One truth I have learned about instructional design is that I will never create a “perfect” course; there’s always something that could be better if I had more time or more resources or more skills.
When I interviewed for my first ID job, I asked my soon-to-be-peers the hardest part of their job. One answer stuck with me all these years. He said the hardest thing was knowing when to let go of a course. There’s always something more you could do, but at some point, you have to stop fiddling and launch it.
When I go back to my old courses, I always find something I could improve—tightening up my language, tweaking the visual design to improve clarity, making an interaction more effective. Partly that’s because I always find something to revise in my writing after I’ve had time away from it. Partly that’s because I’m always learning, so I know how to do something now that I didn’t know when I created the course. I can make courses free of errors (typos, factual errors, etc.), but “perfect” is a goal that doesn’t really exist.
It’s hard for someone with perfectionist tendencies like me to admit that perfection isn’t attainable. This is, perhaps, an argument for rapid prototyping or agile development like SAM. If you release a minimum viable product to your audience, then you can keep iterating closer and closer to the ideal. You can let go of trying to be perfect at the start because you know you have lots of opportunities to fix it.
This is also an argument for planning to review and revise courses on a regular basis. I admit I haven’t been doing enough of this, especially since I’ve been consulting and not working as an internal ID. Too often, I hand off a course to a client and never even find out what happens after launching. I could do a better job selling clients on the idea of reviewing a course 60 or 90 days after launch and making improvements if needed.
Do you agree that there are no “perfect” courses? How do you handle it in your own work?