The Learning Circuit’s Blog Big Question of the Month is Instructional Design: If, when, and how much. It may seem like an odd question, but here’s an elaboration: “For a given project, how do you determine if, when and how much an instructional designer and instructional design is needed?” And this is an important question.
Partly, it depends on your definition of ID. An enlightened version is a performance system view, which includes job aids, rapid elearning, eCommunity, etc. A more typical version is a templated approach to courses. If you’re talking about this latter, it should be used when you’re designing courses, and otherwise stay out of the way (and be replaced by an enlightened instructional design that incorporates deeper cognitive understanding and emotional awareness, e.g. my two white papers on Enhanced ID and eMotional eLearning; warning, PDFs).
However, if you’re talking about the more overarching version, then I say it comes in early, makes a determination what the goal and desired resource is, and then decides whether to do a course, create a resource, let a SME loose on it (with or without a template), or leave it to the community (and sometimes take back from the community to design something anew).
I think there’s a role for strategically outlining the solution and then making a decision about how best to do it, and there’s a role for some design smarts in architecting portals, guiding SMEs, supporting communities to critical mass, etc. There’s also a time to let go, but it should be an informed decision, not an abrogation of responsibility.