Design Document: A Necessity or Just Another Hurdle to Jump?
Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:
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- train and educate their internal staff in Instructional Systems Development.
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Part 1 – What are they? When do we use them?
Design documents are like the architectural concepts, “plans” and “blueprints”. In the design and development of training and educational products, we often refer to these two concepts as High Level Design Documents (plans) and Detailed Design Documents (blueprints). The high-level design document is produced after, and as a result of, the analysis phase of instructional development. In part one of this tip, we will look at high-level design documents and in part two, we’ll take a look at detailed design documents. Part 3 will illustrate their benefits, when to use them and when they may not be needed.
High Level Design Documents
A high level design document is defined as an overview of the instructional program that shows how all the elements fit into the appropriate delivery system. The design document gives the big picture. It specifies the training materials you are about to develop to such an extent that others can determine the sequence of instruction and envision what the learner will experience in each component of your program.
The purpose of this document is to present the initial instructional analysis for a course or program. The aim of this analysis is to establish a shared set of principles and standards for the course or program. This analysis looks at the course or program from these three cascading perspectives:
- Business/Organization Need: The business need describes why sorganizations send employees to a course, and why employees go to a course.
- Course Goals: The course goals describe what members of the target audience want to be able to do on the job after completing the course.
- Key Objectives: The key objectives describe the specific behaviors that learners will be able to perform upon conclusion of the course. Each key objective may include a list of enabling objectives that describe, in behavioral terms, the knowledge and skills required to achieve it. The enabling objectives may not be included in the high level design document if the training program is longer, but must be included in the more detailed design document later.
Other items to include would be:
- Learner characteristics and context considerations: These must also be accounted for in the high-level design document.
- Learning Experience Description: Each unit/day or module of the course is described here in narrative form. These are high-level descriptions of the way the designer is translating the results of the analysis into a design for the learning experience.
In part 2 of this 3-part series we will discuss how and when to use Detailed Design Documents.