Baltimore, MD (USA), June 2019 - (by Marina Arshavskiy) Throughout my career as an eLearning designer and developer, I have worked with multiple clients using the waterfall, ADDIE model. However, project after project, I ran into the same type of obstacles. Things were missed during the analysis and design phases, and changes in scope were difficult and too expensive to implement. Furthermore, storyboards were not always effective in communicating the evaluating design alternatives, and detailed outlines and storyboards were so set in stone that there were no more opportunities for creativity.
I knew I needed a solution that would allow me to work closely together with stakeholders to address their constantly changing needs while delivering projects on time and within budget. This is when I turned to the Agile Method for help. With Agile, I was able to put a check mark next to all of the requirements and desires mentioned above and create truly meaningful training solutions.
Benefits of the Agile Methodology
While recently there has been a lot of buzz about Agile, it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, not too long ago, instructional designers used ADDIE, the linear and traditional approach to designing training. However, as time went on, training professionals came to the realization that they needed a more flexible approach that helps them stay on schedule, deliver on budget, and bring concrete outcomes. This is where the Agile Method comes into play. Agile eLearning development means creating eLearning content in short iterations and delivering something meaningful that stakeholders can clearly see from the very beginning.
Additionally, Agile allows stakeholders to become completely involved with the project, which further promotes flexibility and collaboration. While Agile has been adopted by many eLearning professionals due to its elastic nature, adaptation, evolving development, and constant feedback and evaluation, it is not a one-size-fits-all methodology, and each team needs to access their unique work process and culture to determine whether introducing Agile will benefit their organization and specific projects.
As opposed to traditional project-management approaches, Agile methods let you adjust your courses as you go based on the need. Agile project management is an iterative method of managing the design and development activities for eLearning projects. The best part about Agile project management is that it embraces change even late in the development phase.
The main difference between Agile and traditional approaches is that the Agile method reduces complexity of a project by specifying and managing small usable chunks of the project as opposed to managing the whole project at the same time. In the Agile method, team members handle most of the assignments, are responsible for managing their chunk of the project, and are accountable for quality control of their piece of the project.
To ensure the success of any project, Agile project managers are responsible for managing the team’s environment and encouraging decision making among team members. In other words, while the main role of a traditional project manager is to manage cost, time, and the scope of the project, the main role of an Agile project manager is to act as a facilitator to empower the team to achieve results.
The other main advantage of Agile is the "happy customer", who is not only happy about being able to communicate more often with the partner company, but is also following up with its "child" growing up.
Agile gives the confidence that even if something changes in the process such as requirements or customer approach, your work will not suffer but will actually become even more established.
I have comprehensively summarized the results of my extensive experience with the Agile approach in a book entitled "Agile eLearning Development: How to create awesome eLearning courses using the Agile methodology". It is your guide to Agile eLearning Development and project management.
- We’ll start by introducing the benefits and drawbacks of the Agile methodology and comparing it to the traditional eLearning development approach, known as the ADDIE model.
- We will then talk about the most popular Agile methods, such as SCRUM and Kanban.
- Once you gain better understating of how Agile works, we’ll start talking about the steps involved in developing eLearning using Agile. Specifically, we’ll talk about
- determining what to include in early iterations,
- creating course content,
- building the design proof,
- creating user stories,
- evaluating the design, and
- reviewing the deliverables.
You will also learn about the tools that can help you along the way. Furthermore, the book will equip you with the templates and guides you need to successfully introduce and implement the Agile methodology.
To guide you along the way, I have included thought-provoking questions that should help you understand your current process, how you can change it, and what steps you can take to make your eLearning projects more agile.