What this Inquiring Instructional Designer Wants to Know

An ongoing discussion we have had at ETS and in the instructional design community has been how to communicate what we are doing. We have discussed different tools, communication flows and how many times we have to do it. But I am not sure we have discussed what information we need to know and why.

What and Why

Speaking from a purely selfish perspective, I am most interested in any information to answer any question a faculty member might ask. The key here is that an instructor may ask anything at all related to technology. For instance, last summer I spent most of my time developing an online course. But when the ANGEL/Blackboard merger was announced, I spent about 15 minutes my course instructor explaining that ANGEL was not going away any time soon and that Penn State would have a plan.

I knew key reassuring details because I bugged Jeff (thanks dude) and listened to the chatter on ANGEL message boards. Similarly, if an instructor asks me about blogs, I do give what information I know…then point them to blogs@psu.edu. However, being able to answer some questions has some benefits. One is that it might save the Blogs Support system another redundant question. The other is that it allows me to build some credibility with my faculty client that I do know “technology.” Strange, but true.

Finally, I tend to be interested in hearing about other projects so I have examples and strategies I can share on new projects. It’s also good to learn tips on what works and what to avoid. Surprisingly, I am interested in technologies that I’m not necessarily using yet. For instance, I have yet to be involved in any clicker courses…but you never know when that could change or if a clicker question will be asked or if I realize that clickers could be darned useful for a new project. I’m just saying….

What isn’t so important

Not to be snarky, but most of the information found in weekly reports aimed at managers is NOT that helpful. First, your manager pretty much knows what you are doing project wise – you don’t have to explain what the TWT Certificate (or whatever) is every week. I, on the other hand, may need a project catchup. Second the report is more focused on listing what as accomplished, sometimes at a microscopic level (how many consultations, what focus group was completed, when the next phase will be completed).

This IS important to the organization, and I have no objection to giving it and sharing it (and I even skim it). But am I surprised that no one besides my manager is getting back to me on a project? Not really. My to do list is just not that exciting…


This has been tricky. What I want is a forum where questions can be asked. In the past we had done round-robins in some meetings, but if everyone is zoning out even I agree that it’s not so effective. I do like that some meetings have evolved more into giving demos, and I hope this trend continues.

The problem is that if people aren’t interested in a topic, then attendance may be too low for a presentation to have an ROI for the presenter. So we can perpetuate a pattern that we live in our silos. But now that I think of it, this may be a problem that is beyond my control…

This entry was posted in Project Managment. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What this Inquiring Instructional Designer Wants to Know

  1. Don’t fool yourself – your manager needs project catchup as well! As for feedback – I have to agree that in our organization, we tend to focus on when things are not going well, and fail to acknowledge when they are.
    We need shoutouts more often!

Leave a Reply