Learning Development Process




The Learning Development Process is divided into 6 specific phases; Analysis, Design, Development, Validation, Deployment, and Evaluation. Each of these phases has a specific function in the Learning Development Lifecycle of a course. The purpose of processes is to establish an efficient method of developing quality learning programs in the shortest time possible. After review of these process it may occur to you that these may be time consuming. They will require some time to adapt to such a process, but the development cycle will become shorter as developers adapt to the processes and the benefits will be worth the investment.


Phase I: Analysis

The Analysis phase considers the motivation for the development of a learning program. The need to develop a course typically originates with a request, but can also be part of an integral process. For example, members of the learning organization may be involved in the development process of a company's product, and thus be involved in examining requirements for a course.

Regardless of the origination of the need or request for development, the Analysis phase considers whether a learning program would actually be required, by examining the reasons behind the request. This is to rule out other solutions that might be more appropriate than the learning program. This is a critical decision point because if development were to continue only to discover that training would not address the needs, then this would result in a waste of time, effort, and money.

If it is determined that a learning program is to be developed, then the metrics by which success of the program is measured are established. This is done by determining the requirements of the learning program. In other words, what is expected from the people who attend this program and how will it help the business. This is the point at which Level 3 and Level 4 metrics are defined, and an experimental group and optional control group are defined if such measurements are required. Also, if ROI is to be measured then tracking of learning development costs begin at this stage.

This phase also would establish the budget and include it along with requirements and other results of the analysis into a learning plan.


Phase II: Design

The Design phase receives the results of the Analysis phase in the form of the learning plan. The learning plan is then updated with the results of the Design phase.

The Design phase establishes the initial framework of the learning program and begins with a Media Selection Process, in which the medium or media is determined for delivery of the learning program. The Media Selection Process considers the content, geographical location of students, student learning preferences, technology capabilities, and budget.

Once a medium or media is selected, then a team can be formed with resources needed for the specific medium or media selected. The team can then establish timelines and schedule, risk assessment, budget constraints, and overall design of the learning program before development begins. This information is updated in the learning plan, and once approved development begins.


Phase III: Development

The Development phase now can apply the design of the learning program as defined in the design phase following a project schedule established in the learning plan.

The resources now apply their skills to actual development of content in the medium or media that has been chosen. The development should begin with creating Level 2 assessment tests designed to validate a student is capable of fulfilling the requirements defined in the Analysis phase. This is critical since the purpose of creating the learning program was determined by the requirements. The assessment tests can be categorized by key subject areas, a pre-test, and a post-test.

Care must also be taken in the design of assessment tests in certification programs. There are legal issues to consider whenever establishing a certification program and the assessment tests must be considered fair for all students.

The content of the course is then developed so that the recipient of the content can successfully complete the assessment tests. If the learning program is delivered via e-learning, then testing of the learning program is needed as described in Engineering E-Learning.


Phase IV: Validation

The Validation phase is where the learning program is "tested" with a real audience, also commonly referred to as a Pilot. If Level 3 and Level 4 is being measured, then part of your experimental group would be likely candidates, however you may opt for other volunteers so that your experimental group is only exposed to the refined learning program.

Besides the standard Level 1 evaluation survey, you should also provide your audience with a specific survey designed to audit the learning program and to solicit specific review comments to be used to update the content.


Phase V: Deployment

Once the learning program has been validated and is considered ready for mass consumption it is deployed as an available course. It is made available to users via a course catalog, announcements, etc. If an experimental group has already been established, then they will already be the first students scheduled to attend the new program. It also provides a marketing advantage for instructor-led courses with limited attendance requirements since students interested in the program will find the first few offerings full and thus conclude it to be a worthy learning program to attend.


Phase VI: Evaluation

Initially you will be able to examine the Level 1 and Level 2 results of the course deployment. This assumes a standardized Level 1 survey as described in Evaluation Management. The Level 1 survey may point out any overlooked errors not caught during the validation phase and can be either corrected immediately or assigned to be updated at a future date.

The Level 2 results will also give an indication as to how well students are learning the content. A pattern of similar missed questions or high failure rate of a particular assessment would raise an awareness of potential flaws in the assessment tests. This is particularly important in certification programs.

If Level 3, Level 4, and ROI is being measured, then it will be some time before these results can be examined. Once they are however, they will define the success of your learning program.

When a major update is needed for the course, you should return to the Analysis phase to prepare the update.


Copyright ©2006 E-Learning Engineering
Last modified: April 22, 2006
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