This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of The Record.
Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Fail-fast is a development methodology that works on the premise of assuming you will fail, finding the failures, and moving on rapidly, often resulting in more stable products and fewer issues.
What if we apply these principals to learning?
The fail-fast learning method is built around the idea of presenting the learner with desired outcomes or challenges. The learner is given a goal – expressed in requirements – and must meet the goal or solve the problem by experimenting. He may or may not be given hints, clues or reference material.
The learning platform monitors his progress in real time and provides him with live feedback on his success or failure on completing the tasks. If appropriate, the platform provides him with the option to try again and again and again, until he gets it right.
This fail-fast method yields immediate results:
1. Learners will very quickly find out if they understand the topic or technology and if existing skills transfer to new products or a new version.
2. This is, without a doubt, the fastest method of establishing a baseline of what a learner knows and what he needs to work on.
3. The platform evaluates the learner’s ability to work in a real environment with access to documentation, tools and working product.
4. The act of failing is an incredibly powerful teaching tool.
Learning companies should focus efforts on providing learners with safe sandboxes. Provide them with a set of goals and let them experiment. Let them use the skills they have to attempt things and, if they fail, let them easily try again.
Learn on Demand Systems is taking the lead by developing a series of challenge-based learning products that put the notion of fail-fast at the core of the experience. These challenges are presented in our isolated Cloud Slice solution on Microsoft Azure, and they give learners a set of tasks to perform.
As often as they wish, learners can attempt to complete each task and ask the platform to verify that they completed the task correctly. Learners can choose from challenges in multiple formats and at multiple levels of difficulty with logical paths of progression. The challenges supplement traditional video and instructor-based learning by giving learners both the chance to prove what they’ve learned from training and the opportunity to quickly establish a knowledge baseline that helps them determine whether they require training or can figure it out on their own.
Corey Hynes is CEO at Learn On Demand Systems
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