We recently did a retrospective of our 2018 projects, which got me thinking about the lessons that I’d like to carry into 2019 (and beyond). Three big takeaways from last year’s learning development projects are:
Processes exist for a reason.
We had one project where we implemented a new storyboard. (Not using a storyboard? You should. Using a storyboard leads to quicker development.) In the short term, it made a lot of sense. The new format was easier for the instructional designer to use and allowed the storyboard process to proceed more quickly.
But it turns out that the new storyboard format didn’t contain everything that the developers needed to have to program the courses (Microassist splits course design into designer and developer roles). As a result, we had to find new answers and establish new workflows, creating unnecessary friction in the project and significantly slowing development time.
So: Keep working processes when you can; and if you decide to change, allow enough time to deal with the unexpected.
Unanswered questions can mean a lot of work.
We had a couple of projects where we didn’t get answers to all of our questions—like “where will this course live?” The thought was to keep flexibility throughout the process, so that we’d be able to adjust if we needed to.
However, as was likely inevitable, where the course would live changed at the last minute. As a result, there was a scramble to make sure that the courses were available in the right format so that they could function in the new location.
So: Push hard to nail down the answers to questions early in the project.
Identify your stakeholders.
We had a couple of courses where the course was sent to an unexpected reviewer (we’ve found that unidentified stakeholders are a recurring issue).
In one case, the external reviewer took a while to approve, which slowed the course development process significantly. In another, the external reviewer came back with some minor requests that were easy and quick to implement (and, well, resulted in a better course).
So: Make sure that those questions you ask include who is a stakeholder on the project—and inform everyone of the consequences that may occur if someone becomes a stakeholder at the last minute.
Reviewing past projects isn’t an academic exercise. All of these experiences will both inform future projects and provide great stories when discussing new course development. You’d like to use a different process? You don’t have an answer to this question? Not sure who might be reviewing the course? Let’s talk about real-life consequences, based on our previous experiences.
Until next time,
Dr. Kevin Gumienny (Bio)
Microassist Senior Learning Architect
This Month in Learning
How to Create a Welcoming Culture for Autistic Students : Clara Joy Gibson has guidance for creating a welcoming culture for autistic students on university campuses (“If there is an advocacy group for autistic people on campus, find out whether any autistic people are in that group.”) It’s great for campuses—how might it be adapted for the workplace?
Why do so many animated films have great stories?: At Vox, Todd VanDerWerff points out the importance of storyboarding in the creation of so many great animated films.
With Augmented and Virtual Reality, Tour Your Office Before It’s Built: Aili McConnon writes in the New York Times about the growing importance of augmented and virtual reality in real estate. Can we use it training?
Lunch with M: Ever wonder how Michelin trains their restaurant reviewers? You have to dig in the article a bit, but John Colapinto at the New Yorker provides some insight.
‘Bandersnatch’ Has Many Paths, but Do Any of Them Add Up to Anything?:
Given my love of both choose-your-own-adventure games and scenario-based learning, I couldn’t pass up Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. The New York Time’s collection of critical reviews gives significant insight into the experience.
The Poet Training Tool : Every wanted to know everything you needed to know about alternative text for images? Take a look at the Poet Training Tool.
How one designer created the “look” of jazz: The visual design of modern jazz. It’s just plain inspirational. Make sure to watch the video.
How to make a website for your creative work : Do you have a portfolio of your elearning projects? Would one be helpful? Jason Huff has a great discussion of how to create a website portfolio at Fast Company.
This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of our Learning Dispatch newsletter. Subscribe using the form below and get learning and development insights each month!