Learning Design and Development: Doing a Better Job AND Cut Costs

Paradigm Shift by Flickr User askang, CC licensed
Paradigm Shift by Flickr User askang, CC licensed

In the current economic climate many learning designers and developers have been or will be asked to cut costs. At the same time, they will not want to deliver less learning or less quality of learning. How is this possible? Only by changing the paradigm.

A little while ago I had a small involvement in a project of the Dutch Judicial Institutions Service (Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen). They had gotten the challenge to build a prison which would cut the costs of running it on a day to day basis by 30% without losing quality of life for prisoners/staff,  care and security.
The project group managed this successfully (actually increasing quality of life) by doing three things:

  1. Make very effective use of brand new technology (a lot of RFID and GPS based technologies were used).
  2. Make intelligent use of group dynamics by putting six people in one cell (standard in the Netherland is one person in a cell) and actually use this to increase the independence and self-reliance of the prisoners.
  3. An internal “economy” (based on reward points) that stimulates correct behaviour.

Basically they broke down existing prison paradigms and reconceptualised the way a prison should work.

Back to learning design and development: To me it is clear that you cannot cut costs and at the same time continue your learning design and development in the same way as you’ll always done. This would always lead to either less development or to downgrading the quality of the development.

Instead you will have to reconceptualise what it is that you are doing. However unlikely this might sound in the current climate, right now is actually the time to try and maximise the use of new technology and to be extremely smart in your design: this is the moment where you really need to apply your brain.

So here is the challenge to all of you: What will you do radically differently now that you will have to do a better job with less means? I hope to post some of my ideas in the near future.