6145: Scope Creep

Describe a project, either personal or professional, that experienced issues related to scope creep.

In what seems like another life time, I was a librarian and curator for a historical society in NJ and the director of the historical society asked me to put together an exhibit on a local woman who was a woman’s activist. It was for Woman’s history month. I was also tasked to work with a women from the local library who had historical artifacts specifically on this woman.

What specific scope creep issues occurred?

There were several instances where we had scope creep. The purpose of  the exhibit was to use the artifacts we had and tell her story and explain the impact she had on the community(Paterson, NJ) during the woman’s rights movement. The project started to suffer from scope creep when the other women wanted to include random artifacts just for the sake of it. We started to lose focus and the narrative started to become to confusing.  I tried to explain that while yes, we had a great collection of personal items it was not the scope of the project. One of the major pitfalls of the project was when the director found a table that was supposedly an original table from the woman’s childhood home. However, there were no authentication papers and it was way over priced and out of state. The director was advised not to purchase the table because what was the point of purchasing a table that might have been from her house. Also, if we made the purchase of this table we would be spending half of our project budget and would be unable to make other purchase that were important to making the exhibit look professional. In the end as the director she had the final say and the table was purchased and the exhibit was not as successful.

Looking back on the experience now, had you been in the position of managing the project, what could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

If I was the project manager I would have done several things differently. Knowing the directors personality and erratic behavior I would have probably hide 20 % of my budget  as  Dr. Stolovtich had suggested (Laureate Education, n.d.). It would have given us enough cushion to purchase the table and still have the budget to purchase the other items that we needed to make the exhibit a success.

I would have also requested that if anyone involved in the project wanted to implement a change that is outside of our original scope I would request that they fill out a scope change request form. (Laureate Education, n.d.) Dr. Stolovitch explained that this form allows for a formal process and allows people to really consider the impact that this change would have on the overall project( budget, timeline, resources etc).   This  process would have hopefully allowed the other women to have took a minute to reflect on the true impact their changes would have and hopefully bring them back to reality. Some people might see this as busy work  but I think it would have avoided all of the arguments and resentment that followed these scope creep issues. It would also be apart of my formal change control system. Portny et. al., (2008),  explains that every project should have a formal change control system pg. 347). This would have allowed me to keep a better eye on the changes that were happening in the project, would have allowed all stakeholders to be informed of the changes in a formal manner and would have allowed us all to be on the same page.

 

References

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.a). Creating a resource allocation plan [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Monitoring projects [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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6145: Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

  1. Chapman Alliance Study, 2010: http://www.chapmanalliance.com/howlong/

 Brief description

I conducted a very simple search using just the phrase “Instructional Design Cost estimates” and found this really comprehensive study done by The Chapman Alliance that was conducted in 2010. This study is titled: How Long Does it Take to Create Learning? The survey was completed by 249 companies that include 3,947 professionals. In the study, the professionals were asked to identify how long it takes to create instructor led training as well as creating  elearning training.  The study also puts together itemized graphs of how long it will take to complete each task.

Evaluation

After I reviewed the study I recognized that the study was conducted by the same name as the website. Upon further searching, I discovered that Chapman Alliance is a small consulting firm. They provide a variety of services for hire such as one on one training, keynote speaking, advising and strategy development. They look like a legitimate firm, the only concern I have about the study is that in their study they do not provide their methods used or who exactly participated in their study. While I don’t think their information is inaccurate, the version that they have shared is definitely the condensed version and not as “scholarly”.

 Most helpful thing you found about each site & How you might use it

The most helpful part of this study is that it is pretty comprehensive when it comes to types of learning scenarios they provided. For example, they include a list of how long it will take to develop an elearning tool with no interaction vs elearning tool with some interaction vs a lot of interaction. This is really helpful to me because my course project case study is specifically about converting a face to face workshop to the online environment and it will give me tons of ideas of how long it would take to build out all of these activities for the online workshop. I can also see myself using this at work. These numbers seems so unreal to me and yet I can believe it because we are constantly underestimating how long its going to take us to complete an ID project. I can use this study and these numbers to provide my stakeholders with proof that professionals in the field are setting these standards.

 

2. Elearning Project Management Blog: https://elearningindustry.com/subjects/elearning-articles/elearning-project-management 

 Brief description

This blog is hosted on a larger website titled :  elearning Industry.  They have dubbed themselves as the largest online community of professionals in the elearning field. The website provides articles, elearning concepts, software collections and other resources. This particular section of the website focuses on project management tips. Several of the blogs posts that they include  time needed for development  and working within your budget 

Evaluation

What I like about these articles is that they come form a variety of professionals and that they are short an concise. Another authentic aspect of the website is that they are continuously looking for professionals to contribute and publish articles on the website. I think this is very helpful because you can get more perspectives this way.

 Most helpful thing you found about each site & How you might use it

What is most helpful about this website is that is is neatly organized and they include a search box on the website. This allows for easy location of material. I truly believe I will continue to review  the articles provided and subscribe to the general project management blog. I can use several of these articles to put my budget and resource allocation plan together.

EDUC 6145: Communicating Effectively

 

This exercise was very interesting and gave me plenty of opportunity to reflect on my communication skills. I do wish there was more context provided. The lack of context left me feeling like I am grabbing at straws when writing my critique. Below is a synthesis of my thoughts on the message in different modalities.

My interpretation of the message only slightly changed from the three different modalities. In many cases I always feel that documenting messages like this is always better. I thought Jane’s email was appropriate but I also recognize that it could have been perceived as having a sharp tone. In the email Jane, was understanding to Marks schedule/workload and she demonstrated that she could be flexible by asking to have just the data that she needed and allow him to send the whole report at a later time. Email is always hard to read with regards to tone. I could see many people taking her comments about his busy schedule and comments like “I really appreciate your help” as insincere and fake. However, the interpretation of the tone really depends on the relationship that these two individuals have.

After I listened to the voicemail it was clear that Jane was not insincere but sounded a little panicked. She tried to keep a professional tone but I sensed she was concerned and concluded that she might have asked for this report on several occasions at this point.

The biggest change in my opinion was after I viewed the face to face. Jane’s body language and her tone was so laid back that it really did not seem like she was that worried about receiving the report. Either that or she was trying to be too friendly but really needed the report.

I think this activity was supposed to imply the importance of using the correct tone and modality with regards to communicating your message. However, as stated earlier the lack of context really made it challenging to draw conclusions on which modality was supposed to convey the true message.

I am not sure if I directly learned anything significant about communication from this activity. I can say that while reviewing this video I also reviewed our course text and would say that Jane made the right call about putting this request in email because Mark might not review it in a timely fashion because he is in an all-day meeting and if Jane misses her deadline at least she has documentation to prove that the matter was out of her hands and she did her due-diligence. She also has demonstrated that she is holding others accountable for their responsibilities. While PM might not feel that they are in a position of authority if all of the stakeholders agree to participate in the project and accept everyone’s role then in turn they are also accepting that as the PM Jane will follow up with the people involved in the project (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer, 2008, pg. 299). Once again this scenario does not confirm that Jane is the PM or that Mark has agreed to his assigned responsibilities but if we make that assumption than it is clear Jane is trying to conduct herself in a professional manner as the PM. I guess I also learned that while it is important to be flexible as the PM, it is also important to convey a sense of important/urgency when communicating with others involved in the project. By doing this you are demonstrating the value of everyone’s tasks and explaining that missing deadlines has a great impact on the project and could result in others missing their deadlines (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer, 2008, pg. 300).  Jane did this by letting Mark know that his report is an important piece of the project that needs to be reported on. She convey this urgency by explaining that she needed data from him to include in her report.

 

References

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

EDUC 6145: Week 2- “Post Mortem”

 

Brief description of project

One of my first major projects as an Instructional Designer was to lead a project that would require our librarians to create electronic resources, which we call LibGuides. These LibGuides would provide support to our faculty for specific courses. Essentially these LibGuides are websites that use a specific platform that provides a template for making websites. As the project manager it was my role to make sure all 64 guides were created in a year’s time. Each librarian was responsible for the development of 4 guides. The entire process took over two years to complete and some of the LibGuides were not as high quality as I would have liked. I cannot say for sure but I don’t think our librarians are promoting these guides enough to our faculty. Looking back at this project, I would do things very different and now taking this course even though we are only two weeks in, I know there are so many things I could have done to improve the project.

What contributed to the project’s Success or failure?

Success

Launching the project-When we launched the project we made sure that there were “how-to” videos, templates with instructions, and completed examples developed that our librarians were able to refer to at their discretion.

One on one Support– Due the flexibility of my role, I was able to travel between all 9 of our campuses to provide one on one support to our librarians that needed support with specific aspects of the project. This level of support is something that they never received before and it was a real advantage of helping the librarians feels more comfortable about asking for help.

Failure

Too many Assumptions –One of the biggest reasons this project failed was we made too many assumptions about the skill level of our librarians. We only provided support with regards to following the template. We made assumptions that our librarians were comfortable with using the platform that created the LibGuides (websites). We later learned that our librarians were not as familiar with this tool and many hours were spent on them just learning how to use the tool.

Another technology assumption that we made was that we figured all of our librarians knew how to use the screencasting tool, camtasia. It was a tool that we have had access to for over three years. This was one of the most time consuming aspects of the project. Since many of our librarians did not know how to use the tool, I had to meet with them and help them create almost every welcome video for every course.

 No input/buy-in

We also did not identify all of our stakeholders in this process. It was a very top down approach. Our direct supervisor asked us to create something and we did but we did not seek input in from any of the other 16 librarians. I think our librarians understood the reason and value for creating these LibGuides but they were not invested because they did not have a say in the design or implementation process. As Greer (2010), explains at the design phase it is important to have a series of conversations with the stake holders, have everyone commit and include a kickoff meeting ( pg. 10). We did not follow any of those steps. We basically just told them what they needed to do via email.  Reflecting on it now it was probably perceived as a “bomb” being dropped on them.

Which parts of the PM process, if included, would have made the project more successful?

 

More detailed schedule

We did not have a detailed schedule. We just said ok we are not going to baby you. You have one year to complete your assigned guides. That was it. These LibGuides(websites) had many pieces that needed to be included and looking back at it now we could have probably created a schedule that broke down each part of the LibGuide.

More check in meetings

We did not have system wide “check in” meetings. We wanted to take a personal approach and contacted each librarian individual to see how their LibGuide creation was going. My co-PM on the project and I had an internal schedule of when we would check in with each librarian but this schedule was not known to the librarian and to them our emails might have seemed very random. We could have created a detailed check in schedule.

Buy-in from the design phase

I truly believe that if we included the librarians in at the design phase we could have received their buy-in on the project and it would have been more successful.  If we had included them, I think we could have avoided our assumptions since we would all be discussing the roles of everyone involved and the schedule. If we had done this we would have learned that not every was on the same level in terms of their website building skills (Portny et al, 2008, pg. 78).

Develop an implementation strategy

We also never had an implementation strategy. Greer(2010), explains that as a part of the post mortem during phase V, there should be an implementation phase that includes, getting feedback, a strategy for implementing the project and the hand off of the guides (pg. 43).  We did not do any of these things. If I could go back I would have developed a plan that would include ways librarians should be using and promoting these resources. I would have solicited more feedback from faculty and tried to incorporate their revisions into the design when possible.  I would have also made a strategy for how to maintain the LibGuides after they have been created. Hindsight is 20/20.

On a final note, as an instructional designer in my department, I am frequently asked to be the PM on projects and I am very grateful that I will be able to learn so much from this course and hopefully avoid the mistakes that I made with this project.

 

References

Greer, M. (2010). The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects. Retrieved on May 10, 2016 from https://class.waldenu.edu/bbcswebdav/institution/USW1/201660_02/MS_INDT/EDUC_6145/Week%202/Resources/Week%202%20Resources/embedded/pm-minimalist-ver-3-laureate.pdf

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

EDUC 6135: Reflections on the Future of Distance Learning

Future perceptions of distance learning

I believe the perceptions of distance learning will be more accepting in the future. In twenty years from now, all of the traditional college students will be from a new generation that grew up using technology at home, for fun and in school. They will not be worried about how to navigate these types of technologies since they will most likely encounter them in their K-12 education.  This opportunity to practice with these tools will directly result in their acceptance of online learning (Laureate Education, n.d.) It will also be more accepted because even the “none traditional/continuing education” students will have encountered using a computer and other technology devices.

Improving societal perceptions of distance learning

As an instructional designer I think a few of the ways I can improve societal perceptions of distance learning is sharing my experiences and provide more training to my faculty.

Sharing my experiences

I really do believe that if you can demonstrate the value of something enough it will start to become an accepted practice or at least something that others are willing to explore. As an instructional designer, I would like to share my experiences of both being a student and facilitator of online learning. I think sharing these experiences can be conversation starter and allow others to be exposed to concepts and ideas they have not experienced themselves. A perfect example of this would be the orientation course we had to create for this course. Just a few weeks ago I was in a meeting where we were discussing how to improve our honors students understanding of their honors thesis project and because of my experience with this course, I was able to share the idea that perhaps we should create an orientation course for them to complete. At first my colleagues did not see the value in developing the course, however, I was able to share my knowledge and explain that this orientation course would be grounded in distance education theory, organized using instructional design techniques and most of all prepare the students for the year ahead. I am pleased to say that I am now in the process of developing that orientation course.

Training

I think many instructors are afraid to become a facilitator in distance education because they are not sure they have the skills they need and they are unsure of how their onsite content will translate online. One way that I can change that perception is to provide training opportunities. In this course we have learned many aspects of online learning. We have learned about the needs and roles a learner must take to be successful in distance learning, what the role of the facilitator is online and how to use instructional design techniques to develop and deliver distance education courses.  The training programs I could offer are endless. There could be session on distance learning theories that include Knowles, Holmberg, and Keegan and cover a wide range of topics such as how online learners need to be:

  • Self- motivated & Autonomous( Holmberg as cited by Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek, 2015, pg. 47)
  • Interact with peers and facilitator(Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek, 2015, pg. 197)
  • Share their prior knowledge (Knowles as cited by Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek, 2015, pg. 48)

These are just a few examples of training opportunities I could be provide to faculty.

Being a positive force for continuous improvement

I will be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education by using technology effectively, finding a way to make distance education more engaging and creating quality educational experiences that close the gap between online and traditional learning. When developing online courses or even online learning opportunities I will keep in mind that using technology just for the sake of using technology is not a best practice. The use of that technology will be intentional and  follow many of Bates 12 “Golden rules” for using technology(Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek, 2015, pg. 147) including but not limited to: making interaction essential, creating a quality design, recognize there is no such thing as a super-technology and remember that professional design is important.

If I have learned anything from completing this program, I have learned that student engagement still has a long way to go in online learning and I look forward to contributing to that experience beyond the typical discussion board. Theories have recognized the need for student interaction but they seem to fall short in my books. I look forward to being able to gain access to newer technology, creating alternative assignments and breaking away from the typical set up of an online course.

Lastly, as we have seen in many articles, readings and even our week eight discussion interviews, many people are still not convinced that a distance education means a quality education. As an instructional designer I plan to change that perception by following standards such as Quality Matters, keeping graphic design principles in mind and demonstrating that online learning is not only equivalent to face to face learning but is can actually be a more fulfilling experience.

 

References

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). In Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Task Analysis and Instructional Objectives Matrix

The Task Analysis and Instructional Objective Matrix was designed to ensure that the orientation course was developed with purpose. This process has allowed for several instructional decisions to be made that include: the organization of the orientation, the learning objectives and theories that support them. One of the most important aspects of developing this matrix was populating the training boxes. This exercise allowed for meaningful reflection on the use of a technology in the classroom and in the online environment. See full matrix by clicking on link below.

Task Analysis and Instructional Objective Matrix

As I continue to develop my orientation course this matrix will prove to be an invaluable resource. This matrix will allow me to make sure that each module, link or tutorial is serving  its purpose and fits within the scope of the project.