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Identify a designer's project management responsibilities

“What project management responsibilities do learning designers fill?”

“What key project management knowledge and skills do learning designers need to develop?”

“What additional resources are available to help designers improve their project management skills?”


Depending on the structure of an organization or project team, learning designers may be asked to fill project management roles in addition to their design work. These responsibilities encompass various aspects, such as stakeholder management, scope definition, project planning, and evaluation. In addition to these responsibilities, learning designers also need to develop a range of key project management knowledge and skills to effectively navigate the complexities of instructional design projects. This includes understanding best practices and common pitfalls to avoid when managing such projects. To support their professional growth, learning designers can leverage a wide range of additional resources available to enhance their project management skills.


Through this lesson, you should be able to identify key responsibilities of an instructional designer in managing learning projects.



What project management responsibilities do learning designers fill?


When wearing the “hat” of a project manager, learning designers may be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Create a stakeholder management and communication plan: Managing stakeholders is crucial for the success of any project, and learning designers play a pivotal role in this aspect. You will need to identify the project's key stakeholders, including subject matter experts, clients, learners, and other relevant parties. By understanding their needs, expectations, and roles within the project, you can develop a stakeholder management and communication plan. This plan will outline how you will engage with stakeholders, communicate project progress, address concerns, and manage feedback effectively. Regular and transparent communication ensures that all stakeholders are aligned and engaged throughout the project lifecycle.

  • Define the scope and critical success factors for a learning project: Before embarking on any instructional design project, it is essential to define its scope and critical success factors. Learning designers are responsible for collaborating with clients and subject matter experts to clearly outline the project's objectives, deliverables, and limitations. By establishing a well-defined scope, you can effectively manage expectations and avoid scope creep, ensuring that the project stays on track and within the allocated resources. Additionally, identifying critical success factors allows you to determine the key metrics and outcomes that will indicate the project's success.

  • Develop comprehensive waterfall and agile project plans and tools: Learning projects can vary in their complexity, timelines, and requirements. As a learning designer, you must be adept at developing project plans using both waterfall and agile methodologies, depending on the project's specific needs. Waterfall methodology follows a sequential approach, with each phase completed before moving onto the next. Agile methodology, on the other hand, emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and iterative development. By understanding and utilizing these methodologies, you can select the most suitable approach for each project and create comprehensive project plans and tools. These plans outline the project's tasks, timelines, resource allocation, and milestones, enabling effective project tracking and progress monitoring.

  • Design a process for evaluating the success of a learning project: Continuous improvement is a vital aspect of instructional design projects. Learning designers are responsible for designing a process to evaluate the success of a project and identify areas for improvement. This process involves gathering relevant data and feedback, conducting assessments, and analyzing the project's impact on learners and organizational goals. By systematically evaluating the project's effectiveness, you can identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for enhancement. This information informs future design iterations and contributes to the overall improvement of instructional design practices.


In summary, learning designers play a critical role in project management throughout the instructional design process. By creating stakeholder management and communication plans, defining project scope and critical success factors, developing comprehensive project plans and tools, and designing evaluation processes, they ensure that learning projects are executed efficiently, meet stakeholders' expectations, and drive continuous improvement in the field of instructional design.


What key project management knowledge and skills do learning designers need to develop?


To excel in project management as learning designers, there are several key knowledge areas and skills they need to develop:

  • Project planning and organization: Learning designers need to develop skills in project planning, including defining project scope, creating work breakdown structures, establishing timelines, and setting realistic milestones. Effective organization and time management are crucial for keeping projects on track and ensuring timely completion.

  • Stakeholder management: Learning designers interact with various stakeholders, including clients, subject matter experts, instructional technologists, and learners. They should possess strong communication and interpersonal skills to effectively collaborate, manage expectations, and address feedback and concerns.

  • Risk management: Learning designers should be able to identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. They need to anticipate challenges such as resource constraints, technical issues, or changes in project scope, and have contingency plans in place to minimize their impact on project outcomes.

  • Team collaboration and leadership: Learning designers often work in multidisciplinary teams. They need to foster collaboration, inspire creativity, and lead project teams effectively. Strong leadership skills help in motivating team members and resolving conflicts that may arise during project execution.

By developing these project management knowledge areas and skills, learning designers can successfully plan, implement, and evaluate learning projects, ultimately creating impactful and engaging educational experiences.


What additional resources are available to help designers improve their project management skills?


There are various resources available to help designers improve their project management skills. Here are some valuable resources:

  • Online courses and training: Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Project Management Institute (PMI) offer a wide range of online courses and certifications specifically focused on project management. Look for courses tailored to creative industries or instructional design to gain relevant insights and skills.

  • Webinars and podcasts: Participate in webinars and listen to podcasts that focus on project management in the context of design and learning. These platforms often feature industry experts sharing their insights, experiences, and practical tips.

  • Professional development workshops and conferences: Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences focused on project management or related fields. These events offer opportunities to learn from industry experts, participate in hands-on activities, and engage in discussions with peers.

  • Project management books: There are numerous books available that cover project management concepts, methodologies, and best practices. Some recommended titles include "The Project Management Book" by Richard Newton, "Project Management for Instructional Designers" by Wiley and Son and "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)" by PMI.

  • Project management associations and communities: Joining professional associations and communities related to project management can provide access to resources, networking opportunities, and knowledge sharing. Examples include the Project Management Institute (PMI) and its local chapters, the Association for Talent Development (ATD), and the eLearning Guild.

  • Project management tools and software: Familiarize yourself with project management tools and software that can assist in organizing and managing projects effectively. Tools like Asana, Trello, Jira, and Microsoft Project provide features for task management, collaboration, and resource tracking.

  • Mentoring and coaching: Seek out experienced project managers or mentors who can provide guidance and support as you develop your project management skills. They can offer valuable insights, share real-world experiences, and provide personalized advice.


Remember, continuous learning and self-improvement are essential for enhancing project management skills. Explore a combination of these resources to find the ones that best suit your learning style and professional goals.


Summary and next steps


In this lesson, the project management responsibilities of learning designers were explored. They encompass creating stakeholder management and communication plans, defining project scope and critical success factors, developing comprehensive project plans and tools, and designing evaluation processes. Learning designers need to develop key project management knowledge and skills, such as goal and scope definition, stakeholder engagement, effective communication, and proficiency in both waterfall and agile methodologies. To enhance their project management skills, they can utilize additional resources like frameworks, tools, online courses, professional communities, and mentorship programs.


By fulfilling their project management responsibilities, developing essential skills, and leveraging available resources, learning designers can effectively manage learning projects and contribute to the success of instructional design solutions. Their expertise enables them to align stakeholders, deliver quality outcomes, and continuously improve their project management capabilities in the ever-evolving field of instructional design.


Now that you are familiar with identifying a designer’s project management responsibilities, continue to the next lesson in LXD Factory’s Manage projects series: Manage stakeholder relationships.

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