“Agile” is a term every e-learning developer has heard (unless they’re living under a rock!). But what does it mean exactly? Put simply, Agile is a way of managing the design process to make it flexible and interactive. The main principles of the Agile methodology are encouraging communication between all parties involved, an openness to evolving requirements, and being able to provide working deliverables at regular intervals.

The term itself was coined in the early 2000s by software developers who were looking for an updated development method. They felt the processes long established by the manufacturing industry were too linear, rigid, and inflexible. Something fresh was needed for the burgeoning software industry. Thus, Agile was born. So, how can we apply it to the instructional design process and e-learning development? Here are a few ways you can do just that!

Encourage Communication Between Teams

Communication and collaboration between the stakeholders involved in a project is a critical component of the Agile methodology. In order for this to happen, it’s critical to have strong buy-in from those involved, or else they won’t want to take the time to meet and communicate. One way you can encourage this communication is by opening up a variety of channels (email, telephone, etc.) and by having regular face-to-face meetings. Also, try to make sure you bring all the appropriate people into your project. Are you developing a new e-learning program for the sales team? In addition to working with an SME (Subject Matter Expert), consider bringing on board a regular sales team employee to get their insights and opinions on the project as it unfolds. They might have a point of view or piece of information that will help your project be a success.

Incorporate More Review Checkpoints

One of the cornerstones of the Agile method is the ability to handle changing requirements in a project as they come up. This can only happen if you meet regularly and provide your client/customer with the opportunity to provide this important feedback. When you set up a project plan, incorporate as many review checkpoints as you can, and as early on as possible. If you do this, you should be able to spot problems or potential required changes earlier in the process and minimize the amount of re-work or correction passes. Check out this article for tips on optimizing your course review process. 

Develop Small Chunks

Since you’ve incorporated more review checkpoints throughout the design process, you’re probably going to be building out smaller chunks of your course at a time. This is a good way to live up to another key principle of the Agile method: being able to provide a functioning deliverable! Instead of developing the entire course and sharing it all at once, consider developing smaller chunks (one lesson or module, for example) that can be vetted and shared as they are created. Smaller chunks means you can also see earlier on how your learners and stakeholders are reacting to what you’ve created, allowing you to make adjustments for future pieces as needed.

These are just three simple ways you can incorporate the principles of Agile into your e-learning design. Interested in adopting a more Agile-friendly e-learning creation workflow? Check out this article on the SAM model, an Agile variation of the classic ADDIE instructional design method. Have you incorporated any Agile methodologies into your workflow? If you have, let me know how in the comments below!

Follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.