Analyzing Scope Creep

According to Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008), “Scope Creep” is the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses.” (p. 346) Last summer I visited Lowes curious about renovating my kitchen. I wanted to either reface or replace my cabinets, and change my countertop. I sat down with a kitchen design specialist and the project began. I took her suggestions and revisited my budget. Of course her suggestions were three times what I wanted to spend, but she had designed a new floor plan adding more storage and more countertop space. We discussed the five components of project scheduling: time, resources, people, quality and scope. (Laureate, 2012) I have addressed the scope creep in each of these factors.

Time: The time projected to complete the project was 9 weeks. 4 weeks to have the cabinets made and delivered, 3 weeks to schedule the subcontractors to install the cabinets and appliances and 2 weeks to have the countertops measured, fabricated and installed to complete the project. The cabinets were delivered on time, however after the contractor opened the boxes to inspect the cabinets he found 5 that were damaged. They needed to be replaced and the project was on hold. Please keep in mind I had five different contractors (one to tear out the kitchen, a plumber, an electrician, the kitchen cabinet installer and the countertop installer) which had to work both consecutively and collaboratively. Once the trucking company called to announce delivery I scheduled the 1st contractor to perform the deconstruction. So when the cabinets were faulty I was without a kitchen for another 9 weeks.

The one time factor I did not account for was my own. I did not consider my time would be so consumed by project planning, scheduling, designing, and choosing materials.

People: The subcontractors for the most part completed their portion of each phase on time and within budget. Even though the damaged cabinets set the entire project back, once the new cabinets arrived they rearranged their schedules to accommodate my schedule. The plumber spent a little more time because I changed the scope after realizing there was a gas hook up for my range (addressed below under resources).

Scope: Once the contract was signed with Lowes and the money paid I had a few opportunities to upgrade portions of the new kitchen.

  1. I went to the countertop place of business and found a pattern (not available through Lowes) I preferred over my first choice. Of course this was more money.
  2. Once the old kitchen was gone we found a gas hookup for the range. I decide to change out my electric range and buy a new gas range.
  3. I also decide to upgrade my ceramic sink to a granite based deeper bowl adding a push button garbage disposal and new faucet.
  4. I pleaded with the contractors to add corner round to my entire ceiling line and not just the cabinet ceiling joint.
  5. I outsourced a painter to repair some of my drywall before I painted and the cabinets were installed.

Quality: The quality of the cabinets and countertops remained within the scope of my kitchen project, however, I did upgrade my sink and range to a better quality product and arranged to repair my walls outside of the original project scope.

Resources: In addition to ordering the kitchen cabinets and countertop there were items I did not factor into the project. My old sink could not be removed in one piece and needed to be replaced and I found a new gas range to replace the existing electric range. I needed to increase the budget for these additions as well as the upgrade for the countertops and repair of the drywall. There were also many other small costs associated with each mini project.

Scope creep can happen pre-project and anytime during the task. In performing this renovation and looking back on the project there were many more things that could have gone wrong to increase the scope of the project. I thought it was a nightmare while I was in the midst of the construction, but realize now it could have been much worse.

“Project managers must expect change and be prepared to deal with it.”  (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer.  2008.  P.  346)  “Avoiding scope creep is not possible. However, monitoring it, controlling it, and thereby reducing some of the pain is possible – if the project manager follows a few simple guidelines:

  • Include a change control system in every plan
  • Every project change is introduced by a change order that includes a description of the agreed-upon change including the plan, process, budget, schedule, or          deliverables
  • Require changes be approved in writing by the client and representative of senior management
  • Amend and update all project plans and schedules to reflect the change after the change order has been approved.”  (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer.  2008.  P.  347)

Today when asked about the kitchen renovation I tell everyone that I will move before undertaking another kitchen remodel. Despite my feelings, I now have experienced a kitchen renovation and know more about project management so tackling another remodeling project may be a bit less frustrating.

Reference:

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

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

Planning the project may be the most difficult part of project scheduling. Without a plan the project has no direction. For this week’s assignment I checked out the following resources to help each team member track a project’s progress.

CreativePro Office

CreativePro Office is free project tracking software. It is completely online and manages your team, clients, projects, invoices, events, quotes and resources. Although it is adaptable to other projects it is geared toward graphic designers and web developers.

CreativePro Office

PBWORKS Online Team Communication

The PBWORKS Online Team Communication website began as a set of wiki pages and grew into a software company providing both free and subscription based programs. The software for project management is ProjectHub.

ProjectHub

ProjectHub allows each user restricted access dependent on the job they perform and gives each user everything they need to collaborate on a project in a secure online environment. They can:

* Assemble project team members on a single platform, including customers, partners, and vendors, complete with detailed social profiles

* Store, discuss, search, and share text, documents, images, and video

* Assign and track deadlines and deliverables

  • Assign resources

* Stay current on task progress with automated notifications and activity streams

* View a visual, single-screen summary of your project

Lastly is a simple resource for information (not project tracking software)

MindTools

Mindtools is a comprehensive resource for the how tos of project implementation, but does not actually include tracking software. Below is a picture of what processes they provide information for.

MindTools

The Art of Effective Communication

Following are my interpretations of a communication delivered verbatim through email, voicemail and a face-to-face conversation.

Written:

The email Jane sent was direct. She stated her purpose and the reasoning for her email was very clear and respectful of Mark’s time. She conveyed that her deadline might not be met if he does not get her the report or the portion she requires. Although it’s hard to relate emotion through written words Jane sounded nervous.

Audio:

Jane sounded very friendly, concerned and a bit irritated she may not receive her information in a timely manner. The voicemail, using the same words sounded more demanding.

Video:

In Jane’s face-to-face conversation she did not seem as dire in needing her information. She seemed cowardly. She did emphasize some of her words and showed some body language, which indicated she was stressed over her deadline, but because she was uncomfortable talking to Mark her intensity was lost.

Factors:

Many factors can influence how people communicate no matter what the method. Different ethnicities or values may define the communication, people’s thoughts and views may delineate the meaning. It is important to know with whom you are communicating so the message has its desired affect.

Best Way to Communicate:

In this case I think email is the most effective means of communication, even though Dr. Stolovich states “Communication is not just words” (Stolovich, 2010). The voicemail in my opinion was the most sincere out of the three modes of communication, but not the best. Because, Mark was busy all day the email would be the most respectful way to contact him so he is not overwhelmed by Jane’s urgency. Although emails can be looked over or ignored in business settings they are a very reliable form of communication and they create a paper trail. This would be useful if Jane needs to defend herself if she misses her deadline.

Summary:

Face-to-face is the most preferred way of interacting, but some individuals are not social and are very skilled at relaying both their thoughts and feelings through their writing. Therefore I think the mode of communication is dependent both upon the situation and the person. That being said, this exercise is an example of how different messages can be interpreted in different ways. Whatever the method of messaging, communication is essential for the success of any project and if possible should always begin with video or face-to-face so each team member can get a proper feel of who they are communicating with and can form their modes of communication to best suit their situation.

References:

Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010). Communicating with Stakeholders. [Online]. Retrieved from Walden University eCollege.

Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010).  Multimedia Program: “The Art of Effective Communication”

Learning from a Project “Post-Mortem”

In 2003 I worked for the one of the largest insurance agencies in the Pittsburgh area. The agency was for the most part automated with the exception of the producers using computers to log their leads and track their follow-up, but once they turned a prospect that client’s information was entered into the automated system. The CSRs (Customer Service Representatives) then referenced and updated the client’s file from their computer which accessed the agency’s server.

The agency wanted the producers to be part of the automated system and researched a new beta system. The beta system was designed by the same software company as the the current system. The beta system was referred to as “Saggita” and our Agency would be the first in the country to utilize the software.

The managers, producers and CSRs attended training courses and everyone was very excited about the transition to Saggita. The software company was in charge of the transition. We performed our final backup one Friday and then waited with baited breath for the new system to be up and running on Monday. Monday came and the CSRs sat at their stations and began logging new information and updating our clients and noticed that the information in each client’s file did not match the information in the previous file. All of the imported data was jumbled and untrustworthy.

Everything came to a complete halt. CSRs had to reference the paper files in file cabinets. This took too much time. Clients were not patiently holding on the phone and the phone calls were backing up. The agency could not return to its previous system because once the software was updated it was impossible to go backward (Not explained or realized before the update). Many clients left and subsequently the agency lost many of its insurance carriers or companies and soon had to close its doors.

I believe both the software retailer and the insurance agency jumped the gun and went forward without complete evaluation of the importing process. However, in the end the Manager (PM) in charge of the software was not educated in computer systems, but did understand inner agency workings. He did not recruit a technological savvy person to oversee the software retailer’s procedures. He also did not delegate and tried to handle the entire transition himself .

The new system, Saggita, was not thoroughly tested before implementation into the agency, especially the importation process. A more detailed feasibility study could have been included.

Portny (2008) mentioned “the success of a project depends on how clear and accurate the plan is…often the pressure to get results fast encourages people to skip the planning and get right to the doing.” The right people, who asked the right questions, could have helped in the project’s success or termination before permanent damage was done.

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 6135 – Reflection

Reflection – Disatance Learning

Following are my reflections on where I see distance education evolvng in the next 5-10 years, how I can be a both a proponent for improving the perception of distance learning and a positive force the continuous growth of distance education.   Throughout the 8 weeks of study I have grasped the foundations, the theories and models, and the technologies of distance learning, how important it is to design the program around the learners and facilitate the program efficiently, and finally how critical the design process is.

What do you think the perceptions of distance learning will be in the future (in 5 – 10 years; in 10 – 20 years)?  

Regardless of the time frame I believe the demand for distance education will continue to grow and the technologies to support the online programs will multiply exponentially. As Dr. Siemens (2010) states, distance learning is and will continue to increase in acceptance in society. It will become more difficult for the instructional designer (ID) to choose the appropriate technology tools. As our younger generation embraces technology distance education will overtake traditional classrooms as the preferred method of learning. And finally, educators will be more equipped to concentrate on the needs of each learner instead of focusing what is best for the majority.

5 – 10 years:

  • Colleges will continue to convert traditional learning programs into a distance learning format.
  • K-12 institutions will begin to delve into the realm of possibilities for blended classrooms.
  • Charter Schools will become more evolved and share their methods with traditional schools.
  • Mobile devices will become part of the tools needed for the curriculum.

10 – 20 years:

  • Most college courses will be offered through online programs.
  • Learners will be able to choose a more focused educational program instead of taking unecessary liberal arts credits.
  • Most K-12 education will be considered “Charter School”.
  • Students will interact with their peers on a global platform.

How can you as an Instructional Designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance elarning?

Myths concerning the lack of social interaction would need to be dispelled. The perception of feeling isolated when partaking in distance learning is a false notion. Participants communicate through different means than face-to-face courses. “When developing a distance delivery course, course designers must provide a way for students and instructor to interact” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p. 5). Our young students are already involved in social media, gaming, and learning initiatives allowing them to relate to others who they have never met face-to-face, but engage in personal and meaningful interactions.

Antother concern in distance education is the lack of interaction with the instructor. Again, distance learning involves different protocols for communicating both with one’s peers and leaders. Both the learner and leader are responsible to maintain suitable correspondence.

Once a student experiences a form of distance education they may feel released form the constraints of the traditional classroom. In order to succeed though they will need to hold themselves to a higher standard because they will be responsible for their education. A distance learner needs to be a self-starter, motivated and able to navigate technology and the tools required for their program.

How will you be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education?

In order for an instructional designer to develop good credentials they must take into consideration many factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Providing a means of communication between the student and instructor via, discussion boards, welcome blogs, feedback forums, etc.
  • Include evaluation tools to ensure the course is evolving with the needs of the students and institution.
  • Incorporating suitable technology and support personnel or forums.
  • Ensure the course addresses different types of learners and equips them with the tools to succeed before the engage in the course.
  • Choose the proper course management system dependent on the requirements of the course.
  • Develop appropriate classes for online learning and not simply flip a traditional program for online use.

Instructional designers need to remember “Successful conversion of course delivery method is not always guaranteed” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p. 1). They need to follow industry standards and use models such as ADDIE and AEIOU to create and evaluate successful programs. IDs should also find ways to keep current with changing industry standards by belonging to peer groups and obtaining current certifications. “Courses are reconceptualized and redesigned to take advantage of the power of technology and the Internet in enhancing learning and increasing student engagement by focusing on active learning and combining face-to-face, virtual, synchronous and asynchronous interaction in novel ways” (Simonson et al., 2012). Learning does not end after obtaining the credentials needed to become an ID but should continue as the field of Instructional Design continues to change.

As a current student I look forward to applying both my knowledge and my classmates knowledge to create engaging online programs, which are relevant to each student. Each class in this program has provided applicable information to help me develop programs to connect students to other students, instructors, professionals, materials and resources.

References:

Schmidt, E. K., & Gallegos, A. (2001). Distance learning: Issues and concerns of distance learners. Journal of Industrial Technology, 17(3), 1-5.

Siemens, G. (2010). The future of distance education. Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). Video.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

The Impact of Open Source – Blog Week 5

I enjoyed looking at open source. It is a growing trend and many are looking into the online courses not for credit, but only to further their own knowledge. Although the open source if free there is still mega planning which goes into each course.

The courseware I studied for this week’s application was Fundamentals of Computational Media Design. I evaluated the online course for the following characteristics: (1) was the course well planned for an online environment, (2) does the course follow recommendations set forth in our course readings and (3) did the instructional designer engage the intended learner.

What is open courseware: “Open CourseWare (n) (OCW) is an educational initiative developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to make the core teaching materials for all MIT graduate and undergraduate classes available at no cost to Internet users around the world.” (www.whatis.techtarget.com). OCW incorporates many resources which may include course materials, lectures, presentations, notes, reference materials, evaluations, activities, and practice simulations.

Benefits of OCW:

  • Free
  • Can be acquired through an accredited institution
  • Many disciplines are offered

Disadvantages of OCW:

  • Usually cannot received credit for the class
  • No interaction with a facilitator or instructor

Information on the Open CourseWare chosen:

Course Name: Fundamentals of Computational Media Design

Course URL: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/media-arts-and-sciences/mas-110-fundamentals-of-computational-media-design-fall-2008/#

Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Course Description: “This class covers the history of 20th century art and design from the perspective of the technologist. Methods for visual analysis, oral critique, and digital expression are introduced. Class projects this term use the OLPC XO (One Laptop Per Child) laptop, Csound and Python software.” (www.ocw.mit.edu)

Analysis of the Course: The course was easy to navigate with a well designed base page. There were links to each section of the course and organizational links, such as, a syllabus, resources, assignments, calendar, etc. The class met twice per week for one hour sessions and all three books were available through Amazon. I downloaded the course materials and previewed the introduction to the course. The class consisted of 26 segments or approximately 13 weeks to complete if you followed the suggested schedule.

Course Validity: When comparing this course to Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zyacek’s (2012) suggestions pertaining to guiding instructors with respect to distance learning I concluded the following:

Teaching Fundamental Positive Negative
Course was designed for distance education The course had many reference materials and was well organized Many of the materials were confusing and needed explanations
Organization of the course and explicit instructions The course was well organized and easy to navigate. It included a syllabus and downloadable resources. Instructions, although included, were vague and in some sections non-existant
Communication with the student The course was left on the web for the student to navigate. Links to a support site were available if needed. Because this is open source and I did not complete the entire 13 weeks of instruction, I’m not sure if the facilitator checked in on the learners.
Course Outcomes Not Applicable for my involvement.   Although the syllabus was very detailed and listed the course goals. Not Applicable for my involvement
Test Course Applications (Not Rote Memory) Not Applicable for my involvement.   Assignments were due, not tests, but I’m not sure who graded and then posted the results. Not Applicable for my involvement
A tutorial on the Course website I found no support or tutorial for how to navigate the website or how to proceed through the class and lectures.
Apply Adult Learning Principles Without support for the navigation of the site I do not think adult learning is supported.
Integration of the web The site utilized videos and embedded activities to engage the learner.

In conclusion, although the site was organized and easy to navigate it lacked many fundamentals of online education. Including, but not limited too: communication with support or a class facilitator or guide, class announcements and discussion forums.

References:

Laureate Education Inc., n. d.). Application: Blog-The impact of open source. [Course Resources]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4775279_1%26url%3D

MIT OpenCourseWare. (2014). Faq: Using ocw materials. Retrieved from http://ocw.mit.edu/help/faq-using-ocw-materials/

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Vercoe, Barry, David Small, Henry Holtzman, and V. Bove. MAS.110 Fundamentals of Computational Media Design, Fall 2008. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/media-arts-and-sciences/mas-110-fundamentals-of-computational-media-design-fall-2008 (Accessed 5 Oct, 2014). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

whatis.techtarget.com/definition/MIT-OpenCourseWare-OCW

EDUC 6135 Week 3 Blog Post – Designing Learning Protocol

Analysis of Scenario One: A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

First, I would evaluate the need for the type of training by observing the operations of the organization and conducting interviews with key employees. The course needs to asynchronous in nature. Because the employees are separated in time and space I would initially create a tutorial for the new automated system using screencasts and simple audio instructions for each employee to review on their own and subsequently be evaluated before moving into the next phase of training. A practice area (simulation) can also be included where the employees are able to navigate the software without the fear of making mistakes. This may help to reinforce the employee’s retention of the new material. Once they have a basic understanding of the new system the next step should be online forums where they can post questions, discuss their thoughts, report bugs, etc. The forums should be closely monitored to quickly help or fix problems encountered during everyone’s training. Both of these approaches can be contained in a course management system allowing the employees to login, navigate and complete the first phase of tutorials and then participate in the online forum.

The course should be tailored to adult learners and contain only relevant information. Because the instruction takes place online costs will be reduced and employees are able to complete the instruction within the corporation’s time frame, but at their own discretion.

There are many approaches to ultimately realizing the proper training. Simonson states “successful teaching can be achieved with any technology”. (p. 172). Each approach depends on the situation and resources available and may require a professional’s opinion on how to design and implement the proper training techniques.

References:

Simonson, M., Smaldino, s., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Transformation of DISTANCE EDUCATION

Distance learning encompasses so many forms of education. First we must define Distance Learning. Distance learning occurs when there is a separation between the instructor and the student, usually due to geographical or time concerns that prevent the student from attending an on-campus course.

Distance learning has been around for over 100 years beginning with correspondence courses and continuing through instructional radio and television. As technology evolves so has distance education. Today the internet has helped to enhance distance learning by providing interactive features. As more technological advances are made the nature of distance education will also proceed, but hopefully this will be guided by professional such as instructional designers and not by pedagogy educators simply trying to transform their brick and mortar classroom into an online course. The instructional designer has the ability to orient the students to the technology and thus reducing any anxiety of the participants and helping the instructor with the instructional techniques.

Quality of education is important and creating new ways of relaying information should not be rushed, but planned with each learner in mind. I agree with Huett, Moller, Foshay and Coleman that “Rushing to adopt distance education, or any new technology, to avoid being seen as out of touch or outdated certainly is as ephemeral as most fads.” (Huett, p. 66)

I can refer to my own experience as an adult distance learner in Walden’s program. Being able to focus on defining education and applying technology is truly the best of two worlds. The open learning approach, “…a focus on local and individual needs and requirements.” (Simonson, p. 37), has helped define my future plans. “E-learning allows for learning strategies that may not be possible in a classroom or other traditional environments. However, regardless or its theoretical currency, the most effective strategy is the one the learners actually use.” (Moller, p. 74).

I see more forms of distance education in the near future. From a financial aspect alone colleges and universities are transforming their curriculums to include distance education. Colleges and universities can now provide learning opportunities to many interested parties and offer them the ability to work from home. It not only reduces the university’s overhead, but allows them to enroll more students. Distance education will grow globally and be available to every age. It will allow many different users in different parts of the world to collaborate on projects and create new ways to relate information to all involved parties.

References:

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/distance_learning.html