“Scope Creep”

scopecreep

All of the Project Management community of professionals would agree that one of the dirtiest phrases to use or let alone deal with in the industry is “SCOPE CREEP”.  Scope creep, defined by many as the ‘thorn’ of their professional existence. Scope creep, unexpected occurrences within the full scope of a project which impacts in ways of time, money, resources and talent. Now, I could write this blog about scope creep revealing all negative of this PM condition, but I digress. Let’s be frank, scope creep is in the eye of the beholder. This condition could be a blessing in disguise. Are you still with me?

Whether that is the case or not, it is the PM who can make the sun shine or the storm clouds gather. It is all in the planning. Now I am not stating that scope creep can always be avoided, certainly not! What I do want to convey is the vital importance that a PM fully understands the inner workings of the project environment, the organics of it all.

Prime example, in the case of the client who doesn’t quite know what they want or the one who says “I’ll know what I want when I see it” type of client. Give due diligence to the client in assisting the project driver to render a clear vision for the project. This helps the PM understand their priorities and the priorities of the client. From that point create a process of change document creating a unified understanding and expectations (Laureate Education, n.d.).

I’ve got another one. Those overly discerning, who are determined to impose an unwritten or unspoken agreement of receiving valued service for free. This means extra time, work, resources and/or money for free. REALLY? This does happen quite often to those independent contractors out there. To defray this happening, establish conditions, the frame for the client relationship in writing… a contract. Within this document, let the client know if such activity occurs how this will possibly affect delivery time and associated costs. Free yourself from those types of conversations in the very beginning.

Scope creep comes in many forms which makes it all the more important for the PM to understand project priorities, organize and schedule deliverables, seek the required approvals, strive to satisfy the client and your team of talent. By all means, continue throughout analyzing and assessing performance and quality project outcomes and expectations (Portny et al, 2008) . Remember, scope creep is always looming and is coming your way. Prepare with good planning.

References

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Monitoring projects [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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.

 

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The Feel of Listening

ListeningMatters

Effective communication is no doubt a two-way street, an exchange of words crafted to convey a specific message for a specific situation. There is an old saying; “say what you mean, mean what you say.” This rings truth in many ways. Communication is more than a word. It is accompanied by other non-verbal human and cultural elements such as gestures and tone which brings the message to a state of clarity.

The message example was delivered three ways: email, phone voicemail and face-to-face. Of the three choices, I found the face-to-face message to be most effective. The recipient was able to see the body gestures and sense the sincerity and urgency in the tone of the message offering the listening ear direction to move the process along. This proves that non-verbal communication is just as important as the words itself.

The context of communication is also important as well. You would not speak to a child the same as an adult. So, the emotional state and cultural background of a person must be taken into account. Then there is the choice of words. Choosing the right words to convey a message, thought or point is critical. Therefore, the messenger must ensure that the words match the gestures and emotions (Riddle, n.d.).

As we all know, it takes at least two people to make this kind of exchange, otherwise, in most cases, it is considered lunacy.

Effective communication is the glue that can deepen the connection to others, giving opportunity to improve teamwork, decision making and problem solving. It also assists in conveying negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.

 

References

Riddle, J. (n.d.). 5 Things to Practice for Effective Communication Skills. Retrieved from http://workawesome.com/communication/effective-communication-skills/

“What a Wonderful World”

“In an increasingly complex world, sometimes old questions require new answers.” -Glasbergen

Mindmap 4

Throughout this course there have been many discussions of distance learning from different perspectives. Having been an online student for many years, I have experienced the sensitivity to the validity of this form of acquiring knowledge. In past, the traditional classroom has been the breeding ground for some of the world’s greatest innovators both in thought and reason. But, since the emergence of cyberspace, the world has become a smaller place. People, places and knowledge are all at the fingertips of the seeker in real-time.

Though there are many skeptics surrounding distance learning, the same crowd cannot deny or ignore the increase of online learners. As local school districts, college and universities and corporate entities see the benefits of this medium of delivering knowledge, it is easy to assume that in the next 10 years distance learning will be at the forefront of how we learn globally. As the world population continues to grow and the space to build traditional classrooms decreases, the appeal for virtual learning will be the preferred (Hanz, 2007).

As an instructional designer, I am compelled to ensure the designs I produce are effective tools for learner success. But not only that, I am compelled to design engaging, motivating and yes, entertaining learning structures that makes learners want more. There is nothing more fulfilling than to see learners understand and apply what they have learned. For every design that has my name on it; this is my goal. In doing this, it is felt that improving societal perceptions will not be a struggle rather a beautiful journey. Instead of trying to emulate the classroom, it is time to step outside of proverbial box and take learning to the next level.

The argument of validity is really getting old. The same holds true for the classroom learner and the virtual online learner. Each has to apply themselves by doing the work in order to reap the benefits of learner success. There are always new technological advancements, new theories and methods of delivery. As an instructional designer, I have accepted the charge to be a life-long learner; to seek new ways and methods; be an active part of the learning community. This is a prime time for the educational industry as the global society readies itself for an anytime, anywhere learning atmosphere.

Reference

Hanz, P. J. (2007). Evaluating Online Courses. 2007 Accca Conference. Retrieved from http://www.msjc.edu/Online/Documents/ACCCAEvalpresentation.pdf

An Accessible World

Tech2Technology’s purpose in society is to make the activities of living easier having access to more convenience and more availability. This holds true for the learning industry. Today, due to technological advancements, learners have more choices as to how they acquire knowledge. As an ID professional – ‘organizer’ of the learning experience, it is our charge to stay abreast of current trends and search ways to employ and apply, as learners are becoming more technically adept.

Virtual interactive learning is a learning technology tool which incorporates social networking and web based computing. This offers the opportunity to pair the right technology of visual effects to assist in stimulating discussion and collaboration. One tool to utilize for these types of activities is virtual tours. Virtual tours are panoramic views composed of many still photos or video frames to present an overall view for each angle of the subjects. This method of delivery is widely used across industries to include tourism and real estate, which have wholly embraced virtual tours (eLearning Industry, n.d.). The innovation of virtual tours has streamlined business, saving time and money for users. Being cost saving, comprehensive virtual tours allows visitors using a desktop computer or a mobile device to take self-guided tours room-by-room.

References

eLearning Industry (n.d). How to design interactive virtual classroom training. Retrieved from http://elearningindustry.com/6-tips-design-interactive-virtual-classroom-training

dl-mind-map

Distance learning has come a long way from mail correspondence and scheduled television broadcasts. For those who can remember, distance learning was categorized with Sesame Street and drawing “Binky” off the back of a matchbook. There were only 3 choices of acquiring instruction (then called correspondence courses) for the distance learner: postal mail, radio and television broadcasts. The teacher or instructor had full control of the class time, using all of it for lecturing. Dull, don’t you think? This platform of learning through media was touted as the most innovative and convenient way of acquiring knowledge, as it should have been. But, looking back from a 21st century perspective, we see the early processes of distance learning presented a myriad of restrictions upon the learner and teacher.

Today, as we look back, we have to pay homage to the early beginnings of distance learning because it did lay a firm foundation for today’s virtual way of learning. This global society has evolved technically to the point of real-time. Distance learners now have choices; those how, when and where kind of choices; the choices that render the learner the ability to acquire knowledge at their own pace and time. It is all about investment and accountability for today’s distance learner.

We as learning professionals know about all the tools and resources that are available for designing and developing effective learning, don’t we? As for this blogger, learning is a process of succession as it is with the development and provision of such learning. There is life beyond for distance learning and its industry because its methods, theories and practices have always changed and evolved through the challenges of trial and error and debate. The learning professional community will continue to challenge theory and rise to the occasion in the advent of new technological advancements as they occur. The capabilities of the ‘virtuality’ of the internet are immense as it continues to advance. And, as these advancements occur, so will our ability to deliver engaging and effective learning events and experience at a distance. Now, doesn’t that make you feel warm inside? 

Open Course Websites & Distance Learning Designs

Coursera is a nonprofit conglomerate of Universities that provides free online courses in numerous subjects. The course chosen is facilitated by the University of Maryland and the subject is business, specifically, “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship.”

As stated in the course text, best practices in distance education course designs must adhere to certain systemic measures to ensure and effective design. These are interrelated components that work in concert to achieve the finished product. Though at times the process may seem a bit redundant, some of these practices are to be executed at multiple levels. At any rate, the end result and goal is always ensuring students receive the most from the learning event (Simonson, 2015).

Coursera seems to have embraced these practices of design. The website’s layout is user-friendly and informs the student with brief overviews of the length of the class, which is four weeks; suggested time allotment for study; lists the different languages the course is offered; introduces the student to the instructor and most important, the student is able to view and print the course syllabus (Coursera, 2015).

Another standout for this open course website is the number of access options. Students are able to enter the class by personal or laptop computer, iPhone or iPad.  The syllabus shows the design to be interactive in ways that allow the student to independently explore and manipulate the information through application (Coursera, 2015).

References

Coursera (2015). Retrieven from https://www.coursera.org/course/innovativeideas

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance:Foundations of distance education (6th Edition).