Why Working Iteratively Works for Me (And How It Can for You, Too)

What does an Iterative Approach entail? How can an Iterative Approach improve the online course development process?

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Have you ever tried to train your brain and break yourself out of a bad habit? We’ve all got one (or some). But as anyone who’s tried to cold turkey biting their nails or finally respond to their (dozens? hundreds?) of emails knows, sometimes phasing out a bad habit means establishing a good one in its place. And as it turns out, making good habits can be just as difficult as breaking bad ones. Since this is an educational site chock full of tips and tricks to better your online course, the good habit I’ve been training my brain in, and the one I want to share with you here, is a huge game-changer for course development strategies (more on that to come): working iteratively.

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Working iteratively involves successive refinement, aka processing separate pieces (or chunks, as I like to call them) over and over again with varying degrees of increasing detail until that specific portion is complete. And this method does not come naturally to me at all.


What does come naturally, and the habit I’m trying to replace, is what’s known as the Waterfall Method. The Waterfall Method is one of the most common approaches to project work, and is undoubtedly one you’ve come across before. It involves a linear project approach that advances phase by phase, where each phase is completed before moving to the next.

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So, if working in phases is my default way of thinking, why bother switching things up? And why’s it worth all this cerebral effort to retrain my brain? Because the courses I apply an iterative approach to are more successful than the ones I don’t.


When work is organized into phases, only the tools, people, and processes applicable to that specific,