How to Conduct an eLearning Project Retrospective

How often do you finish one eLearning project and move right on to the next, without evaluating the successfulness of the last project? The truth is, it’s all too easy to avoid taking the time to review and discuss what did and did not work in the execution of your last eLearning project. By skipping this process, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity to learn from the past and improve in the future. This is where an eLearning project retrospective can help.

Whether you call it a retrospective, postmortem, debrief, or wrap-up; the purpose of an eLearning project retrospective is simple: to help you and your team evaluate your performance and processes, and hopefully improve them in the future. This is done by answering the following questions:

  • What did we want to accomplish?
  • What did we actually accomplish?
  • What did and did not go well?
  • What are we going to do differently next time?

The next time you finish an eLearning project, follow these three steps to conduct your very own eLearning project retrospective.

Review the Project

Start your eLearning project retrospective by reviewing the project and course. It’s likely that you have members of your team that aren’t privy to the full details of the project. Take a few moments to cover the goals, budget, timeline, audience, constraints, etc. The goal is to give a thorough history of the project, from start to finish.

eLearning Project Retrospective postmortem tim slade

If you have time, take a moment to click through the eLearning course to showcase the final deliverable. This can give the other participants additional context as to what was actually created. Share any important instructional or visual design decisions you made, any technical challenges you overcame, and anything new or innovative you attempted.

Discuss What Did and Didn’t Go Well

After you’ve reviewed the project and given your participants some historical context, the next step in your eLearning project retrospective is to discuss what did and didn’t go well. Remember, the purpose of the retrospective is to learn from and improve your eLearning development process. This is your opportunity to have an open and honest conversation about the project, those involved, and the end result.

eLearning Project Retrospective postmortem tim slade

I always suggest starting with the positive stuff. Take some time to celebrate any successes made during the project. From there, transition into discussing what didn’t go well. This is where you want to evaluate the entire project with an objective and critical eye.

  • Did you deliver the course past the desired timeline? If so, what caused the delay and how can it be avoided next time?
  • Were your subject matter experts challenging to work with? If so, what can you do to improve those relationships in the future?
  • Did the project creep beyond the initial scope? If so, how can you better identify scope creek during your next project?

Identify How to Improve in the Future

The final step in your eLearning project retrospective is to identify specific actions you and your team will take to improve your eLearning development process in the future. Although asking and answering some of the questions I outlined earlier can be uncomfortable, they are necessary for improving you and your team’s performance in the future.

eLearning Project Retrospective postmortem tim slade

Sometimes, it’s not always clear what the right answer is to fix the issues you might identify during your eLearning project retrospective. However, the goal isn’t to make the perfect decision or change the first time. The goal is to experiment with little tweaks and modifications to your process and then evaluate them at your next retrospective. This is an iterative design process at the macro-level.

What other tips can you share about conducting an eLearning project retrospective? Share your tips by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Tim Slade
Hi, I’m Tim Slade, and I’m a speaker, author, and award-winning eLearning designer. I’ve spent nearly a decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content. I’ve been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for my creative and innovative design aesthetics. I also speak regularly at national eLearning conferences, and I’m a recognized Articulate Super Hero and co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

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