Blog Assignment: Analyzing Scope Creep

In my current workplace, we set yearly personal professional goals. One of my goals was an open-ended project; I was to pick a project to be completed before year-end. I brainstormed some ideas and decided upon, funny enough, course project management for course designers. The project would consist of collecting project tools other course designers and developing some “tip” and “example” resources for newer course designers to access and utilize if they wish.

Scope creep occurred when I decided to run my idea by my team lead to get their feedback on the topic. In response, they acknowledged the topic idea was great and provided me with five other topic areas to also develop “tip” and “example” resources for. Without going into deep detail, the other topic areas were great topic areas to develop material for, however, some topics strayed away from project management. I requested a discussion (as this correspondence was through email prior) via phone with my team lead to address my concerns about adding topics that didn’t quite fit what my personal goal was trying to achieve. They understood and we agreed to widdle the list down to my initial course project management and three of her suggested topics.

So, looking back on the experience, I think I did a great job at identifying the scope creep before it affected the project once the timeline and tasks were set. As we have learned, during a project, scope creep can delay the project from completion, alter tasks, effect budgets, etc.

Tiffany

Blog Assignment: Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

As we have learned, after the project tasks have been identified, we then need to calculate how long each task will take to complete. When examining each task, the project manager and team members need to consider three things: resources, effort, and duration (Greer, 2010). A schedule, or project calendar, is an important tool to emerge from this process and these considerations. A tool I found that would be an excellent resource for creating and managing a project schedule/calendar was Microsoft Office Project. This is a program that allows users to organize and link tasks to great project plans and timelines, measure progress and resource allocation, and utilize Gantt charts (Microsoft, 2015). Although the project must be purchased to use, from my browsing of the features and descriptions on the website, the tool seems to be relativity easy to use and can provide sophisticated project timelines for project use to closely monitor activity duration. The next tool I found is an open source resource (can’t beat free on a budget!) called OrangeScrum. Considered a more modern project management tool, one of this software’s features is resource planning (Muilwijk, 2015). This is an excellent tool and feature because resources are important items to be accounted for as they represent the people, equipment, and materials to complete each task in the project schedule/calendar (Greer, 2015).

Tiffany

References:

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Microsoft. (2015). Project Standard. Retrieved from https://products.office.com/en-us/Project/project-standard-desktop-software

OrangeScrum. (2015). The Easiest Project Management Tool. Retrieve from http://www.orangescrum.org/

Muilwijk, R. (2015). Top 5 open source project management tools in 2015. Retrieved from http://opensource.com/business/15/1/top-project-management-tools-2015

Blog Assignment: Communicating Effectively

As the message was delivered in the different formats (email, voicemail, and face-to-face), it became more personable. I perceived the email tone to be more about Jane and what her wants and needs were. Eliminating all of the “Is” and “needs” would make the tone more business friendly and probably more effective. When it moved on to the voicemail, the context appeared less self-centered. When presented face-to-face, the context also appeared less self-centered and the individual was more personable because you could hear the friendly tone and see the friendly facial expressions.

As described in our text, successful project management weighs heavily on effective communication. During the project, sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner is very important (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008). And as demonstrated in this exercise, communication can be delivered through different channels. With these different forms of communication, it is important when working with others to keep in mind that tone can change the perceived meaning of a message (New Charter University, 2015). As a team member, it is important that the tone is as positive as possible to keep the team environment a positive one.

This thought is also my take away from this exercise, to keep tone in mind as well as considering what method would be most effective when working with others. If something is urgent, like it appeared to be, a face-to-face conversation may be more efficient and effective in receiving the appropriate items from the other team members. If warranted, an ad hoc team meeting may be appropriate. These types of meetings are held for team member to address problems/issues as they occur (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008).

Tiffany

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.

New Charter University. (2015). Different Types of Communication and Channels. Retrieved from https://new.edu/resources/different-types-of-communication-and-channels–5

Learning from a Project “ Post-mortem”

The example I will use for this assignment will be a work project. When I joined the course design team at my company, I was placed by my boss on a project with other members to develop an overview course about a specific learning management system (LMS). This project was being completed so that course designers would become more familiar with the system for their course builds. The other team members had been working on the project for a few weeks by the time I was added to the project team; so some work had been done on the project.

The project was successful but it took a re-work of the planning stage to ensure the project’s success. As we have learned, the planning stage is imperative because it set the foundation for the project by defining such things as objectives and best actions to attain those objectives (Lin, 2006). Prior to joining the team, there wasn’t a team member that was extensively familiar with the LMS. Adding a member to the team to act as a “SME” of sorts was greatly beneficial in determining the scope of the project. Such person should have been identified and included in the planning stages of the project if not included among the current members, because of the late addition, some items that had been developed had to be redeveloped or revised because the scope was not properly defined. This in turn created almost an unintentional, but necessary, scope creep because new ideas were brought in after I was added and the scope was redefined.

Tiffany

References:

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

The Impact of Open Source

For this post, I chose the Open Course website Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE). Stanford’s Open Course website includes courses such as Introduction to Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Electrical Engineering (Stanford University, 2015). The course I selected to review was CS223A – Introduction to Robotics (https://see.stanford.edu/Course/CS223A).

As I started to review the course, I quickly realized that the course was taken from the traditional classroom and put online. What gave this away was the first lecture video was of the instructor standing in front of a lecture hall talking to “actual” students. As we have learned in our textbook, distance courses previously taught in the traditional classrooms may need to be reworked to be delivered at a distance and the “focus of the instruction must shift to visual presentations; engaged learners; and careful timing of presentations of information” (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). After digging further into the course, there were documents with office hours, TA names, etc. that weren’t applicable to me as an Open Course learner. Even though these things occurred, the course was formatted attractively and included key items such as a syllabus-however planning should have included reworking the classroom lectures to fit the distance learner’s experience.

The course loosely follows the Unit, Module, and Topic (UMT) model. The UMT module is composed of units, then modules (a major subdivision of units), and finally topics (supporting ideas of a module) (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). The 16 modules compose 7 topic areas; however, these items are split up and learners have to go to handouts and assignments to match them with the appropriate lecture materials. As far as content, the course contains textbook readings, PowerPoint handouts, and video lectures with accompanying slides. As depicted by the textbook, with this being an online course, the goal is to incorporate, web resources, graphics, video, audio, discussions, etc. (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). This course is defiantly lacking in graphics and engaging media – as the slides are often composed of dated looking content and videos. High-quality courses should have an emphasis on the use of various visual media tools to offer the instructional content (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). This is an area that could defiantly be improved in the course. Next, as far as instruction/teaching guidelines, the pace of the instruction is completely left up to the learners. However, there is a loose pace that could be based of the in-class reading schedule that is provided in the syllabus, but there is no clearly defined/suggested schedule for online learners. The pace of instruction should be of high concern to the distance education (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). However, because this is an Open Course, focus may not have been put on that particular item.

This course fell short of implementing course activities that maximize active learning for students. The only assessments in the course were PDF handouts of assignment problems. Because the course isn’t being offered on a Content Management System, engaging assessments such as auto-scoring activities (quizzes, etc.) are not provided. Incorporating this feature would offer a more engaging learning environment by providing immediate answers and guiding feedback to the learner. Feedback that can be offered in assessments such as auto-scoring ones is particularly important because if learners are not understanding something, they need to be directed where to go to review the appropriate information. The course does however offer a PDF of solutions for the learner to sift through if he or she wishes to do so.

References

Stanford University. (2015). Welcome to Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE). Retrieved from https://see.stanford.edu/

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

For this blog post, I chose Example 3: Asynchronous Training. This example is seeking a tool provide safety training modules to employees.

The first tool I considered as a solution to this challenge was the Moodle Lesson Module tool. The Lesson Module tool “presents a series of HTML pages to the student, who is asked to make some sort of choice underneath the content area” (Moodlerooms, 2012). This tool could easily deliver the step-by-step processes needed for the asynchronous training example with the use of content pages and question pages. Content pages can deliver the processes and then students can check/test their knowledge about the material being covered as they progress through the training. Along with text, podcasts or podcasts with accompanying video can be embedded in the content page for visual demonstrations if needed. As discussed in this week’s resources, although podcasts are not synchronous activity, it provides students with an experience that will help them feel more connected to the learning environment (Beldarrain, 2006). Moodle could be used as a whole because I would suggest this be used for the actual training and then the Moodle quiz activity to be used to record final grades for the supervisors to ensure their acquired knowledge can be demonstrated.

The second tool that I came across that could be considered a solution is iSpring. iSpring offers a  E-Learning suite that serves training environments. This software is similar to the Moodle Lesson module tool in the sense that is uses content pages (PowerPoint Slides) and question pages (PowerPoints with embedded quizzes) to deliver the content. iSpring also has a really neat video and audio narration feature that allows users to turn PowerPoint presentation into online video training courses (iSpring, 2015). All of these features would serve well in the Asynchronous training example. To ensure the supervisors can appropriately access the employee’s acquired knowledge, iSpring offers an advanced quizzes and surveys feature that can be included in the training course for a grade or as separate assessments. The simplicity of this tool speaks to all of the needs of the training to be delivered in the scenario

References

Moodlerooms. (2012). Best practices: Leveraging the Lesson Module for Differentiated Learning. Retrieved from http://www.moodlerooms.com/resources/blog/best-practices-leveraging-lesson-module-differentiated-learning

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2),139–153.

iSpring. (2015). Free E-Learning Suite. Retrieved from http://www.ispringsolutions.com/free-elearning-suite