Instructional designers often juggle multiple projects simultaneously, with each project existing at different stages of the process. Maintaining momentum while some projects are concluding just as others are launching can be a challenge, and designers often encounter roadblocks when project milestones rely on other stakeholders’ input and reviews. Follow these tips to streamline your processes, and consistently deliver high quality final products that satisfy your stakeholders.
In our previous blog on project management for eLearning, we discussed project management best practices for instructional designers. Taking the time to define the project scope and deliverables, to make and follow a communication schedule, and to mitigate potential risks will set you up for success. Effective project management will distinguish you as a capable designer who can overcome (and even prevent) challenges and will help to ensure your projects are completed on time, on scope, and on budget. Consider adding project milestones to your calendar, with reminders set to notify you a day or two in advance. This will ensure you don’t miss any of the deadlines that you have set for yourself and for other stakeholders.
Don’t waste time building out courses before your content is approved. In the early stages of the project, your subject matter experts (SMEs) might send you manuals, recordings of old training sessions, PowerPoint decks, email chains, and any other pre-existing content they have on the topic. Conversely to this information overload, sometimes your SMEs might ask you to do your own research on a topic that is foreign to you. Either situation can set you up to build a course that does not reflect what your SMEs envisioned. Before you spend time developing content in an authoring tool, take the time to draft an outline or storyboard that documents the learning objectives and the actual content of the course in as much detail as you can provide. Once your SMEs have approved your storyboard, you can begin building your course with the confidence they won’t ask for significant changes at a later date that could derail your whole project timeline.
Many rapid development authoring tools now offer templates for eLearning courses, which are an excellent source of inspiration for graphic design as well as utilization of the tool’s features. Templates don’t limit you to using them as-is; you can customize the colors and the items on the slide, as well as add and delete features as you wish. Templates can save you hours of frustration as you stare at the screen with the design version of writer’s block, wondering how you can make your content either interesting, engaging, or visually pleasing. If you are creating a series of courses, you may even consider creating your own template so that your courses all have the same look and feel but with unique content. If your organization requires a certain color scheme, logo, and font for branding purposes, consider making a branded template to use as the foundation for all your courses. Templates offer infinite ways to inspire you as well as to save you valuable time.
If you create numerous eLearning courses for your employer or for the same organization, do you often find yourself repeating yourself? Often times similar messages need to be delivered to numerous audiences within an organization, or some concepts bear enough importance to be covered more than once. Rather than continuously challenging yourself to find new ways of saying the same thing, consider inventorying, documenting, and re-using content that you have already created. For example, maybe a video from orientation could be repeated in an eLearning. Maybe a graphic used in a course could also be used on a job aid discussing a similar topic. By accurately inventorying and labeling your pre-existing content, you’ll have a reference guide to turn to whenever new projects cover similar territory.
Most instructional designers are lifelong learners by nature, and that quest for knowledge should extend to learning the tools of their trade. Taking the time to properly learn (and simply play with) the various tools and software programs at your disposal allows you to work infinitely faster and to think more creatively when you design courses. When you begin using a new tool, complete any training offered by its developer. Sign up for any demonstration webinars they offer, and search online for product reviews and work samples that other designers have created using this tool. Knowing the full range of options available to you in the tool will allow you to create innovative, interactive, and visually appealing courses that will satisfy your project stakeholders and learners alike.
Would you like to continue the conversation on how to improve your workflow and processes? Reach out to us here at Knowbly so that we can help you find the solutions you need.