May 12, 2022

Understanding Agile Instructional Design for Training

As a learning and development professional, it’s your responsibility to create content that elevates your employees’ skills and increases their job satisfaction. In the past, you’ve probably applied traditional management structures to your training team – a manager delegates tasks to team members, each working on a different aspect of the training material.

Unfortunately, this is not the the most sustainable approach to creating training materials, especially if you want to increase learning and development opportunities in your business. Luckily, that’s not the only way to approach training either!

This guide will discuss an innovative approach to content development called Agile Instructional Design by covering the following points:

  • What is Agile Development?
  • What does it mean to apply Agile principles to instructional design?
  • What are the benefits of Agile instructional design?

Whether you’re creating courses for K-12 institutions, higher education and universities, or corporate learners, Agile Instructional ddesign can elevate your development process and increase your commitment of staff members. Keep reading to learn more.

Agile instructional design involves taking a more flexible approach to training content development.

What is Agile Development?

Before Diving into Agile instructional design, it is necessary to first define Agile development.

Created in 2001 by a group of independent software practitioners, Agile development is originally a software design methodology. More of a mindset than a strict set of rules or process to follow, Agile is governed by 12 principles designed to empower development teams and create content in a flexible way.

This explains in detail the 12 principles of Agile development. For a quick recap, here is a summary of the main ideas:

  • Development teams must accept requirement changes and adjustments to the overall goal, even if they are shared late in the development process.
  • Teams should have the support and resources they need to create content. They should be trusted to organize themselves and do the work independently.
  • The focus should be on sustainability, which means that developers work at a steady pace at all times without being forced into significant time constraints.
  • The development team should regularly reflect on its processes to discover opportunities to be more efficient.
  • Key stakeholders and developers should work closely together on a day-to-day basis throughout the project.
  • Effective software is the primary measure of success.

Agile development removes the bottleneck that sometimes comes from more traditional management structures. Development teams are collaborative, self-organizing and cross-functional, rather than depending on a manager through whom all information must pass to delegate tasks.

If you are familiar with the idea of ​​lean building – a building philosophy that maximizes value while minimizing waste – then Agile development is not a far leap. By focusing on creating the ideal environment for developers and continuously improving processes, developers can create higher quality content in a shorter time.

What does it mean to apply Agile principles to instructional design?

Agile was created for software development. So how can this impact instructional design?

Essentially, Agile instructional design involves taking a more flexible approach to developing training content. Stakeholders and developers work together throughout the process, and course adjustments can be made before, during, and after the development process is complete.

What are the benefits of Agile instructional design?

If you’re unsure whether Agile instructional design would improve your team’s training material development process, consider the following benefits:

  • Encourages ongoing collaboration. When key stakeholders, instructional designers, and educational media specialists all collaborate, it results in stronger content. The many stakeholders have a unique view of how the content can be improved, and those opinions can be incorporated throughout the process rather than at the end when the content is complete.
  • Produce deliverables quickly. Rather than making design decisions in a bureaucratic bottleneck, your instructional design team has the autonomy to respond to changing decisions as they arise. This ability to pivot quickly means designers can change content faster than ever, even if your training schedule changes at the last minute.
  • Create affordable materials. Because Agile prioritizes a sustainable creation process – in which time and other resources are used as needed and not wasted – the overall process of creating training materials can be much more affordable. You will also be able to update and iterate on existing content in the future, rather than redoing the course every time an update is needed.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicted in 2018 that 42% of in-demand skills in industries would change over the four-year period from 2018 to 2022, and this change has indeed happened as expected. It’s up to you to keep up with changing demand and create content accordingly.

Adopting the Agile Instructional Design method, or working with a content development partner who uses it, will keep your training offerings up to date with changing workforces and in-demand skills.

About the Author

Salma Torres is an instructional writer and content curator at Skypack.