Creating Custom E-Learning is a Lot Like Dating

I’ve just completed my fifth course for a company in the baking industry. Through this process I’ve discovered that creating custom e-learning is a lot like dating. When you first start dating, each interaction yields greater insight into your companion; after a couple of dates, you notice that your date always picks the tomatoes off the salad, or the jazz station is always on when you get into the car.

With each course I built for my client, I learned more about who the decision makers were, what they needed for the review process, what types of expectations they have, and what look and feel they prefer. By course number five, I had gotten really good – I never include images of tomatoes and I’d pick jazz over classical every time. So the question is, “How can I get that kind of knowledge on the first date (i.e. course)?”

The solution to getting to know someone (a client or stakeholder) really well, quickly, might be found by looking to the IT world. Many IT groups use an agile version of development called SCRUM in which they don’t plan out the entire project, but they divide the project into succinct cadences, known as sprints. Here is what the process might looking like for an e-learning course:


Each sprint should last about a week. After each sprint, the team assesses the progress of the project and plans next steps. As you move through each cycle, you will get better and better, faster and faster – and in the end, your change control log is shorter because you didn’t keep including features the stakeholders don’t want. Just think – you’ll completely avoid those long debates about what to do next Saturday night. Each recommendation you toss out will be met with a resounding, “That’s perfect!”

This process can also go a long way with goodwill. Going from storyboard stage to completed product the traditional way takes a long time and clients sometimes feel like it’s a journey that will never end. By using SCRUM, you are able to show results almost instantly, and if it is a course that can be deployed in segments, you could have pieces that are ready to be pushed out to learners much sooner than if you had followed a traditional development method. This gets you to reaching that ROI faster. Stakeholders love this!

All together, this might just be the recipe for a match made in heaven. Do I hear wedding bells anyone?

Tanya Coomes

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