Instructional Design

Design Inception: How Iterative Development Can Perfect Your Program

There’s something to be said for the ability to learn from your own mistakes, and that’s where iterative development comes into play. Employing iterative development means constantly learning from your learners and fine-tuning your module until it’s nearly perfect. And, since there’s always a fresh set of eyes experiencing your program, there’s always something to learn, adjust and develop as you go. By understanding more about the benefits of iterative development, you’ll see how inception-style design can help create a better-rounded, more inclusive eLearning program.

Starting With an Objective

Before you deploy iterative development as part of the design process, you first need to understand the cycle of iteration. It might seem never-ending, but it will help get you closer to your end goal.

First, you need to start with an objective in mind. Without a clear objective or goal, you don’t have a picture of what you’re working toward through the design process. Say you want to improve learner retention rates, for example. That goal will remain constant through all cycles of iteration to get to as close to perfect as possible.

Design & Test

Then, it’s onto the design process, where you try and fulfill your objective. Luckily, those who utilize iterative development know that it’s almost impossible to perfect the design on the first pass. That’s where testing comes in: You allow learners, colleagues and other parties to test your design in a real-world setting. Their feedback then becomes the foundation for your next shot at development, so that each incarnation of the module becomes better and better.

Built-In Analytics

With iterative development, your design is only as good as your feedback. And, since humans can be subjective, built-in program analytics can be an effective tool in helping you decide how to improve your design.

Say you have a storytelling portion of the program, which is followed by a short quiz. If users are consistently failing the quiz – as evidenced by in-program analytics – you might decide that a role-playing module is more effective than storytelling. Built-in analytics are especially great because they lack a bias and give it to you straight: No opinions or personal qualms about it.

eLearner Surveys

Another way to increase eLearning feedback for your next iteration is to ask learners themselves what they thought of the module or program. While you will get some bias, remember that ultimately, you’re going back to the drawing board because you want to create the best module for the learner. It pays to get some knee-jerk reactions to the material directly after the learner experiences the module: You’ll know what they liked, what they didn’t like and how to best improve the module on your next pass.

Iterative development might sound time-consuming, but it’s actually an effective way to fine-tune your program so that it’s near perfect. Each time you develop, test and analyze, you’ll be putting yourself closer to the ideal eLearning module.