beta testing group carefully. Trial with users more likely to be positive at first, tweak it and then extend it to those who may be more hostile. It’s an easier and less painful way to take on feedback.

    • June 3, 2013 3:36 pm

      Hi Ara. I like your suggestion, though I am a fan of finding your harshest critics and talking to them. Sometimes people are just too polite to criticise and, whilst it can be a painful experience, a harsh critic might highlight an issue that had been bugging a lot of people, but not enough for them to mention it. The challenge is a customer typically wants to avoid any harsh criticism because they see it as a failing in the design or project. I see honest and open user testing as a vital part of the design process.

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