Welcome to the completion of week seven as we progress through our 12-week service course, Instructional Design Service Course: Gain Experience For Good.

The focus this week was on drafting a design proposal, also referred to as a design plan. For the purposes of this course and for this stage of our design project, the focus was primarily on preparing a clear written overview of an early conception of the lesson design.

Given that ThinkingKap’s relationship with our customers is as a training partner, we often come in after the point where training is needed and at some level signed off on. That said, there are certainly cases where many of you need to make the business case for training, and as such, write a design proposal to pitch potential stakeholders and gain buy-in to move forward with a particular training initiative.

Design Proposal Elements

While this course discusses Instructional Design in general, it is predominantly within the context of academia and providing Open Educational Resources (OER) to aid in adult basic education.

As such, there is a specific structure and requirements for the design plan within this context. I wanted to make sure our blog posts in this ID series were more universal and related to those in the corporate sector as well. So, with this consideration, we will highlight specific sections of the proposal.

Lesson Title: While this certainly sounds straightforward enough, remember the old adage that you only get one chance to make a first impression. This goes for the potential participants in your course as well as the stakeholders who need to feel this course is necessary.

A couple things to keep in mind with your title:

-How well does the title reflect the content and skills this course addresses?

-If this course will be accessed via a Learning Management System: does the course title use keywords that will improve its likelihood of being found during user searches on this topic?

Abstract / Summary: The abstract should be a short written summary of your course to help others understand exactly what the purpose of your proposed course is. Target a very brief paragraph. It is helpful to craft a short “elevator pitch” that describes your course. Not only does this solidify the goal in your mind as the designer, but it will also help stakeholders understand why you are proposing this course and what the potential gains are if implemented.

Audience: This section should define the intended learners for your course. Is this intended for the entire organization? A specific department? Individuals across departments that perform a specific task or role? Both as a designer as well as an approver, it needs to be clear who stands to benefit from the creation of this course.

Learning Goals: An important part of the process of narrowing your course’s focus is defining the purpose and goals of your lesson. In contrast to the learning outcomes and objectives, the lesson goals broadly define what the learner should be able to achieve when the lesson is complete. In other words, what skills and knowledge do you want the participants to learn as a result of the lesson?

Course Length: In part, this gives a very high level inference to the time it will take to create the course. More so, it lets stakeholders know how long participants will be away from their desks in training. Again, since time is money, a one-hour training course will be generally be more palatable than a two-day class.

Prior Knowledge / Prerequisites: This explains what incoming skills or knowledge learners need to have prior to taking your course. This will help stakeholders understand who is eligible for your proposed course.

Learning Objectives: Written statements of specifically what you expect learners should be able to do after completing the lesson. Carefully articulated learning objectives will guide you on what to include in the lesson. Learning objectives are not just a list of topics, but describe knowledge, skills, and attitudes learners should develop by completing the lesson. Each objective should be specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic. It is key for stakeholders to understand the specific objectives of your course in order for them to sign off on its creation.

Lesson Topics: The lesson topic list informs the learner about what is covered in the course. These topics are context and content specific and ground the course in subject matter that is associated with the subject you have chosen. The topic area will help to frame your course, and should be relevant to your learners. When selecting course topics, think about your learners, and what real-world topics would be interesting and relevant to them.

Instructional Strategies and Activities: This one really depends on how hands-on your stakeholders are. In most cases, this topic is held over until the next step, a Design Document, which will we cover in the next blog in this series. If you are proposing to people outside of the Training department, it is likely you will not need to go into detail here. However, if you are pitching to other “educators” it may be that they want to understand your approach and, at a high level, how you expect to present information and achieve your objectives.

Proposed Budget: Almost any sign-off for creating training will require an understanding of what it will cost to create the course. If you are developing the entire course in-house, these are often made up mostly of “soft” costs, but may include the need to purchase additional content, software, or other components. If you plan to include any external resources to assist (narrators, graphic artists, eLearning developers, etc.) then you may need to get general bids from them to include here. Depending on the detail in your proposal, you may not have enough information to get firm numbers from external resources, but you should have enough in place to get ballpark estimates.

Design Proposal: A Starting Place

Depending on your specific situation, you may need more or less information than this to get training courses pushed through. Also, the more universal your course is (beneficial to large groups of people) and the more critical to work function your content is, the more likely you are to convince stakeholders they can’t live another day without your course.

The larger the scope of the project, the more information you are likely to need to justify the project.