I have learnt, through trial and error, that instructional design is as much about project planning as it is about knowing about edumacation. Sadly, this is even more true when I am “the team.”
A lot of professionals have encountered MS Project, the industry-preferred project planning software package. It’s a robust, comprehensive, and challening tool: many peepees (project planners) take many months to get up to speed on the application. But if you’re managing a team project, multiple resources, with a fair degree of complexity, MS Project can be a lifesaver.
Except when Project becomes more important the project. I’ve worked in teams where meetings were consumed with reviewing the peepee line by line by line by line by line…you get the idea. This killed the bandwidth of the meeting, leaving little space to discuss idea, issues, concerns, kudos. A lot of us dreaded these meetings as a result.
My approach is different. I used peepees to map out tasks and processes and ownership. I then use my peepee in the back end to keep the project on task outside the meetings. When appropriate something flagged in the peepee is discussed in the meeting (like a significant restructure or timeshift) of course.
And of course, like many MS offerings there’s no Project for us Mac folks. There are a number of similarly constructed analogues, though: Merlin and Omni Plan are to my mind the best on offer. I’m using Omni Plan, largely because I don’t need some of the über-sophisticated funcationality of Merlin (which is almost exactly MS Project in terms of what it can do), and I saved about $90 going with Omni’s application. Both have academic/educational pricing options–email their sales teams if you’re interested.
Already I’ve developed a generic course development template and am using it with 4 new projects. Ask me in May (2 launches), September (1), and January (1) how well Omni Plan worked!