As a product guy who has experience with startups, SaaS companies, and large technology companies I have come to realize there are principles in this “IT world” that would translate well to the world of online education. Whether you are creating your first eLearning program or looking to take a continuing education program online consider some of the following tips.
Determine your MVP
No, I’m not talking about your Most Valuable Player, I mean your Minimum Viable Product. What are the bare essential requirements you need to constitute to make your program viable? Ensure you have your MVP in place, launch your program and then add in all the extras that will make it “perfect”. While we all strive for perfection, today’s fast-paced, competitive world doesn’t allow the time required to develop that “perfect” product or program. Establishing an MVP will give you the time and the learner feedback to create a more perfect product or program. Which brings me to my next tip.
Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
When I talk about “iterating,” I mean making small, incremental improvements to the program based on market-validated feedback. It is quicker, less costly and much less risky to make small, incremental improvements versus developing large enhancements which may be off-target. For example, if you notice that the video quality of your last program wasn’t up to your customer’s standards, consider increasing your network bandwidth before making a large investment in hiring out a broadcasting studio. Make a small change, see how that works, make another change, see how that works, etc. How do you know if something is working? Read the next tip.
Measure, Evaluate, Persevere or Pivot
Firstly, ensure you have a well-defined success criteria to any action you take. There should always be a well-defined, positive outcome to your actions, thoughts and decisions. Once you’ve established your success criteria, measure your progress. Evaluate your incremental results and assess whether to persevere in the same direction or pivot to a new direction. This removes the temptation to act on “gut instinct” and gives you the perspective needed to make the most effective decisions.
Don’t Be a Lone Ranger
Finally, don’t try to do this alone. Look within your organization for ways to turn 1+1 into 3 and leverage those synergies to further develop your program. This philosophy may manifest itself in a small capacity, such as holding meetings with key members of your team to assess your current situation. It may also manifest it itself in a larger capacity by collaborating with cross-functional teams within your organization. For example, consider teaming up with your Membership and Marketing departments to attract new members with a special discount on some valuable educational content. I’ve seen many of our clients leverage the collaboration with other cross-functional teams to increase the likelihood for overall success.