Project Management- Skills for Many Disciplines

Like teachers, instructional designers do more than design instruction.  Just as it is helpful for teachers to have knowledge about other fields including technology, psychology, communications, statistics, etc, it is important for teachers and instructional designers to have knowledge of project management.  While this is not likely the main focus of the job, instructional designers likely spend a portion of their time on tasks that would fall into project management (Rooij, 2010).  Even if an instructional designer is not expected to perform project management duties, knowledge of the project management process is helpful for communication with team members. This knowledge can help enhance conversations with teams and stakeholders, allows instructional designers to see were instruction fits into the larger organization or institution, and allow an ID professional to shift perspectives between that of a project manager and instructional designer (Turner, et. al., 2010, p.5).

Project managers and instructional designers must both complete task analysis.  While this is a more focused process for instructional designers who are looking at the needs of the learners, in both cases, gaps must be determined in order to determine focus and scope.  These, in turn, make the process of task differentiation and sequencing easier.   Once gaps between actual and expected knowledge and skills have been established, primary tasks to fills these gaps can be defined.  Task differentiation and sequencing makes training repeatable and can increase buy-in from learners.  If training is disorganized, learners may become frustrated and are less likely to change their attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. Offering a clear step-by-step plan is more likely to result in lasting change (Freifield, n.d.).

When using project-based learning in the classroom, a stronger understanding of project management will allow me to better define primary tasks and help my students to stay focused by including specific deadlines.  Task differentiation and sequencing would help to manage the chaos that is inherent in project-based learning.

I think that more specific task differentiation and sequencing would have been helpful when I lead a professional development session last winter on learning objects.  Although I had a firm grasp of the content I was presenting, I found that I had not thought enough about the sequencing of learning ahead of time and therefore needed to jump around a bit more than I would have liked.  Had I thought about each primary task as independent, I may have been able to present in a more organized fashion and may have had a more satisfying outcome.

Too narrow a focus in any field is not beneficial.  Just as doctor training in the past did not include how to relate to patients and how to communicate the cost of treatment to patients, so too must instructional designers broaden their scope of knowledge.  This openness to different perspectives is what has long made a liberal arts education so valuable.  Learning should be life-long and broad in order to make each professional the best they can be.

 

References:

Freifield, L. (n.d.).  Fostering behavior change: What are the best practices for creating and delivering training that results in lasting skill and knowledge uptake and permanent behavior change?  Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.trainingmag.com/content/fostering-behavior-change

Turner, B. and Croy, M. (2010). Waltzing with Da Vinci: The role of design thinking in project leadership. Project Management Institute.  Retrieved from http://www.pmi.org

van Rooij, S.W. (2010).  Project management in instructional design: ADDIE is not enough.  British Journal of Educational Technology,41(5), 852-856.  doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.00982.x

 

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