Thursday, June 03, 2010

How much "design" for the instructional designer?

When it comes to the instructional design in the context of traditional elearning development, how much of the concept design should the ID be suggesting, or to put it another way, how much of the visual design should be left entirely to the graphic designers and developers?

As an instructional designer I often have thoughts on how to present the information I am trying to arrange and I usually try to communicate these by means of rough sketches and crude diagrams - either as pen sketches captured on my phone camera or as crude diagrams cobbled in PowerPoint if I want to play around with layouts. My reason for doing so is that, as the old saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words, and frankly I can't be fagged writing out an idea when I can far more easily summarise the suggestion in a couple of lines. I'm always as pains to make clear that these are ideas to try to get across a concept.

However, sometimes the results from these suggestions are returned to me in far too literal interpretations of my diagram. If this was a one off, then I'd write it off as an individual response, but it's happened with a couple of designers. So what am I doing wrong?

Do designers and developers prefer to work from the raw data, so I give them the content and outcome and say "do your best", or do I have to give more detailed ideas about how to get a fancier finish? Does my attempt to be helpful in providing ideas actually have the counter-productive result of hemming in the thought processes of the developers? How do I encourage designers/developers to pick up the phone/fire up Skype and just run an idea past me before they commit it to the screen? Should I accept that there is something intrinsically wrong in my development approach or write it off as desperately bad luck that I encounter the same problem with different developers? Am I actually just expecting too much to get a whole course back without any significant problems at all?

I'd dearly love to know what other people do to manage this.

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