Planning, Part I – Scope, Learner Characteristics, Constraints, Cost, Planning Document, and Style Manual
Planning is the important first step for any project. It is important to have a good understanding of what the project is all about in order to lead to smoother design and development, minimize the need for costly redesign, and ensure client satisfaction. During this phase, adherence to standards, ongoing evaluation, and good project management are still essential.
- Define the scope
- Who is to learn what?
- What level of competence is sought?
- What entry level skills are necessary?
- Identify learner characteristics
- General learner characteristics
- Educational level
- Reading proficiency
- Subject-related information
- Proficiency in prerequisite skills
- Interest in content
- Special needs
- Will any learners have physical disabilities?
- Are multiple languages required?
- General learner characteristics
- Establish constraints
- Hardware: specifications for Mac vs. PC, RAM, sound card, memory, etc.
- Software: operating system, browser, productivity software, or other specialist software needed
- Budget: including payment schedules, payment tied to deliverables, etc.
- Timelines: deadlines for both client and developer
- Client Responsibilities: materials, reviews, invoice payments, etc.
- Developer Responsibilities: tasks, requirement documents, and deliverables
- Content: major required characteristics of the content
- Permissions: legal constraints for materials used
Cost the project
- Content acquisition: hours to gather/learn content information
- Development of standards: hours to develop standards document
- Scripting: hours to produce a script of the content for client review
- Screens: number of screens sorted by complexity
- Underlying models
- Graphics: includes acquisition and development of graphics
- Video: original video can be expensive to produce
- Audio: less expensive than video, but still can be a significant expense
- Interactions: added time required for the development of more interactive content
- Questions of different types
- Manipulation of simulated objects
- Assembling products
- Playing games
- Data collection: data required for the assessment of learning, feedback for learners, or evaluation of the project
- Bookmarking: active and passive bookmarking if required
- Record keeping: preparation of necessary reports for administrators, instructors, or trainers
- Log on and registration: time to set up users to access the course
- Associated EPSS: development time for any required electronic performance support systems
- Software testing: hours for alpha and beta testing
- Project management: sometimes added as a fixed percentage to any project
- Clerical: sometimes included as overhead
- Packaging: some projects may require installation routines or materials
- Manuals/Instructions: in addition to preparation time, include the cost of printing, binding, and other associated costs
- Other out-of-pocket expenses: bringing in additional consultants, purchasing necessary software, etc.
- Overhead: usually calculated as a percentage of other costs; covers the costs of doing business that are not directly billable
- Project Summary: total the above costs into hours, expenses, overhead, salaries, and total salary overhead
Produce a planning document
This document will guide the various people involved in the project to manage their allotted time to adhere to the budget. Often designers spend a lot of time in early phases of the project leaving less time and resulting in lower quality work for the latter portions. This document can be broken down by weeks to minimize this potential problem.
The steps provided in the planning portion of this chapter will help keep me from designing too early and from missing an important step that I might regret later in the project. The cost portion of this chapter was interesting since I have never done any project management, but with my budget of $0 I doubt it will be very useful this semester. It will probably be a good idea to imagine I had a budget (and a team!) and what it would look like if this were a larger project.
I am still uncertain about the entire concept of the underlying models. It sounds like this might be something that could relate to my project so I might need to look into it further.