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