What is Agile Learning Design?

We’re always exploring different learning and design theories here at eLeaP, in an effort to better help our users engage their employees in training and maximize its value.

Exploring Agile Learning Design

One concept worth exploring is Agile Learning Design or ALD. Agile Learning design refers to content where the key considerations are flexibility, collaboration, and speed. The end-goal of ALD is having courses that are highly relevant but also inexpensive.

This concept originated in the general software world, where the goal has consistently been speed and efficiency for the lowest possible cost. Agile actually stands for the following:

  • Align
  • Get Set
  • Iterate and implement
  • Leverage
  • Evaluate

Agile design is important in today’s fast-paced, globalized marketplace where companies are constantly looking for ways to help their employees become more proficient more quickly. Learning also must be flexible and easily adaptable, which are main features of ALD.

Agile learning incorporates elements of feedback so that the training experience can be honed, refined and streamlined over time.

Advantages of ALD

While there are many, below are some of the key reasons many businesses are embracing this framework to train employees:

  • Since flexibility is central to ALD, it’s an inherently advantageous design structure. Companies need to embrace change and adaptability in e-Learning and training to best meet the needs of their workforce, and that need is built into the foundation of Agile design. When you embrace ALD, you’re also embracing fluidity in your employee training so it can easily be adapted to whatever employee or business need may arise.
  • Feedback is also important here. We’ll cover the process of Agile design a bit later in this post, but understanding the critical role of feedback also lets you see a significant advantage of this approach. There is collaboration and working together that go into course design, which can help employers better tailor training to the needs and preferences of employees.
  • Agile design is a perfect, natural fit with e-Learning, because an essential element is rapid development, meaning changes are made at the moment when needed. e-Learning is the ideal training format to support the need for rapid changes. You can keep large chunks of existing work, saving time, but then make whatever alterations are necessary as you go.
  • Functionality and ease-of-use are often seen at a high level with Agile design, because after each change or update, extensive testing is part of the equation. This helps make the user’s experience seamless, which can promote employee engagement in training.

Tips to Implement Agile Design

Work with Your Audience or Client

There are two areas to focus on here. The first assumes you’re creating e-Learning strictly for internal employee training purposes. In this instance your employees are very important to include throughout the design process, not just at the beginning and the end.

It’s important to be in contact and receive feedback, at least from some key employees, through every step of course production. This is perhaps one of the most critical elements of ALD.

If you’re designing e-Learning for an outside client, this involvement naturally shifts to include that customer.

Prioritize Planning and Brainstorming

The planning and brainstorming processes are incredibly important in Agile instruction design—maybe even more important than actual execution, so make sure you’re placing proper importance on this part of the process.

This is when all key stakeholders will come together including company leaders, training managers, employees who will be providing input and feedback, and technical creators.

Design Based On Interactivity

Crucial to Agile learning is how the user will interact with it. You need to plan with this in mind. It’s about the story of the user, and for our purpose, that refers to the story of your employees who you will be training.

This is opposed to traditional design theories which put the focus on the learning process, rather than the learners’ interaction with content and systems.

This highlights the importance of getting to know the needs of the learner and taking them into the utmost consideration during the design process.

You want your learner to find each and every step of the learning process as engaging and as immersive as possible, and you need to do the adequate research to determine how they’re going to perceive training and each and every design element.

That demonstrates something valuable to note when discussing Agile design, which is that it’s very much a learner-centric approach to employee training.

A Segmented Design Process

Once you have your plans in place and you feel as if you have a strong understanding of learner needs, you’ll start the actual design process. In ASD, this usually means dividing the entire design project into small chunks.

One chunk or section is completed before moving onto the next.

The benefit of this design approach is that it’s easier to spot potential problems in the design before they become larger and harder to remedy. It can be hard to detect problems or deficiencies when you’re looking at a course as a whole, which is why the micro approach to design is useful.

Cultivating an Agile Culture

When you’re considering an Agile learning approach, it may also be worthwhile to put effort into fostering a culture in line with these principles as well. This will make the employee training experience a good fit with your general workplace.

So what are some features of an Agile culture?

Well, just think back to the elements of ASD. An Agile culture is one that values constant feedback and collaboration, is flexible, and is one where changes are made quickly to address evolution and changing needs.

These are incredibly valuable things to try and harness in your workplace culture. When you use e-Learning to deliver training, and that training followings an Agile design principle, as does your culture, you have a work environment that’s poised to increase its competitive advantage. Rather than lagging behind workplace and industry trends, it’s ready to embrace any and all changes ahead of the competition.

So let us know your thoughts about ASD. Are you designing your employee training and e-Learning with these elements in mind or is your organization not yet embracing the Agile model? Perhaps you subscribe to the ADDIE school?