Design Document: A Necessity or Just Another Hurdle to Jump?

About DSA

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:

  • accomplish internal custom projects
  • train and educate their internal staff in Instructional Systems Development.

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Darryl’s tips are now conveniently organized not only by published date, but by these topics:

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  • Design Strategies
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Part 2 - Detailed Design Documents

PART 1 of our series on design documents, we looked at two levels of design documents: High-level design documents and detailed design documents.

The detailed design document builds on the work done in the high-level design document, but it goes beyond the plan for an instructional design project to what is called a “blueprint”.

The high-level design document is produced after, and as a result of, the analysis phase of instructional development. Detailed design documents or blueprints are produced towards the end of the design phase of the instructional design model, but before much development has occurred.

Save Time and Effort

We have found it saves time to modify or morph the high-level design document already created into the detailed design document. How do we do this? We make any changes to the existing high-level design document that are needed and then add more detail where appropriate.

This is especially true for the instructional strategies and activities areas as these are not usually detailed out in the high-level design document. We also create a more detailed narrative of the course or program in the blueprint as a result of feedback or decisions made during or after the review of the high-level design document.

Detailed Design Documents

A detailed design document serves as a blueprint for development. It specifies the training materials you are about to develop in enough detail that others can approve them and others can help develop them as a team. For example, if a video were part of the course being developed, the narrative for the video would include enough detail for those producing the video to actually develop the video.

You may also provide sample modules or lessons if the project is a large one to better gain the stake holders buy-in and to run early prototype testing.

How To Proceed

To create a detailed design document (blueprint) for your project, start by reviewing all the elements of the high-level design document to make any changes that may have occurred since it was written. Then add details describing the instructional program and all planned activities. It is also a good idea to provide approximate times for all activities and/or an agenda, especially for instructor-led training.

In part 3 of this series on design documents, we will look at the benefits and various circumstances that would affect the amount of effort and detail to be provided in either the high-level design document or the blueprint.

See you next time,