Sooo, I creep… yeah, SCOPE CREEP.

Yes, I was singing TLC ‘Creep’ in my head when I wrote this blog post. Hence the title. Anyways… this is my last blog post for this class. When I first started my MA journey into Instructional Design – I did not know what to expect. I started with this project in my first Instructional Design class that had me do 500 things in Adobe, and I had no idea what I was doing. It was a rough project. I literally scope creeped myself.

Now if you’re not familiar with my previous blog posts or scope creep let me explain.

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It feels like you are being attacked from all angles and you’re all alone. In a project you have a specific timeline. This timeline is pretty fixed as you have to meet deadlines and conform to what your PM and client want. The farther along in the project the more the timeline changes and things get added and taken away after you’ve already spent weeks on it. This is scope creep. The never ending attack of changes and reports.

Now back to my project. I was my own worst enemy. I wanted the project to be perfect. Then I kept falling behind, more and more. Until one day – I noticed what I was doing to myself. I was stressing myself out creeping on my own project. Like it wasn’t bad enough that someone else could do it, but here I am – a one man party doing it to myself. So, I realized something. Nothing inInstructional Design is going to be perfect right out of the gate. It takes time to perfect and work out the kinks. Once I realized this I was able to fix my own scope creep and project all at once.

So I leave you with this final thought…

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$$$project budget$$$

As discussed, working as an Instructional Designer or a Project Manager could be frustrating to say the least. There are elements that can throw off what seems to be a perfectly planned project, especially if that thing is the budget.

Now a project budget can have a lot of factors – like;

  • Time spent on the project
  • Resources / Training materials used
  •  Constraints
  •  Deliverables

All of these things need to be thought of before allocating funds to a project budget. A great resources to help any PMs and IDs on allocating a project budget before starting a project comes from the LinkedIn Learning website — Lynda.com — What is a project budget? This segment has great information on managing a project like scope and cost.

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To understand the scope and cost of a budget you need to organize what needs to be accomplished with the project. Like the strategy and goal of the project. How will the project be developed in the amount of time given so that the project doesn’t go over budget. Is there a specific person monitoring expenses or the proposed budget?

Project Schedules

Projects as an Instructional Designer can be challenging. Heck, any project can be a challenge no matter how big or small the task, or task(s). This week in my class we discussed the different ways that a project can be thrown off schedule and ways to keep it on schedule. The biggest hindrance to a project is the proposed initial budget, the project timeline, and the amount of tasks associated with the project.

Which all of these problems that can occur in a project can simply be handled by following the chart below. See Below.

project-management-best-practices.png

Now that we have a clear understanding on how to fix the problems how do these problems within a project actually come into play. It’s simple, know your client, know your clients needs, and know where your PM wants the project to go. This will alleviate a lot of additional stress as the designated ID. If you have questions, ask. You want the project and tasks to flow smoothly which means that you have to have a clear understanding on where the project will go.

Maybe try some organizational skills as well like:

  • Creating a list of importance
    • Label all tasks by priority and start with the highest
  • Color coding
    • Sounds corny, but trust it works. If blue is your color, make everything you need to do in blue and everything else in an ugly color to prioritize
  • Have a list of all important numbers and contacts
    • But why? Because – when you run into a hiccup, you will need these for those said questions.

But most importantly know that projects go through numerous changes before being finalized and know that your first draft will not be your last – and that is okay.

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Communication

Hello real world! Communication is key! Shocker. For this blog post I am evaluating the possible communication and miscommunication people can face in the workplace.

Link Below

http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html

Email – Personally, I have a lot of problems with the format in which the email to receive data was typed. The email, although in the right to ask about the information was accusatory in tone. If the person needed the data as quickly as they are stating to send an email, call and have a face to face… then it should have been an utmost priority in the beginning. Also, if it is a project that is being worked on together – then there should have been set deadlines on when certain parts of the projected would be due to one another.

Voicemail – Alright – now we have moved past the email and onto a voicemail, which literally was word for word from the email. The email was a mess to begin with and now we are sounding repetitive and almost like you are checking off a box on a list when asking for data you need. It almost at this point seems like the person is asking for the information all of these ways, so when they do not turn in their portion of the project then they can say “well I tried contacting [insert name here] for the data.”

Face to Face – This is where we should have started. Email. Passive aggressive. Voicemail. Annoying. Face to Face – get things done. In doing a face to face meeting you could talk to the person see what is going on and if they have anything for you – because they could have been busy and forgot and may of had the information and was going to send it, but sometimes people are not connected to their devices all the time due to other commitments.

I feel like this situation could have been easily avoided if the person needing the data started with the face to face talk. However, ultimately they both needed to have set deadlines in place PRIOR to the due date. That way neither parties are subjected to the harassment of the emails, calls, texts, and pop ups.

Project Post-Mortem

Intro to Project: I created this project as one of my first projects for my graduate degree. It was over the high turnover rate at the school I was working for at the beginning of my career. In the 2015-2016 school year, the school lost close to 40% of their staff, during the 2016-2017 school year (the year that I worked there) during the school year about 10% of staff left, at the end of the year another 20% left. I tried analyzing the trends as to why, came to a conclusion – but was not able to formulate a solution.

Below are some questions to re-evaluate a previous ID project. While not all questions will be answered, most still hold great points to think about when ‘resurrecting’ a project.

Phase I: Determine Need and Feasibility

  1. Did our needs/market analysis or feasibility study identify all the project deliverables that we eventually had to build? If not, what did we miss and how can we be sure our future analyses don’t miss such items?
  2. Did our needs/market analysis or feasibility study identify unnecessary deliverables? If so, how can we be sure our future analyses don’t make this mistake?
  3. How could we have improved our need-feasibility or analysis phase? Taken the administrators into consideration when accounting for the high turnover rate. What their perspective on the situation is. What do the teachers, staff, and administrators need in order to be successful where they are?

Phase II: Create Project Plan 

  1. How accurate were our original estimates of the size and effort of our project? What did we over or under estimate? (Consider deliverables, work effort, materials required, etc.) I definitely underestimated as I only interviewed 3 teachers for this entire project. I should have included administration and staff perspectives as well in my analysis of the high turn overs.
  2. How could we have improved our estimate of size and effort so that it was more accurate? Narrow down the range of scope to only focus on the school itself verses the teachers only. Because that skews the results to be biased.
  3. Did we have the right people assigned to all project roles? (Consider subject matter expertise, technical contributions, management, review and approval, and other key roles) If no, how can we make sure that we get the right people next time? No. It was just me, myself, and I.
  4. Describe any early warning signs of problems that occurred later in the project? How should we have reacted to these signs? How can we be sure to notice these early warning signs next time?
  5. Could we have completed this project without one or more of our vendors/contractors? If so, how?
  6. Were our constraints, limitations, and requirements made clear to all vendors/contractors from the beginning? If not, how could we have improved our RFP or statement of need?
  7. Were there any difficulties negotiating the vendor contract? How could these have been avoided?
  8. Were there any difficulties setting up vendor paperwork (purchase orders, contracts, etc.) or getting the vendor started? How could these have been avoided?
  9. List team members or stakeholders who were missing from the kickoff meeting or who were not involved early enough in our project. How can we avoid these oversights in the future?
  10. Were all team/stakeholder roles and responsibilities clearly delineated and communicated? If not, how could we have improved these?
  11. Were the deliverables specifications, milestones, and specific schedule elements/dates clearly communicated? If not, how could we improve this?

Phase III: Create Specifications for Deliverables

  1. Were you proud of our blueprints or other detailed design specifications? If not, how could we have improved these? As my first ID project completed, I was ecstatic – now looking back the rough outline and perspective of the project only favored one group; the teachers.  
  2. Did all the important project players have creative input into the creation of the design specifications? If not, who were we missing and how can we assure their involvement next time? 3. Did those who reviewed the design specifications provide timely and meaningful input? If not, how could we have improved their involvement and the quality of their contributions?
  3. How could we have improved our work process for creating deliverables specifications?

Phase IV: Create Deliverables

  1. Were you proud of our deliverables? If not, how could we have improved these? I was, I felt like the materials delivered to the teachers were given in a timely manner. These deliverables were in the form of interview questions to gain a non biased opinion on the subject matter.
  2. Did all the important project players have creative input into the creation of the deliverables? If not, who were we missing and how can we assure their involvement next time?
  3. Did those who reviewed the deliverables provide timely and meaningful input? If not, how could we have improved their involvement and the quality of their contributions?
  4. How could we have improved our work process for creating deliverables?

Phase V: Test and Implement Deliverables

  1. Were the members of our test audience truly representative of our target audience? If not, how could we assure better representation in the future? No. The target audience was the teachers. However, reevaluating the project, called for the need for the target audience to include administration and staff.
  2. Did the test facilities, equipment, materials, and support people help to make the test an accurate representation of how the deliverables will be used in the “real world?” If not, how could we have improved on these items? It was real world as this project was based on the current high turn overrates in he school I worked at during the 2016-2017 school year. 
  3. Did we get timely, high-quality feedback about how we might improve our deliverables? If not, how could we get better feedback in the future?
  4. Was our implementation strategy accurate and effective? How could we improve this strategy? My implementation strategy was lacking in areas and matters of the administration aspect as the project was biased and only focused on the teachers.
  5. Did our hand-off of deliverables to the user/customer/sponsor represent a smooth and easy transition? If not, how could we have improved this process?

 

Distance Learning

Distance learning is a rapidly growing tool and source of new and continuing education. Many students are committing to working while going to school which has been rapidly growing over the past decade. This also can account for the growing trend of continuing education as well. To compete in today’s job market and society – most employers are beginning to look for higher level education trending towards a Masters’ degree and higher.

See Graph Below 

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Since distance learning is rapidly growing. Instructional Designers need to be expanding and growing with the trend. One of the hardest challenges an instructional designer faces is keeping up with technology. For example, once an ID becomes an expert in a certain design software, a newer and better version has already been developed and manufactured. An ID needs to stay ahead of the technology changes and know the rising trends that will help promote educational goals and growth in distance learning.

Society today focuses on the working parent. With the working parent comes the demand to always improve ones education. While many companies now have stipends that they work into their contracts, there is still the need for a convenient educational option that allows the working parent to pursue theses goals. Hence the growth in distance learning. I would not be surprised if in 10-15 years more students are working towards an online degree making more mainstream. I mean if Amazon and online retailers can derail entire chainstores – whose to say that e-learning and online degrees can’t make the same transition?

In order to be a positive force in the e-learning community, praise needs to be given to the program. For me, I am a single working mom pursuing a M.A in Instructional Design. Working full time, and being a mom full time has its challenges, but I am able to obtain my dreams of getting my M.A with online degrees. It requires a lot of late nights, but it is worth it than cutting out physical time to sit in a classroom.

Training Scenario

Let’s take a moment to talk about training scenarios. What would you do if:

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.

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What would you do in their shoes? Probably consider all the potential hiccups they would run into, right? Well for starters – building a hybrid training module is technology driven. The trainer would have to make sure that the potential trainees have access to the same materials. Which, the trainer covered by “putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.” How would the trainer check the material though for accuracy? Could this put a damper on his role as trainer since the training would be self driven?

Think of it like this. If you have ever completed an online class, or watched a training video for a new job – how much did you actually participate? In class, probably the last minute when the assignment was due, because you knew exactly what time the dropbox would be closing. And, when you took that training class did you actually listen to the training videos, or only focus when you knew the checkpoint quiz was coming up?

Either way – the trainer could be losing the trainees by focusing on the e-learning aspect. Yes, they could add checkpoint, but who would they be benefiting? To actually see potential and growth from the training the trainer needs to make sure his face-to-face sessions not only cover the e-learning material, but also grows and expands upon this as well – or the training would be lost.

Another suggestion would be to implement a Google Classroom, or a course site platform that also has the additional capability of a web conferencing – like Google Hangouts. This way the trainer can be available for students and monitor progress while implementing their hybrid class.

Bonus Material: The trainer should also check out this great resource on how to properly convert to a hybrid class. https://blended.online.ucf.edu

What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear!

 

 

Defining Distance Learning in 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen, learners all alike; today we are going to attempt to define, describe and outline what is distance learning in 2018.

Original thoughts on distance learning: Personally, I find distance learning more accommodating to the working people of society, or for those who cannot make it to a physical class due to other circumstances. According for the article found on Open Education Database, the top 10 advantages to online classes include:

  1. Variety of Programs
  2. Lower Cost of Tuition
  3. More Comfortable Learning Environment
  4. Flexibility and Convenience
  5. More Interaction and Greater Ability to Concentrate
  6. Career Advancement
  7. Continue Profession
  8. Avoid Commute
  9. Improve Technology Skills
  10. Transfer Credits

When I decided to transition to a fully online program – it was part of the variety of programs now being offered online, the flexibility and convenience that meets my schedule, continuation of my profession, and avoiding a daily commute. As an online student I greatly appreciate the flexibility that online classes allows me, I am able to work and maintain my job as a teacher and better myself with furthering my education.

However, challenges I face are my own time management when it comes to assignments. I have a hard time balancing my personal life and school work and procrastinate until the last minute. This does not display healthy study habits that need to be displayed for successful completion of work. Other challenges include the lack of face to face elements. If there are questions, sometimes answers are no immediate as if they were in a face to face class.

If you are in my EDUC 6135: Distance Learning class – This post should look familiar as it is my original thoughts on distance learning as it pertains to me, however, one factor I left out… Technology.

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While I believe distance learning is more accommodating to the working family (don’t believe me? Check out some stats: 10 Stats About Working Parents In The United States, College Students With Children Are Common) there is still the disadvantage of technology in some cases. For example, technology is constantly changing. Think about your phone or your computer. It is constantly asking you, reminding you, telling you that it needs to be updated. The same goes for technology and education. One minute you are learning about improving technology in the classroom then the next you are changing what you have learned to accommodate the newer technology that was just released. This ever changing advancement in technology can both frustrate the learner.

For me personally, I am horrible with technology. So for me, taking these distance learning classes have helped me grow in certain areas and fail in others when it comes to technology because of all the advancements.

 

References:

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, 52(3), 70–75.

Open Education Database. 10 Advantages Online Classes. Retrieved from https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/10-advantages-to-taking-online-classes/

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015).Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education

Mindmap: https://jenniferyadav.wordpress.com/

In Conclusion

Over the course of the past few weeks, I learned that in order to understand student learning we must look at the idea of what factors influence learning. These methods are in turn connected in some aspect. For example, let’s take facts like in the learning theory matrix presented below; the students environment, motivation, support, and memory. All of these elements play into the role of student learning, growth, and development.

Honestly, I never believed there were other theories besides the ones I grew up in. The left brain, right brain; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learner. However, learning about constructivism helped focus the learning to the actual students and their own needs. “Constructivism and its focus on learners are best applied to knowledge that the learner has the luxury of choosing to learn.” Which is about 85% of my student population in middle school. Most of my students choose what they want to learn based on what they feel is important in the digital and ever-growing age of technology. If they can Google it, it is not important enough to learn. To establish a solid base with students there needs to be an understanding of what is true and accurate and what is relevant. Especially when bringing instructional design into the classroom.

During one of our readings, we read that “the issue many forget is that “learning” is not one thing…it is a multi-layered word that tends to get treated as if it were just one thing…and it’s not. It is multi-facetted and that is why developing new models for “learning” is so difficult…there are too many levels for one school of thought or one model to do it all.” When approaching the topic of behaviorism and cognitivism, we must look at and address the individual students and not lump them as a whole. Behavior and cognitivism can go hand in hand since they analyze and develop in different forms, but it is a multi-layered facet contributing to student growth and learning. Moving forward, I will apply constructivism to my students learning and facilitate practices that are not generalized to the whole group but focused on individual student needs.

 

 

 

 

Integrated Technology

As discussed in my last post, I presented my Learning Theory Matrix.Learning theory

This matrix outlines the support and constant need students need while learning and growing. However, the purpose of a Learning Theory Matrix is that it can work for all aspects of learning. So, how would this particular matrix work for the rising trend of integrated and blended learning? Let’s take a look.

Blended learning: Is a use of technology and learning practices supported in the school environment while providing tools to support teacher instruction. Phew! That sounds like a lot. Still have questions? Try reading this article Blended Learning – So. Many. Questions. 
Environment: A students environment can influence student learning and behavior, these can be affected by the school atmosphere and the relationship the school and student have with the community. As the school is seen as an extension of the community. On top of this, blended learning provides students with the required background and accessible skills and tools to aid them in their learning. In some communities, access to ready tools and technology is harder to come by as they may not have the resources to use these items.
Motivation: Students need to be motivated to learn. The lessons need to be engaging and have attributes that relate to the student learning process. Blended learning adds to motivation, with its engaging tools and possible support games that the students may use while using the technology provided. For example, a normal lecture over powerpoint notes where the students take notes may be boring an not motivate students to learn as they get bored with the transfer of material. (This can also directly relate to environment and memory). Now, add technology. The tools provided to the student can add another element of learning that supports learning memory. Such tools could be an interactive guided notes through Google Docs.
Support: Every student needs a support system. This can also correlate to their environment and motivation. Without support the student may lack the proper tools to grow. This support can come from family, the community, peers, and from other adult influence. Blended learning support is more geared towards teacher and peers. Google Docs is a great resource for this support element students need to succeed. This also enables students to work together on projects outside of school and still have access to the required material.
Memory: Such an engrained area of life. Memory. We build everything off memory; knowledge, life lessons, even things that influence us. For student, memory of school comes from the influence that family or peers may have had (good or mad). This can directly correlate to their motivation and drive in school. Blended learning can active learning memory in non traditional students who thrive off of other forms of learning. This is for the students who are more hands on versus the students who are better at repetition.