Blogs • 4 Oct 2018

Our 'ZEN' Best Practice methodology

We learning consultants at Amista experience that many businesses face the same challenges when setting up a new learning project: courses that need to be created in a short amount of time, Subject Matter Experts without a pedagogical background, budget restraints, lack of communication and collaboration between stakeholders, … On top of that, we see that project and design templates are regularly being created from scratch. This means that less time is being spent on more important tasks like designing and creating content for the E-learning or collaborating with the client.

To deal with these challenges in the best way possible we created a best practice methodology. A methodology that collects the experiences and knowledge of our learning consultants which can be implemented for both software and non-software training. In general, we created a standard ‘menu’ to reduce development costs and time.

So why do we call our package ‘ZEN’? Because of the standard processes and procedures, time and therefore, money, is reduced. Furthermore, thanks to the best practices based on real-life experiences the quality of the project is maintained and an effective implementation can be realized. This results in both the client and the consultants remaining at peace throughout the project.

What is our 'ZEN' methodology about?

A learning strategy matters because it provides you with a foundation, helps you define the goals of your project and logically explains how your goals have been met (Read this article: if you want to know how to keep your learning strategy up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry).

We based our methodology on a learning strategy model for designing E-learning courses, called ADDIE. ADDIE provides instructional designers with a roadmap for creating e-learning. It is set up like a production line with each step dependent upon the successful completion of the previous step.

ADDIE is an acronym for the different steps in the creating process of E-learning: Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. For each step standard documents and tools were created to accelerate the development processes.

1. Analyze

In the first phase of the project the training needs, audience and its tasks are being analyzed: What kind of training is needed? What are the characteristics of the audience that needs to be trained and what knowledge or skills need to be developed? To gather all that important information, we created an uncluttered project plan with a work breakdown structure together with a project checklist.

Despite our standard methodology, the client can of course still choose a more customized package. Based on a decision tree, we sit together with the client to analyze their needs for a more standardized or customized package.

2. Design

Before effectively developing the course, we collect all the necessary information to design the course. In our library structure template, the structure of the E-learning courses is clearly visualized, thus forcing the stakeholders to think about the structure and flow of the E-learning modules beforehand. 

To make sure the design stays consistent throughout the project and to increase flexibility, it is recommended to collect the branding guidelines at an early state: what should the main colors, logo’s, fonts, … of the E-learning be? Our resources template helps to visualize these elements.  

For non-software training we created a storyboarding template where all the visual elements, text elements, audio elements, interactions and branching of every screen are specified. This template should be filled in together with the Subject Matter Experts. Specifying the elements beforehand speeds up the content creation process and leads to effective content.

3. Develop

Our progress track template helps to keep track of the progress of all simulations or other E-learning modules during the development phase. Keeping track of the progress improves stakeholder involvement, leads to effective content development and mitigates risks.

4. Implement

We ‘zenable’ your authors and offer a short train the trainer course to make sure your people can keep your content up to date and retain the knowledge within your company:

  • First, we define together what tasks and actions your admin and authors should be able to perform.
  • Second, we train your employees to enable them to do their specific tasks within the application.

We practice what we preach: we provide a blended learning curriculum. Your employees will receive instructor-led training, combined with interactive screen recordings (which also serve as support). Furthermore, we offer a basic guide which can be shared.

5. Evaluate

In the last step of the process we evaluate the E-learning project. Did we meet all the project objectives? Do we need to make changes and plan extra resources? Next, we evaluate the course and its impact on the learners.

Lastly, the client receives an online survey to evaluate the overall quality of the project and the services of our company and consultants. This way we keep optimizing our solutions.

What makes our methodology different?

We have a lot of in-house learning experts, who work exclusively on learning projects. Our methodology is designed specifically to implement as many pre-configured elements as possible to speed up the development time and customize where required to create a solution tailored to your needs.

Try our methodology if you want to start ‘ZEN’ with a new learning project in the future. Are you still not sure what to expect? We offer a Proof of Concept version of the Methodology as well. So, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information and we will listen carefully to all your training questions or struggles.

By Iris Kempenaers - Learning Consultant

ZEN Best Practice Learning methodology