An Outline For Creating An Instructional Design Document

An Outline For Creating An Instructional Design Document
Summary: In order to build anything, we need a “blueprint” – a document that acts as a framework for the project; the same applies to eLearning. Before we start developing an eLearning course, we need to create a blueprint and that is called Instructional Design Document.

How To Create An Instructional Design Document

An eLearning course is developed through the combined efforts of Instructional Designers, learning designers, multimedia developers, technology experts, Subject Matter Experts, and project managers. When you have so many stakeholders involved, how do you ensure that the project stays on course and does not lose its focus?  What is the single document that binds all the people involved to work toward a common goal?  That document is called the Instructional Design Document (IDD).

The Instructional Design Document functions as a single reference point that guides multiple stakeholders as they perform their individual tasks related to developing an eLearning course.

What Does An Instructional Design Document Do?

The Instructional Design Document provides a framework that guides all key individuals involved in the eLearning development process.

An Instructional Design Document answers questions such as:

  • What is the purpose of the course?
  • What are learners expected to know/do at the end of the course?
  • Who is the audience?
  • How will the course be accessed?
  • What will be the instructional strategy adopted?
  • What are the interactive elements used?
  • How will learners be assessed?

Additionally, it also specifies the overall course structure and detailed outline for individual modules. In short, it provides a set of rules and guidelines that Instructional Designers and course developers must adhere to as they build the course.

Why Is The Instructional Design Document Important?

The process of eLearning development involves several people –project owners, project managers, trainers, Subject Matter Experts, learning design experts, authoring tool experts, technology specialists, translators, audio narrators, and more. How do you ensure the efforts of everyone involved are directed in the same direction and purpose? How do they have the same understanding of the course objectives and the way the course is supposed to shape up? The Instructional Design Document captures the consensus about the global instructional approach to be adopted among the key players of the project. It documents how the course structure, navigation, or design should be, the audio and visual elements to be used, and so on. It is a documented proof that all key stakeholders in the project agree with the vision and objectives of the eLearning course. It ensures that the eLearning course stays on track and achieves the purpose for which it is designed.

An Outline For The Instructional Design Document

So, we can create an Instructional Design Document using either MS Word, MS PowerPoint, or any other tool that works for the team. The key is to prepare it and get it vetted by all key stakeholders of the project and get their buy-in. Here is a sample outline that consists of the key information required to prepare an Instructional Design Document. We can use any template or format that best caters to the requirement.

1. Project Context.

Provide a short background to the course and its end objectives:

  • Purpose of the course.
  • End objectives.

2. Project Requirements.

Include specifications provided by the project owner or key stakeholder:

  • Cost.
  • Timelines.
  • Standards.

3. Learning Requirements.

Information about the audience:

  • Audience profile.
  • Learning environment (where will they access the course – office, home, public places).

4. Course Objectives.

  • Learning objectives.
  • Performance  goals.

5. Instructional Strategy.

  • Presentation patterns.
  • Media strategy (use of audio, visual, and other multimedia elements).

6. Assessment Strategy.

Define the purpose, frequency, and scoring strategy:

  • Formative assessments.
  • Summative assessments.

7. Course Format Or Structure. 

Detailed Content Outline:

  • No. of modules.
  • No. of slides in each module.
  • Content strategy at each level.

8. Development Tools.

  • Authoring tools used.
  • Other tools.

9. Project Sign Off Sheet. 

Taking concurrence from all key players.

Final Thoughts 

The format and structure of the design document may vary, based on the way it works in your organization. However, essentially, the above outline will help you ensure all key information is captured before the development of the course. You can customize this outline based on your specific needs. Investing time in preparing the Instructional Design Document ensures that there is clarity on the overall vision of the course and provides specific guidance on the direction that individual stakeholders such as Instructional Designers, multimedia developers, and technology experts should take with respect to their individual roles and responsibilities. It ensures that all elements of an eLearning course such as the learning modules, interactivities, and assessments complement each other and work in tandem toward the same learning goal.

The preparation of the Instructional Design Document is just one step in the Instructional Design process of eLearning course development.  If you would like to know more about the other steps involved as  part of the Instructional Design process, download our eBook Instructional Design 101: A Handy Guide for eLearning Designers.

eBook Release: CommLab India Rapid eLearning Solutions
CommLab India Rapid eLearning Solutions
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