Scope Creep Experience

I initially had a bit of difficulty pinpointing a specific experience to highlight for purposes of this blog entry, but it eventually dawned on me that I have just grown so accustomed to its existence. It may often be subtle and even disguise itself. Ultimately, though, scope creep is inevitable and must be addressed (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton and Kramer, 2008). Being aware of this will help me see the larger perspective, regardless of my role. Portny et. al (2008) illustrate scope creep as “the natural tendency of the client as well as project team members, to try and improve to project’s output as the project progresses” (p. 350). One of the examples that came to mind was when I worked in event management and the original itinerary and game plan would evolve both from the perspective of the client and the internal leadership. These two instances of scope creep would often clash and impact the preparation leading to live confusion on the day of the event.

If I was the project manager in this case, I would ensure that lines of communication were open and all parties involved contributed to and were aware of minor and major changes. Portny et. al (2008) dictate that the project manager should “insist that every project change is introduced by a change order that include a description of the agreed-upon change together with any resulting changes in the plan, processes, budget, schedule, or deliverables” (p. 347). I will be mindful of this trend throughout future projects to ensure a smoother experience for everyone involved.

Resources:

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

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Smooth Scheduling Tools

I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled at how many intriguing tools there are that would aid a project manager/instructional designer in fostering an efficient schedule. I’ll only pick two, but the trait that most of the potential options shared is that they reduce the amount of logistical time that normally would be required to organize how time is being spent.

  • Calendy – https://calendly.com – This might be a bit on the nose, but this incredibly simplistic and pleasant online service allows for versatile meeting scheduling, whether it be informal one-on-one check-ins or larger gatherings. Using this would allow a team to easily include all appropriate people on the same playing field, rather than relying on the likely internally used Outlook, to instantly create a sense of unity and vital connection. The amount of customization simply seemed unprecedented to me compared to other scheduling tools. Being able to have full control over such aspects, like the maximum amount of meetings to be scheduled in a certain time frame, allows the project manager to shape the workflow and support their vision. So many of these features would usually rely on lengthy emails that would likely not be nearly as effective.

 

  • Slack – https://slack.com – I simply could not resist choosing this tool, especially considering the aforementioned Calendy can seamlessly be integrated into its robust network. While I have not used Slack, I have read and heard incredible reviews about how much it brings together a team and makes just about every task more accessible. While this may be more of an internal tool to serve as an all-encompassing communication and project tool for the project manager and the instructional designers, it allows for considerably more efficient collaboration. Again, instead of relying on email, this virtual workplace allows for more powerful file sharing, organization and a variety of mediums to communicate without worrying about compatibility allow for an outlined schedule to be put into action with minimal detours.

Week 3 Reflection

Below are my interpretations of the messages delivered through the three different mediums in The Art of Effective Communication.

Email: With written text, the tone is so often open to interpretation and the author only has so much control over their intended or implied voice. Without any body language or facial cues, the reader may pick up on sarcasm or passive aggression. The email in this exercise was a prime example of this, as I immediately began to think the worst and sensed an unpleasant, cold and rude vibe to most of the email’s message. Even the gratitude in the last sentence could be interpreted as disingenuous.

Voicemail: Even though this medium contained the exact same message, I inherently felt much more warmth. The sense of urgency is there, but far more empathy shines through, which creates an effect that allows the reader to care more about the other person’s perspective. While reading the email, I was mostly offended and thinking or second-guessing inwardly, but hearing the human voice built a better bridge of communication to effectively establish what is being requested and the context of why there might be some justifiable distress or urgency attached.

Face-to-Face: This is, unsurprisingly, the most pleasant and expressive medium. Though, my initial thought was that the communicator here has a pretty relaxed demeanor and body language, in addition to a friendly and almost casual approach. It is interesting to think about the stark contrast between this and the email message, as it is the same message – absolutely illuminating. This led me to think though that there could certainly be a fluid range of communicating in this way that could lean more towards the abrasive side. By a change in body language, facial expression and verbal tone, this very same message could manifest in many different forms.

Conclusion: This activity really opened my eyes to how others might perceive my attempts at communicating compared with what my actual intent is. This was illuminating towards how crucial it is for members of a team to be mindful of how they communicate. I will make sure to think carefully about what medium or tone to use for a given specific context to convey the appropriate message. It may be difficult to separate oneself from a personal lens and simply take a step back, but striving to do this, especially with the email medium, can help us avoid miscommunication or even conflict.

Resources:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). The Art of Effective Communication [Multimedia Program]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Week 2 – Post Mortem Reflection

When trying to think of failed group projects, I am immediately drawn to a few notable instances in my undergraduate career that did not go swimmingly by any stretch of the imagination. In particular, there was a group project in the early stages of one of my undergraduate classes that was doomed from the onset. Beyond the palpable dread amongst the group I was assigned to, there was a lack of accountability or unified vision. Each member had their own idea of their role in working towards an eventual presentation to the class. There was a clash between two different individuals who assumed the role of project manager, but did not make a concerted effort to seek or value input from all of the team members. While there was a drive towards creating a sufficient final product, there was lack of structure to the stages leading up towards curating the content. It is interesting to think about stakeholders in the context of a normal school group project that culminates with a presentation to a class. Ultimately, the goal was to both internally and externally facilitate critical thought towards the given topic.

Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton and Kramer (2008) explain that “success in this environment requires that the project manager and team members reach agreements about how they’ll work together to maximize everyone’s contribution and minimize wasted time and mistakes” (pg. 293). Even the specific subject matter escapes me at this point, which is likely indicative of our by-the-numbers approach that did not foster learning. If a singular project manager had assigned a specific and impactful role to each member that they were both adept at and passionate about, the members would be more engaged and invested in the project, which would have resulted in a more memorable and effective final presentation. Additionally, if an emphasis on communication had been established from the onset, a foundation for open interaction and feedback would have, in turn, been in tact for the duration of the project.

Resources:

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

Week 8 Reflection

EDUC 6135 has been an incredibly enriching experience that has allowed me to engage with and gain a fuller understanding of distance learning and its context within the world of instructional design. I was thrilled to learn more first-hand about the process of creating an actual online learning environment and use previously learned ID skills and strategies in this realm.

I think that the perceptions of distance learning will continue to inspire more conversations and be at the forefront of discussions about education overall. I think and hope that blended learning becomes more and more commonplace, as it may ease those who are apprehensive about venturing outside the confines of the physical classroom to the immense advantages of distance learning. There will continue to be detractors, but as more people tell of their positive experiences, individuals will be able to have a more informed perspective on whether or not distance learning would be a good fit for their unique path and why it might behoove some to explore it.

I can be a proponent for improving people’s perception of this style of learning by not only sharing my positive experience, but perhaps more importantly, listening to others’ variety of reasons why or why not they have embraced it. By understanding their perspective, a more productive and meaningful conversation can happen.

As an instructional designer, I will utilize strategies that speak to the power distance learning has to facilitate true growth for learners. This mentality can be practiced in contexts even beyond the standard classroom, as learning happens in all sorts of places, like our workplace and in leisure. Simonson, Smaldino and Zvacek (2015) remind us that “by its very nature, online education demands that students become engaged in the learning process” (p. 168). Through experiencing distance education first-hand, in a variety of settings, novices and seasoned veterans alike, can further grasp its role in our educational goals.

Resources:

Simonson, M. R., Smaldino, S. E., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Charlotte, NC: IAP, Information Age Publishing, Inc.

EDUC 6135 – Week 1: Distance Learning Definition

Just like distance learning itself, my understanding of it is evolving. Despite being immersed in type of education for quite some time, I have witnessed distance learning adapt and grow based upon the technology that it uses. It seems to have become less of a fringe style and more of a viable and common option. Through participating in distance learning as both a student and administrator, I have adapted to some of its shortcomings in the real time connection realm, while embraced its overwhelming accessibility and the new opportunities it creates.

I learned a great deal this week about the truly intricate and ever-changing world of distance learning. I enjoyed reading about the theory and historical context regarding this pillar of education. This has significantly informed my understanding of this topic. A few years ago, I remember reading about the logistics of online learning in the advent of internet and being in awe of its functionality, as I had previously considered it to be a recent invention. Even when computers were an extraordinarily distant future invention over a century ago, the ideology of distance learning existed and its roots modestly grew over time to help influence today’s structure (Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek, 2015).

In addressing Moore’s theory of independent study, Simonson, Smaldino and Zvacek (2015) explain that “in distance education, there is a gap between teacher and student, so the student must accept a high degree of responsibility for the conduct of the learning program” (p. 43). While I had previously considered the high degree of self-discipline that the student must adhere to, I had seldom thought about the facilitator’s role in setting up the student for success in this regard.

I’ve realized this week that my previous definition of distance learning was largely comparing it to physical classroom learning and the components it may lack. However, I’ve learned this week about its unique and separate structure. In an ideal distance learning model, the facilitator should work to overcome inherent restrictions and establish meaningful unity between all involved parties and materials to encourage growth (Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek, 2015).

My vision of distance learning is that it must diligently stay in tune with the rapidly altering world of technology. As our relationship and reliance on technology continues to increase, the way we interact with each other will also change. By being mindful of this and promoting inclusiveness, distance learning can continue to elevate, while still maintaining its core structure separate from the modern technology that sometimes seems to encompass it.

New-Mind-Map

 

Resources:

Simonson, M. R., Smaldino, S. E., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Charlotte, NC: IAP, Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Week 8 Reflection – EDUC 6115

EDUC 6115 was an enriching experience that significantly broadened my perspective on the different intersecting ways that people learn. I was surprised to see how many different learning theories, styles and strategies resonated with me personally or reminded me of previous interactions with peers about how they learn. This illustrates the complicated and often overlapping ideas about how we learn, why we learn and, finally, how we can shape this process – either through means of our own educational journey or as that architect of instructional materials.

This course deepened my comprehension of my personal learning process insofar as I will now be cognizant of how I learn and what steps I can take to be a more efficient learner. As technology and its influx of readily available information steadily become a prominent factor in all types of learning. Creating the web diagram of the different sources of knowledge that I am constantly immersed in was a productive exercise in understanding the full scope of this reality.

I will recall upon these ideas for the rest of my life, not just limited to the rest of my educational institution endeavors. One of the biggest concepts that has been revelatory to me over these several weeks is the idea of how to approach learning in a classroom consisting of students with diverse learning backgrounds without excluding anybody. Kapp explains that “what we need is to take the best from each philosophy and use it wisely to create solid educational experiences for our learners” (Kapp, 2007). Though, the turning point in my comprehension of this quandary was Glenn’s argument that “Glenn argues that “teachers should worry about matching their instruction to the content they are teaching” (Glenn, 2009). Exploring this mentality, in addition to all the other fascinating ideas from his colleagues, will allow me to create effective learning content and will help immensely in my upcoming path towards the instructional design field.

 

Resources:

Glenn, D. (2009, December 15). Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help Students. Retrieved April 11, 2017, from http://www.chronicle.com/article/MatchingTeachingStyleto/49497/

Kapp, K. (2007, January 02). Out and About: Discussion on Educational Schools of Thought [Web log post]. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://karlkapp.com/out-and-about-discussion-on-educational

Week 7 Reflection – Newfound Perspective on Learning Theories

Over the past several weeks, my understanding of learning theories has broadened significantly. By discovering the intricacies and context of these ideas, I was able to understand the dialogue between differing viewpoints in a constantly changing framework that these theories inhabit. I found it interesting to see the traces of some of the pillars of learning theories adopted in newer schools of thought that adapt to our shiny new media landscape.

One of the factors that stood out to me in relation to how I personally learn is the emerging technologies that fuel certain newer learning theories, such as Adult Learning. I recalled the slow learning shift to online classrooms that I experienced in my early twenties during my undergraduate classes. It seemed like a nearly seamless change at the time, but it was enlightening to read about the biological background behind how my preferred method of learning evolved.

This course has reinforced the influence that technology has on how (and how often) I learn. It made me more aware of and allowed me to visualize the complex system in which I attain information. My goal is to be more discerning about the sources and to strive towards maintaining a diverse web of knowledge, as it can be tempting to remain stagnant and accustomed to my own perspective. In discussing the technological function in regards to the Adult Learning theory, Merriam indicated that “Globalization and communications technology have resulted in adult educators in the West becoming more aware of diverse worldviews and epistemologies regarding learning and knowing” (Merriam, pg. 96, 2008). I found this larger idea, that pertains to far more than the confines of this particular learning theory, to be uplifting and powerful. Embracing this mentality will allow me to be a better student, in addition to designer of instructional and learning content.

Resources:

Merriam, S. B. (2008). Adult learning theory for the twenty-first century. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 119, 93–98.

Mindmap Reflection

I found it to be beneficial and enlightening to map out the various ways in which I learn. I became mindful of how learning can seem to be a constant flow in our lives, especially in an age where one can be inundated with stimuli. As I was creating this diagram, I started to weigh the substance of each source and how beneficial each might be. I realized that much knowledge is certainly situational, but I became increasingly interested in how these types of information overlap and intersect with each other. I will now be more cognizant of the relationship these connections have or do not have with each other. This will allow me to think more critically about how I learn and establish effective strategies and anticipate resistance to change.

The digital tools that best facilitate learning for me, in broader terms, are the ever-prevalent online social forums of interaction, namely Reddit. I find myself absorbing an enormous amount of knowledge from this particular source. I feel that much information from the online sector of my mindmap end up spreading to many of the other sections.

I think my knowledge acquisition largely depends on the environment or context I am in, though the online category is omnipresent throughout. It is interesting to think how our instincts towards asking questions has been so drastically impacted by technology and its ability to immerse us in a world of constantly available information.

My personal learning mindmap aligns with connectivism, as it illustrates the constant interactions between different learning connections and emphasizes the necessary need to discern between such an influx of knowledge. George Siemens explains that “connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations” (Siemens, 2004). This exercise was a compelling snapshot of our current learning climate. I would be curious to map out learning connections from previous stages in my life and identify the possible advantages or disadvantages that a simpler mindmap might contain.

Sources:

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [online]. Retrieved April 8, 2017 from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm