Key to developing new learning experiences is assessing what both the learner and instructor want, what can be done with allocated resources and what is consistent with the client’s overall strategy and goals.
There are many tools available to help shape the direction of a design approach, while also helping minimize a client’s risk. One tool we’ve had great success with is what we call our design triad: Desirable, Feasible, Viable.
The best designers always start with the learner’s needs and dive right into learning outcomes. What is it you want someone to learn? But before you move into the actual design process, you need to first examine the program offering under the three critical lenses, a must in defining what is required for learner success:
• Is it desirable?
• Is it feasible?
• Is it viable?
Is it desirable? Is this experience something your learners want? Will onground students take advantage of this new approach and will instructors want to teach it? Does it offer potential reach beyond your physical campus or serve an additional audience? Is it unique or already offered elsewhere? Who in your sphere of influence would benefit, including previous graduates and any relevant workforce? For example, returning adult learners often seek micro-credentials or professional certificates designed to advance their careers.
“Our end goal is to identify valid reasons to proceed or not, what it will take to get the job done and any new opportunities that might be created as a result.”
Is it feasible? What is required to see the project through to completion? What internal and external resources will be needed to bring this to fruition? Do the benefits outweigh the costs, schedule and technology necessary to deliver the content to the learner? The end goal is to identify valid reasons to proceed or not, what it will take to get the job done and any new opportunities that might be created as a result. An example at this stage would be examining your internal design team’s capabilities. Would developing microcredential programs go beyond these and require outside resources? Is funding available? How long would it take to hire an external team?
Finally, is it viable? Numbers always reveal the truth, so you need to be sure it is financially viable and can be sustained and maintained long term. If we use the example of microcredentials mentioned earlier, factors affecting viability could include:
• What price is required to sustain the microcredential option?
• Is there an opportunity to engage learners beyond your onground campus?
• Is this microcredential “stackable” with other programs for learners who ultimately seek a degree?
• Will marketing this microcredential require additional staff or expertise?
The good news is, even if a project is found to not be viable in its current form, that’s not to say the opportunity can’t be revised to a form that is. The beauty of this design triad is that it not only reveals weak points and potential risks, but also reveals how to course correct these in advance, as well as reveal new opportunities we might not have discovered otherwise.
At the end of the day, our desire is to help you improve learning. Successfully. Profitably. Sustainably. Because that is also how we meet the learner’s needs, today and into the future.