The Role of an Instructional Designer as Project Manager

The Role of an Instructional Designer as Project Manager
Summary: Managing e-Learning Projects is extremely important for successful e-Learning course design. This article is the second in a series about e-Learning Project Management. Check it out and learn about the role of an instructional designer as project manager.

Managing e-Learning Projects - Part 2

In my first article about eLearning Project Management, I covered the reasons why eLearning projects fail. In this post, I will talk about the role of an Instructional Designer as project manager.

Connecting Instructional Design and Project management

An Instructional Design (ID) initiative is quiet often (and rightfully so!) looked upon as a "project" or "sub project" within an organization's broader learning strategy. What this means is that, in addition to having all of the traditional elements that come with any ID venture, such as those included in the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) Model, to be successful, ID initiatives must also include aspects of Project Management (PM).If you have never given a thought to this aspect of instructional design, you are probably wondering, "So, do I now need to also hire a Project Manager for my upcoming ID initiative?” Well, the answer is "It depends!”PM methodologies, like those espoused by PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge ) or PRINCE (Projects In Controlled Environments) often separate what they are developing (an eLearning Course, a Mobile App, a multi-storied building), managing and delivering, from discipline-specific methodologies (like ADDIE or SDLC (System Development Life Cycle)). However, there are many similarities in the roles that an Instructional Designer and a Project Manager play.For instance:

  • Where an Instructional Designer might need to consider the Needs Analysis of the ID initiative, the PM looks at the project's Concept.
  • As part of ADDIE, the designer will get into Learning Objectives and outlining the curriculum, while the PM will similarly focus on Defining and Scoping the project.
  • The Instructional Designer looks at Authoring, Coding and Scripting as part of the Development phase of the course, while a PM will consider this to be part of a Detailed Design phase of the project.

A closer look at the similarities between the two disciplines (ID and PM) then leads us to conclude that an Instructional Designer does, in fact, also wear a (partial!) PM’s hat when carrying out his/her role. However, while PM's look at Project Sponsors, Project Charters and Project Budgets as within the purview of their role, the Instructional Designer has to worry about Learning Experiences, Skills Gaps and Learning Outcomes.While many companies might afford to hire dedicated PMs for ID initiatives, with some training, an Instructional Designer can very easily fulfill that role.In the next blog post about Managing e-Learning Projects, I will talk about the Stages of Effective eLearning Project Management. I will also cover the Skill Set required for Successful Management of e-Learning Projects, so please stay tuned!If you want to learn more about Instructional Design for eLearning, you are more than welcome to check the Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book.

Managing e-Learning Projects Article Series

  1. Why eLearning Projects fail? 
  2. The Role of an Instructional Designer as Project Manager
  3. Stages of Effective eLearning Project Management
  4. e-Learning Project Management Tips and Considerations