Friday, April 8, 2011

Analyzing Scope Creep

A major source of trouble with changes is typically that the project manager, in attempts to avoid bureaucracy, adopts an informal process of handling requests for change. Such leads to misunderstanding on the part of the party requesting the change, and before the project manager can undo the damage; the organization is committee to extending the scope of the project but without the additional resources and time to do it (Portny et al., 2008).

I recall a project where my organization set out to create electronic documents to help minimize the use of paper and to streamline some of our internal processes. Doing so would eliminate the time it took for documents to be completed by eliminating the use of mail and having a central repository for all completed documents so that items wouldn’t be lost. This was the original scope of the project. This began as an initiative just for one department. As the project went on and more departments heard about it, the list of forms to be created electronically grew exponentially. In addition to that, people started requesting that documents be created to use for external customers. This expanded scope created a number of issues. There was no change control process created so anyone on the project team was just creating documents with no guidelines. The documents were being generated for use outside the company without being reviewed and cleared by our legal group to ensure no unnecessary liabilities were being created. Lastly, there weren’t enough people resources on the team to keep up with the demand of requested forms that needed to be created.

I recommended that we scale back the scope and focus on one pilot department and a small list of forms. This would allow the group to handle the load and work out any identified issues prior to getting any other departments involved. The rest of the stakeholders weighed the benefits of this versus the disadvantages and decided that was the best course of action to take. Looking back on the situation, if I had been the project manager, I would have clearly defined the scope and all of the initial components of the project. This way all of the stakeholders would have clear and realistic expectations of what was to come and could anticipate some of the next steps. In this pilot it would have been best to outline a plan based on the results to implement the electronic form process in the other departments and allow for a more efficient transition that most, if not all, stakeholders could be satisfied with to meet their goals.

Sometimes projects can get off track very quickly because of poor communications between all of the parties involved, lack of proper identification of what is needed to achieve the groups objectives or even poor project management overall. This can lead to increased costs and failure of the project. However, if other aspects are considered as the scope of the project changes such as budget, other resources and the timeline or schedule of the project, scope creep should not occur.

Avoiding scope creep in not possible; however, monitoring it, controlling it, and thereby reducing some of the pain is possible-if the project manager follows a few guidelines... (Portny et al., 2008)


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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources: Budgets and Resource Allocation

What do you find the most challenging about estimating activity durations and resource costs?

Creating a comprehensive schedule is one of the more difficult activities that project managers face. Schedule creation is often considered more art than science, and results often support this. What is often more frustrating is that team members often find themselves on one team with a project manager that creates and manages schedules a particular way and on another team with a project manager with a different approach (Holohan, 2010).

Links -
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Holohan, R. (2010).6 Steps to Successful Schedules. Retrieved March 31, 2011 from

All about Dynamic Views for Readers

All about Dynamic Views for Readers

Friday, March 18, 2011

Communicating Effectively

  • How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?
  • What factors influenced how you perceived the message?
  • Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?
  • What are the implications of what you learned from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team?

Communication can occur by various means, each with varying degrees of richness (Daft & Lengel, 1984). At present, there are four basic communication modes utilized in the workplace: face-to-face meetings, audio or telephone exchanges, video-mediated conferences, and computer-mediated text transfers. Using media richness theory, McGrath and Hollingshead (1993) developed a grid of task and media fit to explain the moderating effect of task type on media richness and performance. Briefly, their model suggests that there is an optimal fit for the information richness required of a task and the media chosen to mediate that task. For example, text based computer messaging is a "good fit" for generating ideas, but not for negotiating conflicts; likewise, video systems offer the optimal level of richness for judgment tasks but are insufficient for negotiating tasks and too rich for generating ideas.

After reading the email, listening to the voice message and face-to-face interaction; although, each message had the same meaning, the delivery of the message will determine how the message is received, and there were no factors that affected my decision or reaction to the message.

I would rate face-to-face communication as more of a preferred choice of communication and not necessarily the better choice. Again, all three forms of communication have the same message but the delivery and interpretation may be different.

After reading and experiencing the communicative correspondences, my perception in regards to how messages are delivered, I don’t think that there is a better way, but depending on the circumstances of the situation, one of these forms of communication can be a by-product of the sender, but the interpretation is left up to the receiver.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The "Instructional Designer" role... EDUC-6145-1 Project Management in Education and Training

With consideration of the project management process and the tasks associated with the instructional design process: according to Dr. Harold Stolovitch, one critical difference between the instructional designer and the instructional design project manager is that, as an instructional designer you have to have good analytic skills and you have to be able to analyze the context, analyze your learners, analyze the tasks that need to be done, you got to be able to design and develop excellent instruction, verify that learning occurs, then the evaluation portion.

As a project manager all of those skills come into play as well but in a very different way, because the main thing here is managing resources, managing people, managing money and managing time and being an excellent communicator, verifying understanding so that everyone are singing on the same key. Those are the key differences, you focused allot on an orchestral leader role rather than an individual musician role (Project Management and Instructional Design).

In contrast, the comparison of the phases in project management and instructional design activities yields many similarities and a few differences: the comparison of project management and instructional design phases indicates the both adopt a systematic approach. Both engage in careful planning and focus on consistency as a means to deliver quality. Both try to establish problem-solving procedures to guide decision makings. Both decisions are made on the basis of a systematic and analytic framework. Arguably, instructional design must be expanded to include the value of project management as a tool (Lin, 2006).

In regards to, who should define the priorities of the project: both the people who requested the project and the project team, through the process of negotiation and discussion, should agree to all terms in the SOW before actual project work is started (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer (2008).

The key priorities will have to be in place before the initial project begins, of course there must be room for uncertainty, regardless of the scope and or goal of the project. My role as an instructional designer influences my thinking and priorities, at the beginning of an ID project by ensuring that the project falls within the timeline of completion and identifying the specific goals while addressing problems of the project during its design and development. I believe that my role falls under the functional employee or project team members’ category, because I would be the person responsible for successfully performing individual project activities (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer (2008).

Lin, H. (2006). Instructional project management: An emerging professional practice for design and training programs. Workforce Education Forum, 33(2). Reprinted by permission of the author.

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.

“Project Management and Instructional Design”
In this program, Dr. Harold Stolovitch discusses what project management is, why instructional designers must learn it, the difference between the roles, and how project managers can effectively manage their workload.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tips for Converting “Face-to-Face” instruction into a “Blended/Hybrid” format

Consider the following scenario: A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.

With this scenario in mind, and taking into consideration your Learning Resources, reflect on the following:
• What are some of the pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before converting his program?
• What aspects of his original training program could be enhanced in the distance learning format?
• How will his role, as trainer, change in a distance learning environment?
• What steps should the trainer take to encourage the trainees to communicate online?

Before the start of new implementation phase, the trainer should examine what is/isn’t currently working and or identifying the tasks that the learners could complete on their own. During this process the trainer could utilize the expertise of an SME or ID consultant. The learner should be the primary focus of the course development phase and too much emphasis on technology should not take place, because the goal is to make the learning process efficient and effect.

One can conclude, after examining the various tools and approaches for distance learning, that there is one primary purpose: to provide a valuable learning experience to students who might not otherwise have access to learning (Simonson, Smaldino, Alright, & Zvacek, 2009).

A blended learning approach combines face to face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities to form an integrated instructional approach. In the past, digital materials have served in a supplementary role, helping to support face to face instruction. In further consideration, creating high-quality blended instruction can present considerable challenges. Foremost is the need for resources to create the online materials to be used in the courses. Materials development is a time and labor intensive process, just as it is in any instructional medium. In addition, blended instruction is likely to be a new concept to many students and faculty (WIBL, 2009).

Furthermore, when designing or implementing a potential change process, the trainer and or person responsible for the change should consider various instructional models, as a follow-guide towards completion. For example, the Program in Course Redesign, funded by the Pew Foundation, has provided 30 institutions of higher education with funding to explore the potential benefits of blended learning in large-enrollment undergraduate courses. As part of the project, the PEW researchers created three models of blended instruction (WIBL, 2009); see the chart below:

• Supplemental Model
The supplemental model retains the basic structure of the traditional course and uses technology resources to supplement traditional lectures and textbooks. The supplemental model for blended learning incorporates technology into the instructional approach of the course, but does not alter its basic structure. Students may be required to complete online readings or activities, or participate in lab sessions. However, there is no reduction in course meeting time under the supplemental model; a three-hour course would still meet in-class for three hours per week.

• Replacement Model
The replacement model reduces the number of in-class meetings, or classroom "seat-time," and:
• replaces some in-class time with out-of-class, online, interactive learning activities
• makes significant changes in remaining in-class meetings.
Under a replacement model, there are fundamental changes to the course. Unlike the supplemental model, the online resources in a replacement model are fully integrated into the overall instructional effort. The online content acts as a replacement for time that would have been spent in a lecture hall. Consequently, the nature of the in-class activities is changed as well. Instead of traditional lectures, in-class time is freed for more interactive, collaborative learning experiences.

• Emporium Model
The emporium model eliminates all class meetings and replaces them with a learning resource center. This resource center, typically a large computer lab, offers access to course online materials in addition to live assistance and guidance. The emporium model is a radical re-conceptualization of the traditional course. Though attendance at the learning center can be required, there are no longer lectures in a traditional sense. Course content is delivered via online materials, and in-person help is provided in the learning resource center.

As a result of the desired change, the trainer will now be responsible for two roles, the face-to face- trainer and online instructor: please preview the video (FTF vs. OT) -

Dr. Piskurich (Facilitating Online Learning) describes ten traits of both the role of the facilitator in an online classroom and some effective ways that online education can be effective before its implementation.

1. Train the facilitator on the software that they and their students will be using: the technology should be transparent.
2. Review the lesson plan with the facilitator thoroughly, becoming familiar with e lesson plan and not be surprised. The instructor should present a consistent flow of delivery during a lesson presentation.
3. Recognize that student learn differently for different reasons: facilitators must keep in constant contact with students in the online environments; avoid disassociation and communicate with the learners.
4. PowerPoint should be used sparingly because it’s an un-engaging way to deliver content.
5. Activities and application are the heart of an online course.
6. The emphasis in the distance learning environments should be on activities opposed to the content itself; however, content is critical in order for the learner to meet the course objectives connected to the activities.
7. Instructional designers should develop good lesson plans; build time into the facilitation phase to thoroughly review the lesson plan/facilitation guide with the instructors.
8. When possible, involve facilitators in the course development process: don’t wait until the lesson plan is completed.
9. Provided a group training session for all facilitators who will teach the course.
10. A good instructional designer always plans to train the trainer, to ensure that the trainers can accomplish the goals and design of the implementation phase.

1. Dr. George Piskurich shares tips and tricks with instructional technologist Jacqueline Chauser for facilitating online courses to help learners get the most from the experience.

2. Face-to-face vs. online training. Retrieved from on 02/21/2011

3. Picciano and Dzuiban, (2007). Discovering and Designing Hybrid Courses" in Blended Learning Research Perspectives ed. Retrieved from on 02/21/2011.

4. Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

5. The Pennsylvania State University (2009). What is Blended Learning? Retrieved from on February 21, 2011.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Blog—The Impact of Open Source

Music -
MUSI 112 - Listening to Music, Fall 2008 - Professor Craig Wright

About the Course
This course fosters the development of aural skills that lead to an understanding of Western music. The musical novice is introduced to the ways in which music is put together and is taught how to listen to a wide variety of musical styles, from Bach and Mozart, to Gregorian chant, to the blues.

1. Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment? How so?
Answer: Yes. The course is dived into 23 sessions, from the introduction to the review of musical style. The components used in the course are; the syllabus, course calendar announcements, assignment instructions, learning objectives, student roster, etc. The content presentation ranges from media to pdf files for download. Another essential layout of the course is the student assessments (course evaluation tools). The online courses are designed for a wide range of people around the world, among them self-directed and life-long learners, educators, and high school and college students. The integrated, highly flexible web interface allows users, in effect, to audit Yale undergraduate courses if they wish to. It also gives the user a wide variety of other options for structuring the learning process, for example downloading, redistributing, and remixing course materials.

2. Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?
Answer: No. The course is not a course earned towards a degree; therefore, the course presents an opportunity for other learners to have an idea of the layout of an online classroom may function. In fact, Open Yale Courses provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the internet. The courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.

3. Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?
Answer: Twenty three sessions are included, within each session includes a class lecture (Transcripts, Audio and Video). Each session has a description of the course’s overview, informing each student of the purpose for scheduling the courses. Each course includes a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video accompanied by such other course materials as syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. The lectures are available as download-able videos, and an audio-only version is also offered. In addition, search-able transcripts of each lecture are provided.

This page lists frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the goals, scope, and production of Open Yale Courses.

1. Yale University 2010.