As technology is injected more and more into courseware, there are additional benefits of Lean-Agile.

Getting instructional/LX designers and media staff used to Lean-Agile moves your teams farther when more interactive courseware is desired and simulations are added as either components of the courseware or as the primary delivery.

Simulations are far more dependent on software than traditional instructor-led training, so most of the typical software development ideas for Agile are not changed much for Sim development for training.

Historically, there was much focus on Adobe Flash and ActionScript as the language for development. Now because many mobile devices do not work with Flash, the focus has been towards HTML5 (JavaScript, CSS) at least on the front-end.

In days past, when the software components were small additions to a largely text-based course, the instructional development team would make a request for a segment of interactivity and they would treat it as a black box. The request would go in to another team. The instructional development team would get little data on the progress until the development was almost done, other than some questions from the interactivity specialists.

As we move into instructional/LX designs where the software driven components make up larger and larger portions of the total courseware, it is no longer viable to treat them as black boxes and hope they turn out on time and under budget.

In plan-driven, traditional training development, the uncertainty of the predicted end date of a simulation stays high until nearly the end of the project. That is because the courseware or simulation "batch" is not finished until near the end, increasing risk. Some organizations use lesson "batches" which are smaller but their size can vary significantly. Little data is available on how long it takes to complete these larger batches with this particular team of people and their tools until late in the process. When using Lean-Agile, the data comes in earlier. A product increment (of courseware or of simulation) is completed every two weeks. For each iteration, the uncertainty of the end date decreases.

Visual management also helps make the software-driven components that are still in process visible to the learning experience development team. This visibility also helps professionally develop instructional/LX designers by increasing their awareness of all that is involved in building software-driven learning components for courseware and helps them to better judge what is feasible in a particular timeframe and budget when it comes to instructional components that are largely software. Implementation has changed too. The courseware product backlog might benefit from a simulation component backlog so that the work items for the training development team are not all mixed together with the work items for the simulation development team.

For example, the work items are user stories, written in the user story format:

"As a [role], I want [Sim behavior] so that [benefit]."

The interfaces for both the learner/player and the instructor (if facilitated) are treated the same as in software application development.

Developing an underlying systems dynamics model or discrete event simulation model to drive learning is a large batch of work when considered as a whole, and it needs to be broken down into work items that can be completed during a single iteration.

Learning objectives still constrain simulation experience goals so LO work items are still used.

Work items to develop learning content that is accessible by the simulation player in a specific context during the Sim is another example of the overlap between the Sim development team of software developers and the instructional development team.

When the customer wants the ability to maintain and modify the simulation content, the encoding of most of the content in HTML5 with simulation data in separate XML or JSON files separates it from the simulation engine code and allows non-specialists to modify what shows up on the screen. This allows customers to keep the Sim relevant for a longer period of time.

So Lean-Agile also benefits learning simulations and other software-driven components by making the process and the current progress visible to all stakeholders, including exposing instructional/LX designers to more complex technology development practices.


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