Scope Creep: A previous Personal Project

A Bright New Day

I have always liked to express myself through writing, fine arts, and Music. This propensity is next followed by my passion for public speaking. In the early 2000’s I was writing on anything that could take a scribble. From Restaurant napkins to grocery store receipts, I wrote on the inspiration of every moment.

One day, in the middle of my muse experience, I decided to pool my scribbling together and begin the step toward publishing a book. I did not start the scribbling project with a plan to publish, but it led to a published book after 2 years. (Ogunsakin, 2007).

The shift from casual scribble to conscientious editing (self-edited) happened without a formal plan, and can be described as ‘scope creep’. Scope creep is a term used in project management, where the initial boundaries of the original project change or are adjusted in the light of ensuing circumstances.

According to Techopedia, an online resource providing Insight and inspiration for IT professionals:

Scope creep refers to a project that has seen its original goals expand while it’s in progress. As the term suggests, scope creep is a subtle process that starts with small adjustments and ends up resulting in projects that take far longer to complete or even fail before they are finished. Even if the project is completed, scope creep can result in final deliverables that look nothing like what was originally envisioned.

How did I deal with this issue?

  1. By keeping track of changes through backed-up computer files
  2. By cultivating a higher degree of patience
  3. By seeking help from others who had done some work in this area.

With the benefit of hindsight, now I would approach matters a bit differently, by planning my scope and timelines clearly, prior to project commencement.

 

Reference

Ogunsakin, T. (2007). A Bright New Day. Xulon Press. ISBN: 9781602664692 Accessible at https://g.co/kgs/9nBwyf

Techopedia (Accessed:HTTPS://www.techopedia.com/definition/24779/scope-creep)

 

Communication is Storytelling

I am a relative newcomer to the blogging scene. My first Blog was published in 2012 and it has been off & on since then. More of ‘off’ than ‘on’. I have a passion for writing because I am a storyteller at heart. I believe that people need to hear the stories of others because they can learn a thing or two. Reflection is an aid to learning because it allows for comparative analysis and critical thinking.

My first and only published book was published in 2012, and I have about three at various stages of drafting. This backlog continues to gnaw at me, and I want to break the mold of procrastination. An analogous question comes to mind, therefore:

A jockey is riding a horse in a Derby. At the end of the race, they say the horse won. Who and who was in the race?

I believe that the words of inspiration which form the theme of most of my writing, are meant not only for my readers alone but for both reader and writer because we are both in the race of life, and we should cross the finish line together. Thanks for reading my blog, and please give some comments.

Tags: Writing,  Motivation, procrastination, perseverance, passion

Project Management: The Importance of a precise schedule

 

 

Project Schedule and Estimating Activity Duration

A project plan is a road map for Project Managers (PMs), as they manage a full cascade of variables within  new projects, with an objective to bring all the moving parts to a successful conclusion. Relying on the help of the project Team and key Stakeholders, each PM tries to keep the pace of activities in sync with the project schedule, the heart of the plan.

In continuation of our mission to provide links to tools for innovative Instructional Design, a list of three online resources is published below:

  1. PROJECT PLAN AND SCHEDULE DEVELOPMENT

Effective project scheduling starts by identifying all the work required for the project long before delivery. It considers dates and resource constraints as the schedule is created. The project schedule helps any team to clearly identify everything essential to successful project conclusion.

A useful online resource: ‘INTRODUCTION: Plan and Schedule Development – Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)’, is accessible at https://engineering.tamu.edu/media/699875/planning-tasks-and-wbs.pdf

  1. PROJECT PLAN DEVELOPMENT

After the scope has been clearly defined for a project, and the work breakdown structure (WBS) has been created, the next step is to draft a schedule or timeline. This is done for every deliverable item identified in the work breakdown structure (WBS).The project planner needs to identify a list of activities needed to every phase of the project. The online resource ‘BASICS OF PROJECT PLANNING’, is Accessible at http://zilicus.com/Articles/Basics_Of_Project_Planning.pdf., and  How to plan the delivery schedule is on page 5.

  1. PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND SCHEDULING SOFTWARE

Software for drafting project plans have come a long way. GanttProject is a free project scheduling and management app for Windows, OSX and Linux. The download is available at http://www.ganttproject.biz/

In ending this blog, I just want to say that I would appreciate your comments on the topics raised, and see you next time. Thanks.

 

References

Larson, E., & Larson R. (2012). 10 Steps to Creating a Project Plan. Retrieved from https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/10-steps-to-creating-a-project-plan.html

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Creating a project schedule [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

 

 

Communicating Effectively

M  edia use in communication, is a means of extending our senses. (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2014). The rightful choice of media, the effective use of these choices, and continuous improvement research, all ensure significant results in practice. According to the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CMTL), human response to multimedia is to build meaningful connections between words and pictures, as they learn more deeply than with words or pictures alone. (Mayer, 2009).

[dropcap]Comparing three media (Email, Voicemail, and Video message), one discovers a trend of improving message quality or delivery. Email presents the message in clear script, but must be read to be understood. The assumption that the reader can interpret written words into a  clear and audible tone, it is assumed that the listener is conversant with the language being used. A video message is a form of face-to-face communication and is usually more understandable than an email or voicemail. Apart from an audible comprehension, a video message is reinforced with visual cues, and makes more meaningful communication. In effect a video message is a series of moving pictures supported by audible words and sounds.

None of these are perfect communication tools, but video gets closer to the mark, since it is rendered in 3D and in color. However, each of the tools of communication considered in this blog post should be seen as effective for a purpose. Purpose is what determines choice, for the end justifies the means.

How was meaning derived from each message medium?

  • The email had to be re-read to make sure that I understood the message.
  • The voicemail had to be re-played to make sure that I understood the message
  • The video message was played once and I understood that I needed to respond to the sender’s request completely.

The implication of this consideration, is that we have a field of choices in communication. Based on the urgency or timing of a communication need, one has one of three choices or possible combinations of any two or all three to choose from. So, in communicating with members of a project team, one would choose the medium or combination of media, based on:

  • Need for clarity vs cost
  • Time available vs sense of urgency
  • Sequence of priorities (Timeline).

This information is not for Project Managers only, but also useful for project team members to know and use, as the team executes the assigned project.

 

References

Mayer, R.E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2014). Teaching and learning at a distance. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Pub. Continue reading “Communicating Effectively”

Learning from a Project “ Post-Mortem”

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning” – Albert Einstein

PROJECT POST-MORTEM

As I review one of many recent projects, I do so to apply cumulative learnings that pertain to the rightful use of assessment, the need for appropriate application of Instructional Design methodologies, and an understanding that there is nothing like a perfect project. Projects can always be improved on, and when this continuous improvement philosophy forms the basis of strategic purpose, one can, both improve, as well as learn with excellence.

In November 2015, I completed my Masters in Higher Education with a Capstone project. It was an opportunity to apply newly learned project management principles, in a learn-by-doing format. (Greer,2001). The project was titled: Designing for Motivation and was based on literature reviews which provided the main thrust and justification for the final deliverables.

One of the reference resources which was used during the design of that project was an article published in a Blog titled: ‘Bright Hub’. (Rhinehart Neas, 2010). According to this article, a capstone project at the Masters level is meant to meet certain criteria:

  • it should be academically sound
  • research should be inclusive and holistic
  • it should culminate in a lasting project that can be carried on by others
  • it should scaffold on prior as well as recently acquired knowledge
  • the presentation should inspire others to participate or inquire
  • the final paper should be detailed, yet concise

These considerations will be added to my post-Morten review parameters. The full review follows below:

Getting my bearings

This was my first real academically focused capstone project as I was introduced to the basics of project management at the beginning of the Capstone course. Working with groups, I honed many skills which would eventually prepare me for the rigors of the final project.

Processes, Artifacts, & Activities included in the project

  • Interactive pre-course questionnaire for asynchronous audience
  • Registration instructions for an online communications tool
  • Narrated automated PowerPoint slideshow (Main Training Module)
  • Interactive post-course questionnaire
  • A Capstone Paper, documenting the project process.

Processes, Artifacts, & Activities not included

  • Interactive pre-course questionnaire for synchronous audience
  • A flow chart of learning objectives scaffold as introduction
  • Summary slides within the presentation to pause and allow metacognitive review
  • A more intensive and focused participant search
  • A plan for implementation of formative feedback data.
  • A detailed project plan

Summary

One of the key steps of Project Management (PM), is the preparation of a Statement of Work (SOW) or Project Charter (PC) document. These are initiating documents which allow a consensus to be reached and which provide inputs from the Project Manager’s or Instructional Designer’s expertise in the generation of project dynamics. ‘Designing for Motivation’, being an academic project did not have the luxury of agreeing initiating parameters. However, it was understood at the time, that certain elements would not match real-life scenarios and these would be in what Project Managers call ‘assumptions’.

This project was successful because the deliverables were innovative and applicable to the scenario identified in the needs analysis. In the process of designing the training module, it was determined that the format had to be accessible synchronously as well as asynchronously. Since some of the respondents were resident in other States, this was achieved through a series of innovative communications (emails, text and Skype). The Stakeholder/Respondent email contained an explanation of the project and what was required of prospective participants. The time frames of project start-off and completion were clearly stated, though, I had to do extra communications to get at least 10 respondents, when previously accepted respondents changed their minds. To avoid this frustration, I would allocate at least 2 months to my respondent search ahead of project commencement, and utilize more selection parameters.

The most gratifying and professionally satisfying part of the project, was that I was able to combine much of my previous learning in creating the training module, and lay the ground work for my future research study.  With the benefit of this work, I can redesign the participant selection tool. Also, one thing I would change is the mixed offering platform of synchronous & Asynchronous to fully synchronous.

References

Greer, M. (2001). The project manager’s partner: A step-by-step guide to project management. Human Resource Development.

Ogunsakin, T. (2015). Designing for motivation. Final Capstone project at Walden University.

Rhinehart Neas, L. M. (2010). How to Create a Master’s Degree Capstone Project [Blog] Accessible at http://www.brighthub.com/education/postgraduate/articles/72316.aspx

Welcome to Project Management

    WELCOME

Welcome everyone,

For those who are new to this Blog site (Design4intelligence), I am glad you are here. This is a site with updates on Instructional Design innovation and news.

I also welcome your ideas and tips, because ID is a team effort. Please sign up for RSS feeds (Posts, Comments or both), and new submissions will come to your inbox at the speed of a click.

See you soon.

Temitope Ogunsakin

 

Distance Learning

Prior to starting my studies of Distance Learning (Distance Education) within the Instructional Design Graduate program, I had majored in Higher Education, with a specialization in Online and Distance Learning. I had chosen to further study Instructional Design because my research revealed that this group of Professionals grip the reins of the Education infrastructure in a way that merits recognition and appreciation. My understanding of Distance Education at the time was basically centered around the trend of Higher Education Institutions wanting to extend their offerings to students outside their walls, increase enrolment and better the financial returns. This picture was centered around the marketability of Higher Education and Student enrolment. For the purpose of this Blog, I will stay with the term Distance Learning (DL).
My understanding of DL has morphed in the past week, as I enter the new phase of my learnings. First, I have read a brief history of Distance Education and realized that it has been in existence for over 100 years. The predecessor of Distance Education, Correspondence Courses, has been in existence about 160 years. Though styles have changed, and participants varied, the core purpose has not.
Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, (2015), traced the transitions of DL from its application in Correspondence Courses in the early 90’s, to the use of electronic communications and fiber optics (a derivative of space-age technology) & more recently, computer-based technology. With what I call the ‘different eras of DL’, the purpose did not change, however, instruments and tools changed as the definitions of this practice changed.
In the light of the current practice of DL, and my rather basic understanding of it, the following is my revised definition:
Distance Learning is a multifaceted platform of activity, which traverses all areas of Human learning. It is institutionalized, delivered at a distance by the use of regularly updating technology, and relies heavily on feedback, multimedia, and graphic user interfaces. The two most prominent sectors of DL activity are Formal Education & Businesses.
It is with this view in mind, that I present the following summary of my understanding of the future of DL:
1. The driver for change in DL will remain two key elements: Technology & Customer requirements. The identified Customers to the process are Learners, Educational Institutions, Business Enterprises, Government Institutions & Individuals with Learning needs. All these Customers will update trends in development and design by their feedback to vendors and Instructional Designers, thus managing the deployment of upgrades and reviews in existing designs.
2. The role of Instructional Designers will filter down to a more neuroscientifically based one, one in which assessments and designs will improve in sensitivity for Learner needs, and end user responses.(Moller, Foshay,& Huett,2008)
3. Educational Institutions will commission the creation of more original online learning materials, rather than propose the conversion of existing materials to online formats.

Below is a Mindmap of my considerations:

 

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

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.

Reflection: Theories and Applications

This serves as my reflection on the past eight weeks of studying Learning theories and allied subjects. While studying learning styles, as well as having discussions with colleagues on the discussion boards, I identified various techniques. Dr. Keller’s ARCS model merged seamlessly with the foundations in learning theory, thus making application easy. Provided reference materials were very useful, but not as accessible as they had been in previous course weeks. And, based on what I learned about scaffolding and the use of increasing complexity of learning modules to stretch cognition, I believe that the course designers have used this strategy well to help students gain skills and techniques which will help the Instructional Design career as we move forward.

Introduced to Blogs and RSS feeds early in the course, I was able to design and publish this blog site (Design4intelligence). It is blog directed at Instructional designers, focusing on design methodologies, design tools, and best practices. Within these eight weeks, Design4intelligence has had seven new posts and various constructive comments from readers. I have also subscribed to six RSS feeds from allied blogs, and I am glad I was introduced to blogging as a tool for engaging my professional world as well as a constructivist learning tool employing Connectivist methodologies. I have also enjoyed using mindmap designs in my publications.

The materials which dealt with Andragogy as a different science when compared to Pedagogy, helped me understand the usefulness and focus of both areas of study (Pew, S. 2007). I think the Instructional Designer of today’s Online class modules needs to be well aware of the principles in both. Due to the diversity of today’s classroom, separation may not be as easy as theory suggests, therefore, I see a merged approach being the most feasible choice. I proposed in one of my Discussion posts, an andra-pedagogical approach. Also, I came across a term: Heutagogy, in the process of my studies, and it will probably be the focus of some of my research in the future. (Hase & Kenyon, 2000)

I was quite excited when in the final weeks of this course, we started on the subject of motivation. Having had challenges with motivation many years ago as a newcomer to the virtual classroom, I was glad that a pet interest of mine which developed into a capstone paper last year, could receive the boost that came with my learnings in this class on ‘Motivation’. I am absolutely convinced of the tremendous impact that Instructional Designers can bring to bear on student engagement, motivation, learning and success through the application of resourceful and focused design strategies. (Huett, Moller, Young, Bray & Huett, 2008) (Huett, Kalinowski, Moller & Huett, 2008).

References

Hase, S., & Kenyon, C. (2000). From andragogy to heutagogy. Ultibase Articles, 5(3), 1-10.

Huett, J., Kalinowski, K., Moller, L., & Huett, K. (2008). Improving the motivation and retention of online students through the use of ARCS-based E-mails. American Journal of Distance Education, 22(3), 159–176.

Huett, J., Moller, L., Young, J., Bray, M., & Huett, K. (2008). Supporting the distant student: The effect of ARCS-based strategies on confidence and performance. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 9(2), 113–126.

Pew, S. (2007). Andragogy and pedagogy as foundational theory for student motivation in higher education. Insight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 2, 14–25.

 

Fitting the Pieces Together

At the beginning of my odyssey into the world of learning theories and their implications for Instructional design, I wrote about a few things I could remember about my own learning activities. I use the word ‘remember’ because it was an exercise after-the-fact. I found out that over the years, most of my learning had been subconscious. I had taken learning for granted, almost as we all take breathing for granted, and had not consciously ‘observed’ the transitions or steps I took in learning. In other words, I had not consciously adopted strategies, neither was I labelled by a learning style.

With weeks of researching texts on learning, engaging in discussions with other learners, and using what I have now labelled ‘ My learning network’,  I have integrated layers of new discovery into my thinking. Almost as Archimedes screamed eureka!, on discovering the law of density and floatation, I had found an insight into a process which had dwelled under my ‘nose’ (so-to-speak) all the time. I too could scream Eureka, now!

Now, I understand the following:

  • Though learning is taken for granted most of the time, it surely is taking place, more subconsciously than consciously.
  • Different people may have different approaches to learning based on their understanding. No one is really wrong, what could be a failure, is failing to meet an objective.
  • Approaches form part of strategies and start with styles which are based on the nature of the material or situation at hand.

I was intrigued by the work of Philosophers and thinkers like Bandura, Vygotsky, and Siemens. All taking a piece of the learning experience and proposing theories on observable phenomena. Their theories got me to be more inquisitive about my own learning process, a process I had taken for granted for too long.Learning

Fig 1. A Mind map with an overview of my Learning

Studying Learning theories has given me a composite understanding of the underlying structures of learning. There are sub-processes which subconsciously lead toward eventual learning and by these one identifies with a predominant learning style. The application of a style is a learning strategy, and a very significant aspect of my strategy is a learning network of sources of information. Composed of Libraries, blogs, mentors, internet links etc., my sources of information come together in a learning matrix, the core of which is the driving engine of technology. I use technology to source, record, share and evaluate facts, data and information.