Instructional Design

Learning Solutions as Minimum Viable Products (MVP)

Minimum viable products (MVP) are popular for many things, including software products and applications, start-up companies or concepts, etc. MVP are typically defined as products with the highest rate of return on investment with low risk.

An MVP approach is usually preferred when you want to get something to the market quickly to test it or to beat competitors to the market with a concept.

I like the way this Venn diagram from explains the MPV concept:

When designing and developing an MVP for training and education, as with any product or concept in any industry, you still have to sort out what is “must have” versus “nice to have.”

When it comes to designing and developing learning solutions, there are things that should not be overlooked – usually for the sake of the learner. Of course, end users should always be at the forefront when designing anything – whether or not it’s an MVP. I might argue especially when it’s an MVP learning solution because the learner experience should not be sacrificed for the sake of being quick-to-market – especially in a world where word of mouth is both an opportunity and a risk thanks to social media. Adult learners are keen to notice when the learning experience is falling short.

There are some things that should be on every “must have” list for any MVP that are intended to teach people (training and education products or concepts). There are just some (instructional) things that should not fall victim to the corner cutting that is included as part of the MVP process. This list is not exhaustive, but it is intended to be a starting place for those wishing to produce an MVP.

List of “Must Haves” for MVP Learning Solutions (in no particular order)

To my fellow instructional designers, you’ll notice these things are “basic” must-haves for instructional design. That’s the point. 😉

Solid, SME-validated content
You might have less content in an MVP, but it should be enriching for the learner, nonetheless.

Do I really need to emphasize the importance of assessments in a learning solution?

Assessments aligned to learning objectives
Don’t cut corners by having assessments for the sake of having assessments. Don’t frustrate learners by being testing them on things that they were not taught. Yes, Instructional Design 101.

Sound instructional strategy
It can be easy to get caught up in the product design and forget the instructional part of an MVP learning solution.

Sure you may want to be quick-to-market, but you want to be sure you aren’t missing the market entirely. Right?? Of course! Start with an analysis. Don’t try to save time by cutting this phase out for an MVP.

Personally, I am a fan of iteration for any learning solution but MVP requires a special kind. This is different from rapid prototyping. You have to produce something and “test” it in the market. Risky, but sometimes useful if trying out a new way to present content.

Your turn! What else would you include on this list of must haves for MVP learning solutions?


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