Kickoff Instructional Design Questions


Some people collect Beanie Babies and others collect Shopkins. I have always been a collector of questions, but for some reason asking the “scripted ID questions” sometimes eludes me. Instead, I will tend to ask questions that fit naturally into the dialogue.

However, conversations with stakeholders or SMEs can sometimes spin a web, and by the end of the meeting there are many unanswered questions. It’s always best to let them know that you will need more time as the project unfolds and schedule additional time at that moment.

Regardless of my intent, there are some talkers in the world that just catch me in a web of confusion. Sometimes, I wonder if that is the underlying goal. Is it a way to avoid diving deeper and not just being an order taker.

Manager: “I need training for Karen.”

ID: “Okay, I’d be happy to solve your problem. Do you mind if I ask some questions to understand this problem more? I would like to ensure I am providing with the best possible solution(s).”

Manager: “Karen just needs training. Let’s focus on getting here what she needs.”

At any rate, I am a hoarder of ID-related content and questions are on my mind currently. And so, I wanted to write this post in the spirit of sharing.

Allen Interaction’s  Questions

Not as visually stimulating as the slideshow above but this cuts to the chase.
  1. What do you expect learners to be able to DO after completing the course that they can’t do now?
  2. What are the consequences TO THE LEARNER if the learner fails to master the intended outcomes?
  3. Can you show me an active demonstration, a detailed simulation, or provide an opportunity to directly observe the desired performance?
  4. What specific performance mistakes do new learners regularly make?
  5. What tools, resources, job aids, or help do successful performers (or even experts) use to do these tasks?

Cathy Moore’s Questions

These are the basic questions related to her Action Mapping framework.

  • What business change do you want to create?
  • Why do we care about this goal?
  • Who much needs to change and by when?
  • What actions/behaviors do people have to do in order to accomplish this business goal?
  • Why aren’t people already taking action to accomplish this goal?
  • Will training really solve the problem?
  • What practice activities will promote the actions/behaviors needed to accomplish the goal?
  • What do people really, really need to know? What is the minimum information needed to perform the activities?
  • Is a course needed or can a something as simple as a job aid assist the learning?

Christopher Pappas’ Questions

Mr. Pappas’ questions focus on analyzing an eLearning audience and they come from the post entitled, 6 Key Questions To Effectively Analyze Your eLearning Course Audiences.

  1. What is the primary goal or objective of your eLearning audience?
  2. What are your learners’ educational background and/or learning abilities?
  3. When and where will the learners be learning?
  4. What information and skill-sets will the learner need to acquire?
  5. What are your audiences’ technical requirements (or limitations)?
  6. What is your audiences’ learning preferences?

Cammy Bean’s Questions

These were from her fairly recent book The Accidental Instructional Designer.

  1. What do you want people to be able to do?
  2. What are the three key takeaways that you want someone to get out of this program?
  3. What mistakes do people most commonly make?
  4. Where do they get things wrong?
  5. Can you tell me a story about this content?
  6. How did you get into this area of expertise?
  7. What mistakes have you made along the way?
  8. Where should people go for more help and information?

Megan Torrance’s Questions


  • How long has the PLP (i.e. learner) been with the company?
  • How often will the PLP apply what he has learned in the course?
  • Has the PLP taken e-learning courses before?
  • What type of computer does the PLP typically use?

Relevant Job-Related Information

  • What other skills and abilities does the PLP have?
  • How open to change is the PLP?
  • Who does the PLP interact with daily?
  • How far does the PLP commute to work?

Course-Related Questions

  • How much training and experience does the PLP have with this topic?
  • How does the PLP use social media?
  • What other types of professional development does the PLP do?
  • What is the PLP’s preferred learning medium?

Personal Information

  • Who would play the PLP in a movie about her life?
  • What bad habit is the PLP trying to give up?
  • What is the PLP’s biggest pet peeve?

Articulate’s Questions 

Articulate’s eBook 9 Steps to Better eLearning Project Management offers the following questions to kickoff a learning project and to ensure that eLearning is the right solution.

  1. What problem are you trying to solve?
  2. What makes you think this is a problem?
  3. Why do you think online training will address the issues?
  4. What do you expect as an outcome of this course?
  5. What types of change in performance would you like to see learners

Basic Gap Questions

  • What is? And what should be?
  • What is you ideal state?
  • If you had a magic wand to wave over your problem how would it be fixed? What would it look like?

Performance Consulting Questions

Found here at the following source from the 70:20:10 forum.

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Who is involved?
  3. What is happening now?
  4. What do we want to happen?
  5. What is the cost of the gap?
  6. What are the causes and potential solutions?
  7. Action Plan (Who? What? Where?) 

Consulting Questions for Success

These questions comes from your Consulting Success and comes more from the outside of an organization.

  • What was the main reason that you wanted to meet with me?
  • What is your number one priority for this business unit during this fiscal year?
  • What do you believe needs to be strengthened in order to support achieving this?
  • Is there anything that you or your employees are doing that may be getting in the way of achieving this result?
  • What is unique about your business compared to your competitors?
  • Who will be making the final decisions on this project and who will be in charge of implementation?


In the end, I feel the best approach regardless of the questions you ask is to start listening. Don’t talk too much or give ideas for solutions. I sometimes start by framing the discussion that way. That I like to take it all in before I suggest a single solution. Clients need to reveal their problem from their perspective, but also think of ways to look at the problem from other perspectives.

Let me end with a question. What other questions should be listed here?

About @hoosier_teacher

Instructional Designer, I help make sense of workplace, work, and worker interactions in order to create comprehendible and practical training programs.