Learning Design Models Are Fine: But Are They Practical?

One of the most important things a learning experience (LX) designer can do is apply a sound, repeatable process to one’s designs. The problem I have with design processes is that they are often too vague and do not actually tell you what to do in the moment. For example, take a look at the A in ADDIE. Analyze. The books on ADDIE will generally tell you that before you begin creating a learning experience, you will want to figure out what is needed. Of course this makes sense, but what I really want to know is how to actually determine those needs.

Check List

Now, there are many ways to skin a cat, so design models cannot give precise prescriptions. However, the problem remains, that I still don’t know what one mean when one says, “Do the analysis phase first.” And I certainly do not know how to repeat that process every time I have a new LX design project.

I like simple. I like articles, books, processes that actually tell me how to do something. So, for the LX design work in my organization, we wanted to create a checklist that would actually tell us what steps to take to help us be more efficient about our design projects. Plus, we wanted those steps to be organized in such a way, that they could be easily placed in our project management tool, Asana, so that our projects can be easily set up, tracked, shared, and of course, completed.

In a recent blog post, Learning Design: When You Just Don’t Know Where to Start, I wrote about practical steps an LX designer can take to move along their learning projects. From the ideas in this blog post, the check list below was born. I use this check list to set up my project plan whenever I begin a learning design project. It is certainly not perfect, but it is specific enough that I know what to do next.

Analyze Need (Key Milestone)

  1. Interview Stakeholders
  2. Review Reports
  3. Determine Need

Design and Develop Content (Key Milestone)

  1. Outline Subject Areas
  2. Write Learning Objectives
  3. Write Assessment Questions for Each Learning Objective
  4. Develop Content for each Learning Objective
  5. Write Scripts
  6. Develop Slide Content
  7. Create Activities/Review for each Subject Area
  8. Create Learner Guide
  9. Record Audio
  10. Get Content in Authoring Tool

Review and Test (Key Milestone)

  1. Proof Read and Edit Material
  2. Review course for time (record length of course)
  3. Publish to LMS
  4. Test the course – for errors, glitches in screens and assessments, etc

Implement (Key Milestone)

  1. Assign course to appropriate groups
  2. Communicate course readiness to target audience

The intent of this check list is not to criticize existing design models or to come up with a new one. The intent is to create a practical, repeatable process that I can follow to get work done. I wonder if you do something similar. If you do, please share your ideas below. How do you set up your project plans so you can get work done?

Bill Cushardauthorblogger, and head of learning at Allonhill, is a learning leader with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Allonhill.