Instructional Design - Realistic Expectations

Apr 21, 2021

Hi Team!

How many projects are you typically actively working on at once?

What do you use to estimate eLearning project development time?

My supervisor has a background in organizational development and hasn't worked with an instructional designer, and I feel that they have unrealistic expectations for project turnaround time and how many projects can be balanced at once. I'm wanting to educate them on the process and timelines while balancing multiple projects, and was hoping to get a baseline or "norms."

I currently have 13 (yes, thirteen) projects on my plate of varying scopes and types. I'm finding I can only really focus on 1-2 at a time if I am going to put in quality work in a reasonable timeline.

Thanks in advance for any tips and help!

6 Replies
Ange CM

Hi Philip,  I usually do an excel spreadsheet with phases, tasks, avg. time, etc. But some people tend to glaze over - so  here's a hook to grab their attention  "How Long Does It Take .... " interactive module by Jackie van Nice  (it is old, but may be useful) and once you have them hooked and listening present the excel sheet. Or a storyboard layout could be useful. If it were me, I would think of the supervisor as the audience for a learning course, it may be easier to plan an approach to this with that in mind. Another thing you could do is start logging the hours you spend on each phase/project, that way you have a ready resource to rely on for future budget, timeline and scheduling.

Useful Links:

This is a slide share based on research, it goes into the details, it may be useful.

jpg. Useful to have in mind:)

Hope it helps.

Kristin Hatcher

Thing 1 is that 13 projects is way too many!

Thing 2 is that I have often found that non-instructional designers don't understand how massively long it can take to create an elearning course. They assume it should take the amount of time it takes to build a PowerPoint deck. Those of us on this forum know that is not the case. 

Obviously there are many different factors that go into estimating an elearning course. The Association for Talent Development has an estimate based on responses from their membership. To create one hour of elearning ranges from 48 hours to 155 hours on average, depending on the complexity needed. 

In my office we use the same estimates the Army uses, partially because the review and approval process is pretty extended for us (I work for the US Federal Government). I've attached their estimates in a screenshot, but essentially we estimate 200 hours to create 1 hour of elearning. 

The attachment shows what they estimate for creating 1 hour of "Interactive Multimedia Instruction (IMI)" depending on the complexity. For the Army, IMI can include Virtual reality, which may account for some of the higher-end estimates. 

Helen Dudley

Hi Philip

Yes, it can be tricky juggling lots of projects. One of the things I do is decide whether the finished project needs to be gold plated or whether tin or iron would be acceptable. While I always want to do the gold plated version, sometimes you have to lower your sights. If a course is only going to be completed by a small number of people I might go with tin or iron. If the course is going to be completed by, say, every new employee, then I go for gold.

Hope this helps.


Notice of Legal Status and Confidential Information: This electronic mail message and any accompanying attachments may contain information that is privileged and CONFIDENTIAL. If you are not the intended recipient you are advised that any use, review, dissemination, distribution or reproduction of the information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this document in error, please notify the sender immediately and destroy the message.