Deciding Upon Priorities: An ID Perspective

How does the role you assume influence your thinking and priorities at the beginning of an ID project?

Although the role of the ID has a great deal in common with the role of PM, both utilize a “systematic approach…engage in careful planning and focus on consistency as a means to deliver quality. Both try to establish problem-solving procedures to guide decision makings” (Lin, 2006, p. 10), there are some differences in terms of priorities and perspective.

All of our resources were very clear on this point, but Russell put it most succinctly: “The project manager has a broad perspective; he or she watches the entire forest, not a specific tree… The project manager keeps track of the gap between planned and actual time, cost, scope, and quality. The course developer, in contrast, focuses on creating the learning event” (Russell, 2000, p. 3). For instance, as the ID, I am concerned with needs analysis, learner characteristics, learning theory, task analysis, objectives, design, implementation and evaluation. Specifically, the iterative system of ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation). I am primarily LEARNER-focused. My independent successful outcome is defined by the learner’s success. Dr. Stolovich provides an apt analogy for the differing focus of roles likening the focus of an individual musician to that of an entire orchestra (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). However, as referenced, the Project Manager has the entire project (orchestra) to manage, not a single musician. The PM’s main priorities are planning, organizing and controlling the entire project (Russell, 2000; Portney, 2008). The end product is important, but the success of the project typically lies in the eyes of the STAKEHOLDERS (who are holding the purse strings), and not necessarily the learners.

This type of relationship is seen quite frequently in educational environments. For instance, the secondary teacher is focused primarily on the courses for which they are responsible, to the exclusion of broader, global concerns. The Department Chair, however, must be responsible for the entire department, as well as their own courses. Although running an educational department would not typically qualify as a “project” per se, the definitions are different and there is a non-terminating deadline (unless you consider the end of the year the deadline), in many ways the Department Chair is responsible for planning, organizing and controlling events within the Department. In addition, they are the liaison between various departments on campus, as well as the administration.

It is easy to see how conflicts can easily arise with these differing perspectives. For instance, as the ID I may prefer a longer analysis phase, but the PM could take issue with my extended time frame or the increased budgetary costs for doing so. As the ID, I may or may not, be aware of the full scope of the project. The technology expenditures I propose might seem reasonable on a small scale, but on a mass produced scale the costs could become prohibitive. Further, a proposal involving a blended instructional design may seem reasonable in one facility, while completely inappropriate in another. The Project Manager has the entire project in their purview and is able to asses these considerations more fully than the ID, unless or until the PM communicates them to the ID.

Despite the different possible perspectives, strong communication skills of both the ID and the PM can easily bridge any obstacles and challenges primarily because both persons are coming from a systematic foundation (Laureate, 2010). In addition, the outcome is important to all involved. It does not benefit the ID if the project fails miserably because they refused to toe the line. Vice versa, a PM completely ignorant of ID needs to be coached and educated so that they are aware of the many benefits of utilizing the ADDIE process, as well as the possible pitfalls for taking shortcuts.


Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom Ed.). Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Practitioner voices: Barriers to project success . Available from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Project kickoff . Available from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Project management and instructional design . Available from

Lin, H. (2006). Instructional project management: An emerging professional practice for design and training programs. Workforce Education Forum, 33(2). Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Lockitt, B. (2000). Practical project management for education and training. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Russell, L. (2000). Project management for trainers. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.


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