Developing Agile eLearning Content: Bits and pieces at a time!

When the ADDIE methodology is used to develop eLearning content, everyone knows that the course will take 8 to 10 (or however many) months to be developed. Agile, however, turns that concept on its head and says: Expect something every 2 weeks! How’s that possible?

It is POSSIBLE because of the way Agile approaches the development process. In short iterative cycles, of 2 weeks (called Sprints), instead of one prolonged design, develop, test, and implement cycle. By delivering small chunks of usable content frequently, rather than the entire course at the end of the project. Here are some Agile best practices to follow when developing eLearning courses:


  1. Agile Teams: Build a team of self-organized, cross-functional people. Getting all the experts around the table early on is the key to successful Agile.
  2. User Stories: Look at the content needs from a user perspective. The most popular way to do so is to use the following User Story template:

As a {type of user: Course Admin; Trainer; Student};

I want to {goal: Add a Student; Grade a test; Select a course};

so that I can {reason: Complete the registration process; Evaluate progress; Start a lesson}

  1. Sprint Along: Once User Stories are documented, they can be grouped together into small development cycles of related content, and pushed out in iterations called Sprints. Each Sprint starts with a select number of User Stories (e.g. 7 User Stories about “How To Enrol In The Company’s Benefits Program”), and ends with a complete chunk of content that addresses all those Stories.
  2. Feedback: Each Sprint must culminate with a “Sprint Retrospective” review, where what worked and what didn’t work can be discussed candidly.
  3. Manage Backlogs: At the heart of a successful Agile project is the successful management of User Story backlogs, both for the Sprint, and for the entire project (Product backlog).

Knowing what content (or which User Stories) should be developed for the entire course, and prioritizing which Sprint should contain which User Stories, is an essential part of the entire Agile development process.

A key difference between ADDIE and Agile is how teams work. Agile, unlike ADDIE, supports an open communication concept, where it is believed that ANYONE on the team can have a good idea, and EVERYONE should be heard.

Want to know more about writing effective user stories and the Agile process in general? Get my Agile ELearning Development book and start developing your courses the Agile way!

  • That’s a very informative post, this is exactly the kind of content that makes internet a great place for finding information. I think it’s great that with Agile you can deliver smaller chunks of content frequently, instead of delivering the entire course at the end of the project. It allows for quick and streamlined progress which is always great.

    August 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm

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