Sunday, April 13, 2014

Analyzing Scope Creep

Most people have a little fear when it comes to change, this can be positive or negative based on the reaction. I can reflect back to scope creep (now that I know what it is) to getting my students ready for state and national Skills USA competitions. Regardless of how well planned and organized you are, you cannot possible anticipate people and behavior. I had rosters planned, buses reserved, payments, uniforms, contest supplies, meal tickets, and permission forms. Good gosh, could there be anything else?   Why yes, welcome to high school.
Scope Creep is known as “the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses”  (Portny, Mantel,  Meredith,  Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008, p. 350). My natural tendency is to include all the students. An impossible task.  As each day passes, my student roster changes due to failing grades of the students. This causes everything to change, buses, payments, contestants, etc. My problem seems to be that I wanted more and more students to compete. I overburdened myself by adding more students.
Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer (2008), believe that with every project change there needs to be a change order that includes a description of the agreed upon change and any other changes to the plan, process, budget or schedule. For me this included email communication with skills usa, the bus depot, the lunch committee, and of course parents.
How to avoid or mange scope creep
Begin with a scope statement that spells out the project and is agreed upon by the students (maintain passing grades) and parents.
Payment penalty could work for this project in that parents want a deal and therefore would submit payment before the due date (no refund for failing grades) and encourage students to perform better in all classes or risk losing money.
Managing change is important in that it could be costly or could jeopardize the whole project.  Using technology with this project simple project helped me manage, rearrange and delete students without causing disruption to the entire list that fed into and created other list. (Bus list fed to the lunch list and so on).
The best approach to manage scope creep is to set up a well-controlled, formal process whereby changes can be introduced and accomplished with as little distress as possible using a change control system (Portny 2008). A change control system is to do the following:

  1. Scope statement
  2. Communication and approval from stakeholders
  3. Use of technology to create small manageable sections
  4. Negotiate changes

Portny, S., Mantel, S., Meredith, J., Shafer, S., Sutton, M., & Kramer, B. (2008). Project Management: Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling Projects. Wiley & Sons Inc.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Effective Communication

“The key to successful project management is effective communication.” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Schafer, and Sutton (2008).   Every day we are charged with communicating with people, but in some instances the message is not always received in the intended way. Tone can be perceived in various ways depending on the media of the communication. (Portny,2008),  noted “the ability to communicate well, both orally and in writing, is a critical skill for project managers. Effective communication should be influenced by (1) spirit and attitude, (2) tonality and body language, (3) timing, and (4) personality of the recipient (Stolovitch, 2014).
The first modality used to deliver the message was via email. The write, Jane expresses understanding of how busy Mark is, but still with a little sense of urgency stress how dependent she and her work is to his. Based on the level of technology that Mark has in his all day meeting, this message could be received and thus communication would be complete. However, lack of technology could create a wall for this type of communication. Written communication should be identified with a clear purpose followed by an explanation of the issues and it should include suggestions for potential solutions. (Laureate, 2014). This email message does set a clear purpose and does offer two solutions, however the time line element is missing.  Email is great for keeping documentation because it is important in case a problem arises (Stolovitch, 2014). I feel as if it is a suggestion and not a demand based on the tone that I perceived in the email.  
Voice mail
The message of the voice mail is the same as the email, but does communicate a little differently. This type of communication does not allow for instant feedback or clarification.  The voice mail seems to demonstrate an authoritative tone which may not be well received as it could put the receiver on the defensive or simply be misunderstood; however in my opinion it seems courteous and professional.

Face to Face
I like face to face communication as opposed to most other methods, but that is simply a personal choice. Where I find email a faster easier approach, I still prefer face to face communication due to the immediate satisfaction that I seek.  This style can change the interpretation of the message. Others can see this as aggressive and rude because it puts the other person on the spot.  While this does appear that she is talking to Mark due to the nodding of her head and use of her hands. The body language and nonverbal cues soften the tone of the message. Due to Mark’s schedule this may not be the best method at this time. This can create a gap in attention and therefore understanding. F2F communication will give the most immediate results for what Jane needs based on her timeline of submitting her own work. Mark can give an immediate answer.

The modality of each communication provided only a slightly different interpretation based on contextual cues. Verbal and non verbal cues can influence how a message is received based on the relationship of the people involved. This relationship can influence the sending and receiving of the message. Portny, et al. (2008) recommended developing a communications plan to address formal and informal communications, both oral and written, as part of the planning process to ensure that all team members are aware of the expectations for communicating information related to the project.
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.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Post Mortem-CPR

Post-Mortem-CPR Project
Projects should be planned carefully to ensure that the deliverables are met.  As such, certain elements are essential during the planning process. For example, these elements include defining the project, developing a plan, and deliver the project in a timely manner within budget constraints. Last year, I was contacted by a CPR instructor and asked to participate in a project with her to train 75 teachers in CPR and then certify them as CPR instructors.

A needs analysis was conducted through a survey of teachers to determine how many were already certified, how many held an expired certification and how many were already CPR instructors at some point.  This was important information to understand where the training should begin. Would there need to be a novice class, an intermediate class for those who had been certified in the past and then how many would need to be taught how to be an instructor verses those who just needed to demonstrate technique and show class rosters of participants?

I met with the instructor who had hired me and did a little planning and looked at the survey results. All teachers had been certified in the past yet no one had ever been certified as an instructor. We determined we needed three sessions.

           Part 1: Demonstrate CPR to the group, practice with the group, and certify the group in CPR.
           Part 2: Certify the teacher on how to train the students including the use of videos, worksheets, rubrics                      and grading.
           Part 3: Train the teachers on how to complete and submit the student rosters. ( This allows the student to                  then be certified in CPR)
I was a co trainer, so I assumed that the instructor would be prepared for the training.  We did not have a brainstorming session that defined our roles. We were not creating deliverables but were planning to execute the ones already in place. We spoke briefly about what she wanted me to do.

My job duties included:
  •             Unpack and assemble the mannequins, the manuals, the videos and the face shields.
  •             Set up the sign in rosters for the teachers.
  •             Observe teachers as they demonstrate technique and check off the tasks on the rubric.
  •             Assist 4 groups of 4 students each (16 teachers) on being an instructor. This includes planning              instruction for the other student in the class.


The instructor did not check the school that we were using for training to see if they had working technology for the videos, such as projector and screen or television and DVD player. This was not available in the room and the time delay in searching for this set us back by 45 minutes. The rosters and the rubrics were not printed prior to the teacher’s arrival. We both arrived 1 hour early to set up. I was unfamiliar with the type of mannequins that the instructor had and it took me much longer than expected to set up the mannequins for practice.
Most of this could have been avoided by simply creating an implementation strategy and ensuring that the deliverables and the technology was ready. This project also had multiple objectives and multiple tasks that included certification and instructor requirements. This training could be better by following the Phases of the Project Management:
  •            Planning-We could have met to enhance communication.
  •            Scheduling-This phase is to coordinate people and resources to achieve the goals of the training.
  •            Controlling-Monitoring progress of the project by anticipation of problems and have backup plans
  •            Terminating-taking action to prevent problems in the future. Evaluation of the instructor is critical           for improving.

The project manager needs to be flexible, identify impacts of changes, and communicate the advantages and disadvantages of the change. (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008)


           Lin, H. (2006). Instructional project management: An emerging professional practice for design and training programsWorkforce Education Forum, 33(2).Reprinted by permission of the author.

           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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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Reflection on Distance Learning

 The current perspective on distance learning is changing to a more positive outlook and the rapidly developing world of technology is contributing to the shift. The demanding schedules of the working America is now demanding education that is more flexible and more time conscious for the student. The benefits of distance learning are becoming clearer as more people enroll and take course. George Siemens (2010), in speaking on the future of distance education, spoke of bridging the gap of comfort and explaining that as learners have more experience with technologies they will be more comfortable with using them in an educational format. Instructional designers can continue to change the perspective of distance learning by
Electronic communication now means that the student and the instructor no longer have to be in the same time or place for the acquisition of knowledge. The equivalency theory states that distance courses should be equivalent but not identical to F2F courses.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, pp. 52-53).  It is the learning activities that will look different though the outcomes will be the same. The use of Skype, Face Time, Google hangout all allow for real time communication.
With the internet and technology being one of the best teachers and sources of information in world, people now know more than they have ever known and are demanding to continue learning in many different ways. Teaching without interaction is not teaching. It is providing information and students and they no longer need teachers to do that. One student asked me this week, how are pencils made. We spent the next hour watching videos from the internet on how things are made and then wrote a reflection about it is done.  Definitely a learning experience for all.
I love this quote about eLearning. It really speaks volume about the job of the Instructional Designer (ID) “The most profound words will remain unread and unheard unless you can keep the learner engaged. You can't see their eyes to know if they got it so ... say it, show it, write it, demo it and link it to an activity”. James Bates
ID must create course and activities that engage, provoke critical thinking skills, require participate and provide learning that meets the needs of the students. Multimedia provides resources that can be more effective than text and images alone. (Simonson et al.,  2012)
As a teacher, changing the perspective of at least one student is a success, so if by speaking out about my personal experiences as a distance learning student and continuing my growth as an Instructional Designer changes the perspective of at least one but counting on many then I am successful. I am trying to flip my Forensic high school classroom and I hope this will ease the anxieties of my senior about entering college and taking courses online. Most high school students think of college in terms of the traditional F2F classes because they have very limited information and access to online course except as credit recovery. By continuing to focus on student centered learning, teachers can prepare future learners for distance learning.
Due to the fun stigma attached to living on campus, joining fraternities/sororities and the overall college experience, it seems unlikely that the young first time college students will give all that up for purely distance learning, but the mature working group with families, it will still be the most chosen method of continued education.


The future of distance education [Video webcast]. (2010). [With Dr. George Siemens]. Laureate Education. Retrieved from

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

Spicer, J. (Designer). (2012, 07 16). [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Saturday, February 22, 2014


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 time. 

  • What are the pre-planning instructions that the trainer needs to consider before converting to the blended learning environment?
  • What aspects of the training program could be enhanced for the distance learning format?
  • What is the role of the instructor or trainer?
  • What steps should the instructor take to encourage the trainees to communicate online? 
  • With the advancement of technology and societies ever changing view of the public school system, the demand for learning is changing.

Planning an online course for the first time should begin 3-5 months in advance of the course’s start date (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek 2012)
Since the data will be stored on a server for later use, the appropriate CMS or LMS must be chosen. The content, method of delivery, and environment must be carefully considered. The ADDIE model is used by the Instructional Designer to meet the needs of the students through the design of the course.

Analysis:  Study the environment in
order to understand it and describe
the goals and objectives.
Design: Defines he learning objectives
Development: Build the content of the
course and the learning materials.
Implementation: Putting the course into
Evaluation: Formative and Summative
evaluation. Use to evaluate the
course and the learning


The ADDIE model is the blue print for instructional designers. 


By using the addie model of design, the unique characteristics of the learners can be considered and content can be adjusted to meet the needs.
When designing the course, avoid “shovelware”, which Simonson says is dumping traditional class material onto the web and calling it an online course. (et. al., 2012, p. 134) Online activities should meet a specific learning objective.
Blended courses include activities that are substituted for a portion of the actual seat time in an otherwise face to face conventional course.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek 2012, p. 125).
 Planning for distance education "must occur well in advance of the scheduled instruction" (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 153).  Consider the following strategies when planning for a blended learning experience.  Strategies include:  

Face to Face Instruction
Blended Learning
Teacher led instruction
Shift Instruction to visual and timed presentations.
Keeping student attention
Illustrate key concepts, using tables and other visuals like pie charts.
Lecture,  group work
Discussion boards that provide interactivity
Technology Failures
Always have a backup plan that includes activities and projects outside of the computer and alternate ways to communicate. Fax, email. (p. 161)

(Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 153).  

The training manager needs to consider the following components necessary for a successful online course: the learners, the content, the method of delivery, the material, the learning environment, and the technology necessary for learning to occur (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek 2012, p.137).
The feedback may help him determine whether the blended-learning environment is really the right format for his training. (Simonson et al, p. 127)
What aspects of his original training program could be enhanced in the distance learning format?
The content for the course needs to be sufficient to ensure the entire learning experience will lead to the desired outcome. (Simonson et al, p.157)  The challenge of education is to match the content of the subject to the needs of the learner. (Simonson et al, p. 158).
The facilitator should use a wide variety of technology tools to assist in communication and learning, but only if it has a purpose and is useful. The instructor needs to focus on selecting instructional strategies that engage all the learners, by switching from information to discovery of information. (Simonson et al, p. 159). Problem based activities, and games is a excellent way to promote critical thinking skills. This YouTube video does a nice job of illustrating tools that can be used in the digital classroom.

Gabgorilla. (2011). Technology in the classroom [Web]. Retrieved from

How will his role, as trainer, change in a distance learning environment?
According to Dr. George Piskurich (2010), the methods used to facilitate online and traditional courses remain the same. However, it is more difficult to perform the role and communication in an online environment.
In a distance learning course:
Facilitators should not resort to PowerPoint presentations because it is an “unengaging way to deliver content in an online or virtual environment” (Piskurish, 2010).
Activities are more important in a distance learning environment. Although the content is critical, it is the activities that keeps the learner going and enthusiastic and helps them learn the content.
Because the course is now student driven, the trainer now becomes a facilitator and must keep in constant contact with the learners. It is very difficult for a facilitator to communicate with all the learners. However, the facilitator must keep in contact and make himself available to the students. It is the job of the facilitator to guide the students instead of training them.

What steps should the trainer take to encourage the trainees to communicate online?
The trainer should foster a learner-centered learning environment by engaging the trainees in stimulating collaborative activities such as small group projects and by setting up thought-provoking discussion threads and requiring the trainees to respond to a minimum number of student posts. “The threaded discussion is one of the most powerful techniques used in distance education” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 186).
In an asynchronous environment, the trainer could create trainee debates and trainee-moderated discussions, have the trainees create and respond to one another’s blogs, or collaborate on projects by using Wikis. For synchronous communication, trainees can be encouraged to communicate using audio- and video-conferencing tools, participate in online chats, and instant messaging.


These presentations are part of the faculty development program in blended teaching and learning offered by the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee through the Sloan Consortium. The program provides rigorous, practical, and comprehensive training in all aspects of course redesign for blended offering. The workshop trainers, all from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, are experienced blended instructors who represent a wide range of disciplines including the humanities, fine arts, social and natural sciences. The trainers have successfully offered this program on numerous campuses across the United States.

Clark, D. (2008) Kirkpatrick’s four-level training evaluation model
Piskurich, G., Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Facilitating online learning. [Online]. Retrieved
from Walden University eCollege.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance:
Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Open Course

Free? Who doesn’t want free?
Retrieved from Google images:

Open Kaplan courses are free introductory courses where the goal of these courses is to provide educational material to all who wish to learn. Online E learning allows the learner to gain knowledge and deepen their understanding of what it means to learn in the digital age. There are posted topics, modules, discussion/essay questions and quizzes.
Learning theories provide a solid foundation for a multitude of strategies and reasoning techniques needed for instructional designers to create meaningful learning systems.  The andragogy learning theory in combination with the equivalency theory and constructivism are types of theories that guide distance learning. The andragogy theory states that “courses should have clear descriptions, learning objectives, resources, and timelines for events” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 51). 
Constructivism is a theory that suggests that students can gain knowledge and meaning from interactions, experiences and ideas and that humans create meaning as opposed to acquire it.
When a course is designed with constructivism in mind, instructors must create engaging environments that grab the attention of the learner to gain knowledge and develop meaning for themselves.
Some factors that Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek (2012), believe are important to include in a course are: student-instructor interaction and student-student interaction, like discussion groups, activity based strategies, assessment, and the use of multimedia (print, audio and video).
I chose Kaplan University’s free online open courseware to preview. I am looking at the Forensic Biology and Impression Evidence course. While reviewing some of the Fundamentals of Teaching online, it is clear that very few if any of the guidelines are being met.
What is required?
Course Analysis
Organize the course and make the requirements clear to the students. (Simonson p. 134)

The course is organized and requirements are clear. There is not any detail to the assignments.

Distance education instructors often find that to be effective, they must acquire a different set of skills than they use in a traditional classroom.  For example, planning must be conducted in advance, materials must be made to conform to the standards of the technology being used, and lectures must be designed to be interactive enough to hold the students’ attention when they do not have an instructor directly in front of them.  (Smith, N. 2003).
There is a welcome section that is sufficient. Resources and the plagiarism policy is listed.
Teacher and Student Interaction and Student to Student Interaction.
Keep Students Informed (pg. 135)
Clearly stated on course content instructions is: This Open Courseware version is intended for autonomous learning and does not facilitate your involvement with an instructor or interaction with classmates. This does not meet the standards of effective online learning.
There is not a discussion group for this course.

Syllabus:  The most important document the instructional designer can create for an online class is a syllabus (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).
There is not a syllabus for this course.
Objectives:  objectives should state the conditions under which learning should occur, the performance expected of the learner, and the standard to which the performance will be matched(Simonson)
While there are some objectives listed, they do not meet the criteria of distance learning.
The objectives are clear, but the expectation of the learner is missing.  Example: What the student will learn.

The role and responsibilities of the expert witness.

Without technical assistance and properly trained instructors, even the best technology can prove almost worthless. (Smith, N. 2003).
This course does not use any technology other than the CMS. The CMS is easy to navigate but is not interactive.
Teaching strategies and Media.
Since there is not any instruction interaction, there are not any teaching strategies.
The vocabulary words are simple root memory and do not meet the needs of the adult learner.

Learning Activities: Active learning means that the learners need to be involved in their own learning (Simonson et al., 2012).

Extend course readings beyond the text.

While these are clearly stated, there is not any interaction.

·         Review the Key Terms
·         Read Chapter 1, "Introduction," and Chapter 2, "The Crime Scene," in Criminalistics
·         Review this unit's Additional Resources.
·         Respond to the Discussion questions
·         Take the quiz
·         In some sections there are additional resources for required reading.

Benefits of this course to the learner.
It may course credit at Kaplan University or meet the needs for certification or Professional Learning.

It gives open access to material and information.
It is self-paced.

Adult learners need to control their learning experience. Open courseware opportunities all adults to gain knowledge for free at their own pace without any cost. Most of these courses do not meet the fundamentals of designing and teaching online. The course is not designed for multiple learning styles, or learner ability. There is very little if any use of technology. Where there is a learning potential in all open source courses, I decided not to continue in the course that I started. I was bored, lacked interest and motivation. Maybe this is the goal of the free program, to entice me to enroll in Kaplan University and take a different more interactive course.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvack, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.
Smith, N. (2003). Characteristics of successful adult distance instructors for adult learners. Inquiry, 8(1) Retrieved from
Google images