Scope Creep

As mentioned previously, scope creep was an issue with our school’s PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supoorts) implementation.  Scope creep quickly became an issue. New items were being constantly added to the to do list and the project quickly got out of control and the to do list became bigger and bigger at each check in.  Initially team members were assigned various tasks to complete within the project. The team would meet back to share and discuss and then make changes.  Our principal would disregard the efforts and group consensus and put in something random that she found online.  This led to team members feeling as though their input was not valued.  Dr. Stolovitch discussed the importance of taking the emotion out of a project from the beginning by managing expectations.

The project could have been successful with proper management to control scope creep.  Making a list of all tasks and prioritizing them would have assisted in keeping scope creep at bay and the project’s timeline in order.  Having everyone sign off on a statement of work would have also been beneficial.  It would have been a great point of reference to reiterate what was agreed upon at the beginning.

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Project Scheduling

Below are two resources that provide information and ideas to assist with developing a project schedule.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog

This blog offers “practical, real-world tips for e-learning success”.  One of the posts can be found here  and provides details on how to easily manage e-learning projects using Trello.  Trello is a free application that allows one to create create a project board.  From the project board, you can create task lists.  Then using the cards feature you can create individual tasks.   A video overview is provided in the post along with bonus tips to manage your project.

ProjectManagement.com

This website contains a plethora of information on all aspects of project management.  Under the topics tab you can find a section devoted solely to scheduling. Registering for a free account provides access to numerous articles and related content to build upon project scheduling knowledge.  The option to network with professionals in the field is an added bonus to gain insight into real world application.

Communicating Effectively

As stated in the resource start page, the way a message is delivered can have implications for the way it is received.  The three different manners in which the message was delivered resulted in me feeling three different ways as the recipient.

Email

The email made me feel demeaned and as though someone was very upset with me.  The tone felt very negative. On the flip side, I also thought maybe they had to be so direct with this email because they had requested the missing report numerous times beforehand.  Written communication is difficult to decipher because you do not have the person’s voice, facial expressions and body language to help guide you.

Voicemail

The voicemail delivery seemed much friendlier than the email despite the words being the same.  The woman’s tone of voice was soft and kind and made me feel as though she was reaching out for help on something instead of demanding a missing report. It goes to show that the tone of one’s speaking voice and written voice do not always portray in the same light.

Face to Face

To be honest, this seemed very stage and it was difficult for me to get past that.  Or possibly it was meant to convey in this manner?  The woman’s body language was unsure and she seemed to be looking around for someone to provide her with the words to say.  The words did not flow normally and made her come across as unsure and not confident.  The importance of the missing report being needed was totally lost to me in this situation.

Learning from a Project “Post-Mortem”

My experience with a project was in the field of education.  As a member of the Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) team for my school, the team was tasked with creating and implementing a PBIS system within our school.  The team consisted of seven team members including our principal who served as the lead for the team.  We attended a two-day training and met numerous times to work on our PBIS project.  However, the project did not end up being successful.

Looking back and accounting for what I have learned in my courses, there were several factors that attributed to the project not meeting expectations.  Scope creep was an issue in that things were being constantly added to the to do list and the project quickly got out of control in that regard.  Initially team members were assigned various jobs to complete within the project. The team would meet back to share and discuss and then make changes.  Our principal would disregard the efforts and group consensus and put in something random that she found online.  This led to team members feeling as though their input was not valued.  One objective we had was to create a mantra so to speak using an acronym for positive behaviors.  The was quickly agreed upon by all team members and we used ROARS – Responsible, Organized, Accepting, Responsible and Safe.  The acronym was to be the basis for our schoolwide matrix and posters for the various sites schoolwide.  Again, when we met back at the next meeting, some posters had the agreed upon acronym while others contained other words that did not reflect the acronym accurately.  This was problematic since we were also going to be responsible for passing the information on to the other teachers in our building.  Consistency was lost and confusion ensued. Ultimately, we were unable to make our principal see the issues that were going to arise due to the way she had deviated and this resulted in the staff not buying in and implementing the PBIS system effectively.

EDUC 6135 Reflection

“Distance learning is rapidly becoming the popular choice for continuing professional education, mid-career degree programs, and lifelong learning of all kinds” (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008, p. 66).  Distance learning has advanced tremendously in the last decade and if we look at the patterns of its growth in the field of education, all indications suggest that it will continue to develop and flourish.

Looking forward at the perceptions that may surround distance learning in 15-20 years, I feel barriers and negative perceptions will be eradicated even further.  By that time, I anticipate distance learning will be a norm and regular option for learners as they progress from K-12 to higher education.

Learning materials are already and will be increasingly available across the web (Simonson et. al, 2012). Over the last decade, technology has advanced the capability to communicate more easily and effectively and access interact with the content anywhere one has internet connectivity.  I remember my first online course and being sent VHS tapes to watch.  As accessibility becomes easier and more familiar for learners, their comfort level will increase as they feel capable in utilizing the technology to complete course requirements.  Thus, creating a positive experience and perception for the learner as Dr. Siemens indicated.

As an instructional designer, creating courses that provide numerous opportunities for engagement between the instructors and learners would allow for interactions to promote a positive perception amongst learners.  Staying apprised of technological advances and best practices for instructional design will be necessary to provide learners with the best possible experience.

References

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

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2011). Designing effective
instruction (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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

 

Converting to Distance Learning Format

A Guide for Converting to a Distance Learning Format

This teaching guide presents research on the learning possibilities offered through online and blended learning, as well as effective practices for facilitating online courses.

Pre-Planning Strategies

 The planning process of converting materials to a distance education format is equally as important as the planning process of a traditional course and “knowing the basic principles of instructional design can help to ensure that what is produced serves a necessary purpose, meets the needs of students, is attractive and well organized, is delivered in an appropriate mode, and is continually evaluated and improved (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2011, p.5).  The following considerations must be taken into account when converting to a format that utilizes distance learning.

Learner

Considerations

·      Number of Trainees
·      Learners’ Abilities
·      Technology Available to Trainees
·      Trainees’ Familiarity with Technology Tools
·      Characteristics of the Trainees
Content

Considerations

·      Purpose of the Training
·      Scope and Sequence
·      Goals and Objectives
Instructional Strategy

Considerations

·      Determine a Model
·      Presentation of Training Material
·      Create a List of Task that Align to Goals and Objectives
·      Aesthetics
·      Determine CMS (Course Management System)
·      Consult with Instructional Designer

Enhancing the Training Program and Encouraging Communication

Successful blended courses have higher rates of student-to-student and instructor-to-student interactions (Aycock, Garnham, & Kaleta, 2002).  The potential to improve the interaction and communication amongst trainees would be a solution to the problem indicated by the manager in the scenario.  The discussion forum provides a format for trainees to interact and communicate with other trainees and with you as the trainer. Simonson et.al stated, “The threaded discussion is one of the most powerful techniques used in distance education” (2015, p. 186).  Its effectiveness is enhanced by the responsibilities and contributions of the instructor and the student.

Changing Role

As stated by Simonson, et al. (2012), “the instructor is viewed as the facilitator of learning by guiding, rather than directing, the students, thus modeling a student-centered approach”(p.152).   As the trainer, you may not have to be physically present at every training session with the blended format implementation. Facilitating the learning will continue to be done in large part remotely now. Promoting interactions and motivating trainees are important aspects of the trainer’s role.  Assessing the trainees’ performance must be done to ensure that instructional tasks are helping to meet the instructional goals and objectives.

References

Aycock, A., Garnham, C., & Kaleta, R. (March 20, 2002). Lessons learned from the hybrid

course project. Teaching with Technology Today, 8(6), 1-6.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2011). Designing effective
instruction (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Pappas, C. (2011). How would you go about converting a face to face course to an

eLearning format? Retrieved from https://www.efrontlearning.com/blog/2011/10/how-

would-you-go-about-converting-face.html

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a

distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

 

Defining Distance Learning

When I first hear the term distance learning, I think of learning that takes place when the source of instruction is not physically in the same learning environment as the student.  Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek (2015, p. 32) cite Simonson’s definition of distance education as “institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors.” Technology has evolved to enable distance learning to become more and more dominant throughout the field of education from K-12 to higher education.  As technology continues to change, I can see innovations in distance learning taking place.  Personally, I see more and more high school students that are friends of my daughter choosing the route of distance education and removing themselves from the physical classroom setting.  This is a fairly new notion here in SC where I live but I can see it becoming more and more prevalent with older students.  Distance learning provides flexibility which can be advantageous to those juggling other commitments such as families and jobs (Bevan, 2003).

Bevan, J. (2003).  Distance no object: Julie Bevan describes the benefits of a distance       learning gerontological degree programme with the RCN Institute.  (email interview).  Nursing Older People, (3), 32.

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

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