‘Ikea’ in eLearning Design and Development

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Our belief: At Vignettes Learning we use stories in eLearning; however, we make them interactive. The emphasis is getting learners involved in the story and not just telling the learners the story.
Synthesis. eLearning content should be a collaboration between the client and the instructional designer and developer. Without the collaborative process, it is more difficult to produce effective and impactful elearning design. This is the reason why training needs analysis is important in elearning development. The first question a developer should ask the client is: what do you want to learn?

Recently, Ikea launched an ingenuously designed shelter for refugees. In his article, A New Ingeniously Designed Shelter For Refugees—Made By Ikea, Shane Snow writes:

“The Ikea Foundation (which has invested approximately 3.4 million euros in the project so far) and UNHCR will beta test the shelters in Ethiopia next month, then iterate to a final design for mass production. They currently cost $10,000 to make, but they’re hoping to get that price down to less than $1,000 when they’re in mass production. The tents cost half that, but they hope to have the cost even out, given the long life of the shelters.”

The same article cites that these innovative shelters are twice as large as the old-school refugee tent. They measure 17.5 square meters, take four hours to assemble and designed to last 10 times longer than the conventional ones. Take a look at the Ikea tent here.

Putting on my designer’s hat, I became fully aware of the amount of research, situational-needs analysis, behavioral study and technical preparations Ikea designers went through to produce the innovative refugee shelters. The design is objective and end-user specific: for refugees.

The process of developing the elearning design is similar to the design approach of the said tent. Just as the blueprint of the tent was based on the needs of the refugees, the development of elearning modalities should consider the assessed requisites of the learners. 

In this sense, a needs analysis is a vital step. A shotgun approach will not achieve learning goals especially in the development of the elearning design. 

The next key step would be the presentation and discussion of results with client. Here lies the opportunity for a collaborative approach between designer /developer and the organization’s elearning stakeholders.

In my years as an eLearning developer, I am convinced with certainty that the most effective and impactful lessons are those co-designed by the client. Co-design in this respect means that the client spent collaborative sessions with the developer to analyze the needs of the organization.

Entities subscribed to elearning, participate in the development of lessons. After all, the principals have better knowledge of its members than the developers. Collaborative elearning development produces contextual lessons that hit the bull’s eye.

In my book 3-Minute Learning, I pointed out one of the common pitfalls in eLearning course development: designing and developing e-Learning programs without understanding the principles of elearning behaviors and the nature of internet technologies.

Based on the above fact, I cite these guide points for both the developers and elearning principals:

  • Learning needs analysis should be implemented with a critical mind. The principal should disclose relevant data and information that could help designers come up with an objective-specific lesson.
  • Designers should be given the general background of the elearners. Prior knowledge of the contextual situation of the organization would definitely help designers customize an appropriate eLearning design.
  • Principals should inform the designers about the strengths and weaknesses of the organization in relation to the lesson being designed. This way, the designers and developers are able to build the learning parameters.
  • Learning results should be quantifiable and measurable.
  • Keep in mind that the behavior of learners in an elearing environment is different. Virtual classroom solicits a different attitude and disposition from the learners. What works in a conventional learning environment would not necessarily apply in a virtual class.
  • Conduct a Beta test of the virtual lessons and invest time in implementing trial runs to recognize the flaws and defects of the conceptual and technical elements of the design.
  • Allow the principals and the learners to evaluate the elearning design.
  • Record and keep the evaluation results. Knowledge benchmarks are necessary for the next phase of the elearning development.

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A New Ingeniously Designed Shelter For Refugees—Made By Ikea, Shane Snow

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