E-learning And Project Management
Our article on Design Thinking has already addressed the key finding that when developing service offerings, teaching materials or programs, the focus should always be on the user, who should benefit from the developed product. However, to achieve this high goal with e-learning, project management knowledge is an enormous advantage to avoid any pitfalls immediately. In this article, we offer a first insight into this complex topic.
Table of Contents
The Great Battle: Waterfall vs. Constant Repetition (Iteration)
The waterfall model is a traditional project management method that relies on a sequential approach. The phases of a project are processed one after the other, starting with planning and implementation. Each stage must be completed before the next can begin. The waterfall model is very planning-intensive and requires an accurate forecast of the project flow.
On the other hand, the iterative method relies on constant repetition of planning and development phases to react faster and more flexibly to changes and challenges. Various agile methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban, are based on iterations and encourage close collaboration between team members and customers. The focus here is on transparency, communication and flexibility.
Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages and vary in suitability depending on the type and scope of the project. While the waterfall model can be effective on well-defined projects with stable requirements, the iterative method benefits projects with unclear or changing conditions.
The Waterfall Model
Like a waterfall, the waterfall model consists of clearly separated phases that flow down from one stage to the next. The steps are intuitively understandable and easy to use, starting with the planning, in which the fundamental framework conditions of the project are negotiated, followed by the concretization and definition of the project and the creation of a concrete design and its integration into the environment (implementation). Finally, the development is tested and optionally maintained. The waterfall model can be applied quickly and easily in many areas, from e-learning classrooms to software development for navigation systems. The downside is that it’s difficult to swim against the tide as it’s pretty costly to jump back,
The Iterative Models
Iterative models are characterized by their flexibility. As already mentioned, iterative means repetition. The steps are processed in loops, and feedback is constantly obtained and optimized. Typically, the approach is incremental, with small, workable units being built and tested before further processing. A (partially) working prototype is created very early in the process, avoiding many potential mistakes. In contrast to the waterfall model, it is possible to return to a previous phase at any time. Although there are different forms and models based on iteration, they all share this standard basic structure.
Agile project management is the answer to the challenges that the waterfall model brings with it. In contrast, agile development is a highly flexible concept that does not specify rigid structures but leaves room for creativity and interaction. Instead of stringent processes, the focus here is on continuous flow, in which transparency and decentralized structures play an essential role. The result is a highly effective working method focusing on innovation and adaptability.
Overall, both the waterfall and iterative project management models have advantages and disadvantages. While the waterfall model scores with its clear structure and ease of use, it is difficult to make changes afterwards. On the other hand, the iterative models offer more flexibility and avoid gross miscalculations but also require excellent communication and teamwork. Iterative models are instrumental in the e-learning context, enabling potential users to participate in the test phase quickly. However, making these models understandable to the masses and communicating their benefits remains a challenge.