One of my favorite tips for developing exceptional eLearning content is to collaborate with others in the up-front stages when you’re designing your solution. Research has shown that group work invariably produces a stronger result, regardless of the project at hand—and so it is with eLearning. Here are five rules I follow when thinking through a learning solution:
1. Write A Creative Brief
Write a creative brief that summarizes the challenge, learning objectives and audience and gives a high-level overview of existing content for everyone to read before your brainstorming session. It is also important that everyone understands the constraints of the project (budget, timeline, technology) in advance.
2. Bring In Teammates With Various Skills And Perspectives
Instructional Designers, creative designers, and technical developers all can lend different points of view and offer very different, innovative ideas to solve a learning challenge. Think also: Is there anyone on your team that represents the learner audience demographic? Definitely invite that person to the party!
We love to use Lucid Chart to draw and create flowcharts for our learning designs. It’s a wonderful tool because you can collaborate in real time in virtual work environments like ours. If you don’t have a license for Lucid Chart, the same tasks can be done in Google Docs or Google Slides.
4. Hold At Least An Hour—Maybe More
It’s also sometimes useful to have one session, then go away and think independently, and then regroup the next day to settle on a final idea. For a recent project, after our initial session, two of us worked independently to flesh out two very different ideas. Then we used the second session as a “showdown” where we pitched our ideas to the others in the group. The final result was a hybrid of both ideas—elements were adopted that I never would have thought of, if I just designed the solution alone.
5. Remain Open
No idea is a bad one. Maybe it’s a little cliché, but it’s true. Off-the-wall ideas often generate more moderate, feasible innovations to a project. If you just have time for one session, consider structuring your time as follows:
- At the start of the session, let the ideas fly freely for 10–15 minutes; capture them.
- Use the next 15 or so minutes to focus on two to three contenders.
- Home in on one solution, teasing out the details in the final 30 minutes.
I find that after a session like this, I can grab the baton and take the solution over the finish line. I am so grateful to be surrounded by people with different points of view who allow my solutions to benefit from their uniqueness—and suggest you try it too!