5 Benefits Of Iterative Design In eLearning

5 Benefits Of Iterative Design In eLearning
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Summary: Are you looking for a hands-on design approach that relies heavily on incremental revisions and evaluations? In this article, I'll highlight the basics and benefits of Iterative Design in eLearning, so that you can decide if it's the right strategy for your next eLearning program.

Applying Iterative Design In eLearning: 5 Benefits To Consider

Iterative Design in eLearning involves developing and revising each element of an eLearning project before moving onto the next. Every stage consists of extensive feedback, eLearning course evaluation, and review in order to create a polished piece of eLearning content. Instead of creating a rough draft of the entire eLearning course, as is the case with the Waterfall Design approach, Iterative Design gives you the opportunity to build upon the eLearning course incrementally by actually developing each individual phase. Thus, all of the previous components, online lessons, or units serve as a foundation for proceeding elements. In essence, you take each step as it comes and make certain you have sure footing before you move up the staircase. Here are just 5 of the most notable advantages of an Iterative Design approach.

  1. Identify issues at the earliest possible stage. 
    Instead of waiting until the end to discover issues with the eLearning course during the revision process, you have the ability to detect them after each phase. Thus, you can prevent the same issue from repeating in other areas of the eLearning course, and won't have to worry about the "domino effect". For example, if you notice there is an inaccurate piece of information that appears throughout the eLearning course, such as an idea of concept that is flawed, you can catch it in the first module and avoid extensive revisions later on. You can also change any aspects of the eLearning design and development which are ineffective before you apply them across the board. For instance, you can change the placement of your logo or switch out the color of your background.
  2. Collect valuable feedback throughout the process. 
    Some eLearning projects involve a lengthy revision round at the end, where you meet with the client and collect their feedback before making the necessary changes. Iterative Design, on the other hand, gives you the chance to gather feedback as you go along and make modifications after each phase. This also allows your clients or management staff, in the case of corporate eLearning, to share their input on an ongoing basis, which makes them feel as though their opinions are actually valued. A secondary benefit of this is that clients who may feel a bit nervous or hesitant about the eLearning course design process, such as those who have never developed an eLearning course before, have more control over each element of the eLearning course. They can offer their ideas and insights at any point, rather than having to wait until they see the finished rough draft.
  3. Allows for more eLearning course design time. 
    Iterative Design in eLearning relies heavily on doing rather than discussing. It does involve a significant amount of planning, of course, but eLearning professionals are able to devote more time to actually designing the eLearning course instead of talking about every component of it. For example, if you use the Waterfall Design approach you might spend the first few days or weeks drafting documents, updating them to reflect the client's feedback, and discussing the structure of the eLearning course. Iterative Design in eLearning is a more proactive approach that allows you to dive into the process without having to constantly maintain and update your comprehensive design plan. Therefore, you can dedicate more work hours and resources to the eLearning course design process.
  4. Produces a more polished finished eLearning product. 
    Every iteration involves an in depth evaluation and revision cycle that helps you create a more polished and effective eLearning course when all is said and done. This is primarily due to the fact that you can take your time with each component and not be overwhelmed by the eLearning course, as a whole. It's similar to the concept of cognitive overload that we try to prevent with our online learners. If you have to revise the entire eLearning course and make widespread changes, you are likely to miss things here and there. An idea may be left out or your eLearning scenario has a branching path that leads nowhere. However, Iterative Design offers you the opportunity to devote your full attention to one element at a time, so that you can finish up that phase before you move onto the next.
  5. Puts theory into practice. 
    Sometimes there are issues that you cannot foresee until the eLearning course is completely finished. At least, that's the case when you are taking a more traditional design approach. Iterative Design makes this a non-issue though, as it allows you to detect problems in the eLearning platform, layout, or coding that can compromise the entire eLearning course. It also gives you the chance to see if your ideas are actually practical, or if you may need to rethink your eLearning strategy. For example, you may want to include a particular layout in your eLearning course design, but you soon discover that the position of the images and text makes the pages look cluttered. With Iterative Design in eLearning, you have the ability to test your theories, assumptions, and ideas without having to worry about making extensive modifications later on to account for practicality. This means that you can get more creative with your eLearning course design and push the boundaries, thanks to the fact that you can simply revise it before you progress to the next phase if it doesn't work out as well as you'd hoped.
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Iterative Design in eLearning can be effective for eLearning professionals who want to tackle issues as they arise. It also allows you to focus on one eLearning course component or design phase at a time, rather than trying to develop the complete package from start to finish.

Now that you know about the advantages of Iterative Design in eLearning, take a moment to learn about the AGILE approach, an iterative process that streamlines eLearning design and development. Read the article The Power Of AGILE Instructional Design Approach to understand why it's so powerful when designing eLearning courses.