Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Analyzing Scope Creep

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

I do not have much experience with projects and scope creep, but from a personal perspective I can relate to projects I have taken on in my home.  I have written a lot about house projects throughout the course, but when I think of projects, all I can think of are house projects.  About two and a half years ago my wife and I moved into our house.  Since then I have spent my free time remodeling sections of the house.  I try to go room by room, so we do not have multiple projects going on at the same time.  When one project is finished we will take a break, then start a new one.  Recently my wife and I decided it was time to start working on the kitchen.  My wife understands my busy schedule, and was just asking me to get paint on the walls.  I estimated for the paint to be on the walls in two weeks.  Just working in the evening and on the weekends.  The wallpaper had to come off, holes needed patched, and then the walls needed paint. 

As the project progressed, we thought to ourselves, and remembered how we would like to blow out the wall entering the family room from the kitchen and creating a breakfast bar.  At this point, the kitchen is all prepped and ready for paint.  We got advice from our SME (my friend Matt) about how difficult and expensive it would be to remove the wall and create a breakfast bar.  After getting advice from Matt, my wife and I decided to blow the wall out now before we paint the kitchen.  If we are going to start remodeling the kitchen, we mine as well do what we want now.  After about a week of plastering and sanding scope creep issues became apparent.  As the project progressed, we decided to change our plan for the whole project (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).  It was no longer going to take one more week to paint.  It was going to take a week to tear the old wall down, a week reroute wires, and a week to build a breakfast bar.  All together the two-week project would now take a month to a month and a half to finish.  My wife went back to her notepad that had the steps to completion and rewrote it to include the steps of removing a wall and creating a breakfast bar. 

The biggest issue we encountered with the new addition to the project was controlling dust, and the extended time the project would now need.  Living under construction is not easy, especially when it is your kitchen under construction.  It is hard to control dust in the kitchen, so we had to cover up all the furniture in the living room to keep the dust off of it.  To deal with the new time constraints we really focused on keeping track of the progress and documenting it.  Our daily and weekly status reports were prepared and documented in the form of pictures.  We did not refer to these updates as status reports, but they were in a way informal status reports.  According to Stolovitch (n.d.) scheduling daily project reviews, and discussing the progress of the project will help keep the team focused and on track.  My project only involved my wife and I, but we did sit down together and discuss the difficulties and successes of the project.  I gave my wife the extended deadline (1 month ), and we agreed to have it completed by then. 

References

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.

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.). Monitoring Projects (Video Program).  Laureate Education Inc.

 

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Communicating Effectively

Posted: March 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
Interpretation of each Modality

My interpretation of the message from the email to the face-to-face modality changed quite a bit.  The email was the hardest modality to get a feel for.  There were only words to interpret.  When I read the email, I felt Jane was angry with Mark, and that she was not asking Mark for the report, but telling him.  She seemed pushy in the email.  When Jane says, “ I might miss my own deadline if I don’t get you report soon”, I took that as rushing Mark to finish the report and get it sent to her immediately (The Art of Effective Communication, n.d.).

The voicemail was a bit easier for me to interpret because it had audio, and you could her the tone Jane uses.  According to Stolovitch (n.d.), effective communication is influenced by the tone of the conversation (or voicemail).  Jane still seemed concerned about the report, but she seemed more understanding in the fact that Mark has been in an all day meeting, and did not have a chance to send the report.  You could tell from Jane’s tone that she is more worried about meeting her own deadline, and then she is about meeting the actual deadline.  She knows she will get the report; she just wanted to remind Mark.

The face-to-face modality was much easy to interpret because you could read Jane’s body language as well as her tone.  Effective communication is also influenced by body language, and Jane’s body language was relaxed (Stolovitch, n.d.).  I felt as though Jane’s body language was relaxed because she was leaning on the divider with her arms comfortably resting on top of the divider (The Art of Effective Communication, n.d.).   She is not shouting or talking fast, and she is not pacing around the office.  Those would both tell me that she is frustrated, upset, and possibly worried about the deadline.  She seems more understanding of Marks busy schedule.

The True Meaning

The true meaning and the intent of the message were conveyed best through the face-to-face modality.  Being able to look Jane in the eyes, hear her tone, and read her body language gave the message its true meaning.  The intent of the message was not to be demanding, and it was not meant to rush Mark.  It was simply intended to remind Mark, once he finished his meeting.  When Jane and Mark’s project roles were assigned, they agreed to share the responsibility of the report, something Portny et al (2008) lists as a guideline to follow when assigning project roles.  With this responsibility comes the need to be held accountable.  Jane and Mark have made a promise to each other and the success of the project may depend on their shared responsibilities (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).

Implications

It is important to consider the words, tone, and body language used when trying to communicate effectively with other members of your team.  When it comes to email, you need to make sure you select words that do not unintentionally give team members the wrong message.  Keep the tone “business friendly and respectful” (Stolovitch, n.d.).  I would use email to communicate minor details, and information that will not get misinterpreted.  Use email to ask questions and check up with the team.  Voicemail would be a more appropriate avenue for communicating needs, problems, or failures.  I would still prefer to meet face-to-face, but that is not always possible.  You can still get a good sense of the messages tone through a voicemail though.  It would be ideal to meet face-to-face every time a problem or concern arises.  According to Stolovitch (n.d.), it is best to communicate important information to the team when they are all present.  When working with a team, it is important to remember how the message was delivered.  Communicate with your team to clear up the intent of the message.

References

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.

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders (multimedia program).  Laureate Education Inc.

The art of effective communication (multimedia program).  Laureate Education Inc.

 

    

As an educator, I do not have much experience with projects.  Most of my projects involve creating effective lessons and teach students content.  I decided to look at my course project from my last Walden course.  The course project for the Distance Learning course required me to use a Course Management System (CMS) to develop a hybrid course.  A hybrid, or blended course teaches the majority of the content online, but there still are traditional classroom meetings (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  I chose to use Course Sites by Blackboard as the CMS for my Orientation for the Philosophy of Education course.  I was required to develop three modules for the potential students to work on each week.  The first module introduced the students to the technology tools they needed to understand how to use for the course.  The second module explained how students could be successful in the Orientation course.  The third and final module provided an annotated list of resources that will help the students throughout the course.  The project scored a 3 out 5.  Not the best score, but it did have areas of success.

 

When thinking about the most gratifying or satisfying part of the project, I feel that the video mashups had the biggest area of success (Greer, 2010).  The video mashups gave me the option to differentiate the instruction and add more interest and variation to the course.  Students often get bored with text, and could use alternate ways to learn the content.  It would be hard to keep learners motivated by just using text.  I also believe the project was successful in the fact that it was created to develop the students skills and knowledge that they must have to be successful (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).  The project was created with the assumption that the learners are new to online education, and it helps them become familiar with the technology tools, successful attributes, and important resources.

 

There were also processes and artifacts that were not included that could have made the project more successful.  The biggest part of the project that was not included was content knowledge.  I briefly touched upon different content areas, but the instructor expected more.  To make the project more successful I should have paid a closer look to the grading rubric, and reviewed it multiple times to ensure I have all the areas covered.  The instructor could have also made the project easier to understand by providing a few project examples that show what he was looking for.  That way I can compare performance, and with plans, and fix problems that came up when the instructor reviewed the project modules (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).

 

Resources

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

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.

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

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on Distance Education

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week marks the end of the distance-learning course.  In this last distance learning blog it is important to reflect upon the knowledge gained throughout the course, and the knowledge that needs to be continued.  This course started with the simple 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 (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 7 & 32).  Throughout the course this definition was broke down and defined in greater detail.  From the foundations and theories of distance education, to the designing and facilitating of distance education.  The following questions will be answered in this reflection.  What is the future of distance education?  How can I as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning?  How will I be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education?

The Future of Distance Education

            According to Siemens (2010), the biggest challenge for the future of distance education is to make the learners more comfortable.  As distance education continues to evolve and the instructional designers become more comfortable with distance education, then the learners will continue to become more comfortable.  In five to ten years distance education will be even more accepted than it is today.  There will be more research on the success of distance education, and learners will be increasingly interested in an education that is conveniently located online, and available from your own home.  In the last five years, we started to see online communication technologies that have the capability to bring people together in live video formats from all over the world.  Siemens (2010) believes that new communication tools will impact the future of distance education. Tools that will bring people together in even better ways than today.  To close the comfort gap instructional designers will have to continue to use multimedia and games to increase student motivation and engagement.

Improving Societal Perceptions of Distance Education

            To improve societal perceptions it is important to make the people aware of the challenges and how they are being fixed.  If we can overcome the challenges, then society can become more comfortable (Siemens, 2010).  Schmidt & Gallegos (2001), identify the biggest concern people have with distance education is the interaction between the instructor and the students.  Schmidt & Gallegos’s (2001) survey that was given to college students highlighted this as one of the main concerns.  Respondents suggested the interaction could be increased through chat rooms, phone calls, and once a week meetings (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001).  I personally believe that meeting once a week would be the best solution, but I would have the meeting online in a synchronous one-on-one video.  Traditional courses require a lot of time, and learners with full-time jobs and family responsibilities may not have the option of driving to a university and spending time in a classroom.  Society needs to understand that distance education caters to the needs of the full-time workers and full-time family members.  They “no longer need to revolve their life around school hours” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p.5).  It gives them the opportunity to advance their knowledge, while still fulfilling their other obligations.

Positive Force for Continuous Improvement in Distance Education

            In my current position as a sixth grade math teacher in a traditional classroom, I need to provide the students with technology experiences.  The students I teach need to have technology experiences because their future in education will most likely involve technology.  As distance education becomes more accepted, I believe it will start to become more popular in the k-12 classrooms.  The benefits to distance education will continue to grow, and to help students feel more comfortable I must give them experiences with technology tools.  It is my responsibility as an instructional designer to stay updated and comfortable with new technology tools.  Communication is the another area of concern in distance education, so it is important for me to communicate with my students in multiple ways (email, podcasts, online discussions).  If the opportunity comes available I would enjoy teaching at a distance, and I will need to remember what makes students successful and comfortable in an online setting.

The future of distance education is unknown.  We can only assume distance education will evolve and become more accepted.  The technology tools we see today are amazing when you look back at what we had five or ten years ago.  I would expect the same thing in the next five to ten years.  It is hard to imagine what education will look like in ten years, but I would assume distance education would be in it.  There will always be the process of learning new technology tools, and people will need to accept the new tools as they have accepted the tools in the past.  I am seeing a shift with students from a traditional lecture/ drill and practice setting, to a more interactive/independent setting.  The acceptance of distance education will continue to improve.

References

Schmidt, D., & Gallegos, A. (2001).  Distance learning: Issues and concerns of distance learners. Journal of Industrial Technology, 17(3). Retrieved from: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html

Siemens, G. (2010). The future of distance education (Video Program). Laureate Education 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.

 

Best Practice Guide

Posted: February 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week I was responsible for creating a best practice guide for converting a course to a distance learning format.

The Scenario:

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.

Best Practice Guide

The best practice guide identifies the major areas the training manager will need to consider when converting his course to a blended format.  First, we will need to consider some pre-planning strategies.  He needs to consider  the changes to the learning environment.  Synchronous vs. Asynchronous.  Then he will need to consider the design of the blended course.  When designing the course he will need to rewrite the learning objectives, and make sure all activities and assignments are directly related to those objectives.

Two of the enhancements identified in the Best Practices Guide are the online access to the training materials and resources, and the overall quality of the communication.  Offering online access to materials and resources makes it more convenient for the learners, and it gives them the opportunity to locate the materials and resources any time and any where.  I believe the overall quality of the communication will be enhanced because online discussions give the learners time to think and respond to discussion questions and thoughts.

The role of the trainer will become increasingly important when it comes to the student-led online discussions.  It will be the trainers responsibility to participate in the discussions, and provide thought-provoking question.  It is also the trainers role to unsure the students are receiving quick feedback from discussions and assignments.  The trainers role in communicating with learners will be extremely important in an online environment.  The trainers need to remain in constant contact with the learners.  The trainer needs to keep a close eye on his trainees.

It is equally important for the trainer to encourage learners to communicate online.  This should be a simple step as long as the trainer as successfully pre-planned the course and is communicating online daily with the learners.  Before the course began, the trainer should have set up the syllabus and Course Management system with his email, and he should have written down the best way to contact him.  If the trainer is communicating as frequently as he should, than the students will notice the communication has been all online, and they will follow the instructors lead.

To read the entire Best Practice Guide, click on the link below:

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Posted: February 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

Open Source

“Open-source course management systems [CMS] are free educational software that are maintained by users who implement, even modify, and ultimately support their system to meet local, specific needs” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p.162).  Open source courses offer a free online education with the intent to gain knowledge, and become engaged in a new learning experience.

Open Yale Courses

Yale University offers free open source introductory courses taught by distinguished Yale professors (Yale University, 2011).  The aim of Yale Open Courses is to expand access to education resources for all learners.  The approach is intended to go beyond the acquisition of facts, and increase the learners’ ability to think independently.  The learner will expand their ability to analyze, ask questions, and to begin the search for an answer.  All the open source lectures are recordings of college classrooms and are available in audio, video and text (Yale University, 2011).

The American Revolution

In the Spring of 2010, professor Joanne Freeman taught The American Revolution course that is know offered as an open source course.  The course was originally structured to be taught for 50 minutes, 2 days a week.  The course provides a brief introduction to the course, along with a syllabus, lessons, downloads, a course survey, and a link for the courses text resources.  The majority of the courses text resources can be retrieved through an e-reader.

Pre-planning and Design

A course that was previously taught in the traditional setting may not be a successful online course.  The focus needs to shift to visuals, engaging learners, and timing of presentations (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012).  The courses offered by Yale University spent a great amount of time planning the courses, but they did not plan them to be successful for online learning.  The first issue I noticed about The American Revolution course was the omitted course learning objectives.  Dr. Piskurich (n.d.) emphasizes the importance of finding out exactly what the learners need to learn, and writing good objectives to meet these needs.  He noted that the objectives must be identified before learning activities can be created (Piskurich, n.d.).  After examining the course, and all of the resources, I have not been able to find any learning objectives.

The second issue I noticed was the lack of differentiation in the class sessions.  Each session had a list of the required readings and lectures.  The lectures could be viewed as an audio, video, or text, but it was simple listening to the professor lecture.  It did not have any differentiation.  The design phase should include activities that provide opportunities for the learners’ to explore and gain knowledge on their own.  There should be more than just lectures (Piskurich, n.d.).  Time is valuable when taking online courses, and simply showing recoded lectures does not take time into consideration.  It is important for online instructors to identify and remove any extraneous information that will take up more time (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012).

The third issue I noticed was the courses text resources.  All of the resources were text. There were no online articles or video presentations.  The site should offer effective course assets like graphics, photos, videos, links, and sound clips (Laureate Education, n.d.).  The course texts were not provided directly in the CMS, but they were linked through Yale University, and were available through an e-reader provided by Google.  It was difficult to navigate to the e-reader, and it was difficult to figure out how to get the text open.  There were no support places to go and learn more about the process.  For students to feel comfortable with the course, they need to be able to get their questions answered.  There is no course support or professor email provided.

Course Activities

The American Revolution course offered by Yale Open Courses did not offer any course activities to maximize active learning by the students.  The course syllabus identifies 2 papers and 2 exams as the only assignments due for the course.  The students are never offered any activities to engage active learning.  They are simply expected to watch class session lectures and read course texts.  Simonson et al (2012), believes distance learning faculty need to “plan activities that encourage interactivity” (p.153), and “allow for student group work” (p.153).  Group work will help the students feel they are part of the learning community, and not alone.  The site needs to create an area for collaboration between students and teachers.  The instructor should be actively involved in the course (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

Resources

Developing online courses. (n.d.)(Video program). Laureate Education Inc.

Piskurich, G. Chauser, J. (n.d). Planning and designing online courses. (Video program). Laureate Education 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.

Yale University. (2011). Open Yale Courses. Retrieved from http://oyc.yale.edu/

Yale University. (2011). The American Revolution. Retrieved from Yale Open Courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu/history/the-american-revolution

Distance Learning Technologies

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Example 2: Interactive Tour

The scenario:

A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the artwork on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?

Technology Presentation Solutions

To provide these west coast students the opportunity to visit new exhibits at two prominent New York City museums, I would suggest that the teacher uses a video podcast or a virtual tour of the museums.  “Podcasting is the process of recording and storing audio and/or video content on the Internet for downloading and play back using iPods, MP3 players, [and] computers” (p.130) (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  A video podcast can be used to show a tour of the museums with audio from a tour guide.  The students will have the ability to play, stop, and rewind the tour to meet the speed of their learning, and to go back and review important exhibits.  Several studies indicate that students who participate in podcasts exhibit higher levels of understanding, higher satisfaction, and greater motivation (The Technology of Distance Education, n.d.).  I would suggest that the teacher reserves a lab classroom for the students to access the podcast.

If possible, instead of a podcast, the teacher could use a virtual tour of the museums.  The museums would need to provide a link to the tour, and the students would need the same capabilities as a podcast to access the virtual tour.  According to Simonson et al (2012), “virtual worlds will represent the standard learning environments at some point in our future” (p.132).  A virtual tour would put the students into the museums and make them feel they are there.  It gives them the capability of looking at new exhibits in a New York City museum, even though they are sitting in their classrooms thousands of miles away.  According to Wetterlund (2008), art museums are providing educational programs to bring the museum to the classroom.  These online tours will strengthen students’ visual literacy and critical thinking skills and providing a deeper understanding of art and the history that goes with it.

 

Technology Communication Solutions

To interact with the museum tour curators I would suggest a live text chat for the students.  A live chat would give the students immediate feedback for questions that may arise during the tour.  This two-way communication tool would be an effective learning tool in a synchronous environment, where the students are logging on and watching the tour at the same time as the curator(s) (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  The students would just have to type their question into the instant message box, and the curator(s) would answer them in the order they were received.  According to Matteson, Salamon, and Brewster (2011), users are generally satisfied with live-chat because their questions are answered quickly and efficiently.  The answers are rich in information, and the user gains insightful knowledge from the curator on the other side of the chat.

Afterward the teacher wants to choose two pieces of artwork from each museum, and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art.  I would suggest for the teacher to research two artwork pieces from the museum, and create a wiki for the students to discuss the artwork with one another.  Wiki’s are designed to be created and edited by groups of people (Siminson, Smaldino, Albright, Zvacek, 2012).  They are created for the students to collaborate with the teacher and other students about a given topic or title.  I would suggest for the teacher to create the wiki with a picture of the artwork and a simple discussion prompt.  Then the students can discuss the artwork with each other, and the teacher can respond and provide feedback as well.

   References:

Matteson, M., Salamon, J., Brewster, L. (2011).  A systematic review of research on live chat service. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(2), 172-190. Retrieved from Education Research Complete.

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

The technology of distance education (multimedia program) Laureate Education Inc.

Wetterlund, K. (2008). Flipping the field trip: Bringing the art museum to the classroom. Theory into Practice, 47(2), 110-117. Retrieved form Education Research Complete.