Posts Tagged ‘EDUC 6145’

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Credit Ted Goff (2002). Retrieved from http://www.davis-stirling.com/Humor/Cartoons/BudgetMeeting/tabid/125/Default.aspx#axzz2sbamXkTl

We were told this week in our Project Management course materials that there are many resources available online to assist project managers in estimating project costs and allocating resources.  I was skeptical so I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was true!  Even if we ignore the numerous blogs on this topic published by previous Walden University students, there are in fact many useful resources where information, instruction, discussion, tips, and templates may be found.  One such resource is Don Clark’s blog post, titled, Estimating Costs and Time In Instructional Design (2010, June 23), which provides detailed budgeting information specific to instructional design.  A highlight of this blog for me is the following quote by Clark in which he said, 

“If it becomes evident that the resources to implement the best training strategy are not available, then it is important that all the personnel involved in the project are brought in on the decision making process.  This includes both clients and training developers.”

What this means to me is that communication is critical in ensuring that as a team we figure out how to utilize our available resources in a manner that gives us the best result for the least amount of money. We can also hold some funds in reserve for costs that arise unexpectedly.  In one of our video resources this week, Dr. Stolovitch suggested that as the project manager, we should work lean and hand out additional money as though were giving our “last drops of blood” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  But I digress.  Clark’s comprehensive blog post offers information (including links) regarding budgeting, training cost guidelines, estimating development hours, eLearning development time, development times to create one-hour of e-learning, instructor prep-time, seat time, interactive multimedia instruction, USMC multimedia guide for percentage of development, interactive courseware development costs, tools, and a case study.

Another resource I would like to highlight is this slide show by Bryan Chapman (2010), called How Long Does It Take to Create Learning?  In this slide show, Chapman presents data from a research survey of 249 organizations, representing almost 4000 learning development professionals regarding the number of hours and associated costs of development used to create 1 finished hour of learning. Chapman shows detailed results for Instructor-Led Training, eLearning (Level 1, 2, 3), Blended Learning. I find the information in this slideshow to be quite useful as it delineates between designs with minimal multimedia/interactivity, those with a moderate amount, and those that are rich in multimedia and interactive components and the data is based on real world numbers.

Here are links for some of the other sites I found (including one by our instructor!):

http://www.designingforlearning.info/services/writing/time.htm

http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2008/05/be-an-elearning-action-hero/

http://www.techrepublic.com/article/creating-your-project-budget-where-to-begin/#.

http://www.instructionaldesignconsultant.com/how-much-should-i-pay-for-instructional-design-services.html

http://www.langevin.com/blog/2011/11/17/the-mystery-of-determining-instructional-design-time/

https://christytucker.wordpress.com/2013/09/

https://sites.google.com/site/instructionaldesignandtraining/perspectives/time-to-develop-one-hour-of-training

http://thetrainingworld.com/faq/deshowlong.htm

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-Long-Does-it-Take-to-Design-and-Develop-a-Training-Activity?&id=39691

http://tracyschiffmann.com/2010/06/21/instructional-design-contracting-101/

Estimating the Cost of eLearning Projects – Mark Steiner, Inc.

http://raypastore.com/wordpress/2012/01/instructional-designers-figuring-out-how-many-hours-it-takes-to-develop-training/

 

 

References

Chapman, B. (2010). How Long Does it Take to Create Learning? [Research Study]. Chapman Alliance LLC. Retrieved from http://www.chapmanalliance.com/howlong/

Clark, D. (2010, June 23). Estimating costs and time in instructional design. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/costs.html

Laureate Education Inc. (Stolovich, H.). (2010). Creating a Resource Allocation Plan. [Media].

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Can you hear me now, Spock?  For our EDUC 6145 Project Management course assignment this week we observed the effectiveness of a message that was presented using three different modes of communication — Email, Voicemail, and Face-to-face (presented as a video simulation).  For the project manager, indeed all team members, communication is the key to success (Portny et al., 2008).  As Dr. Stolovich states, the project manager must approach communications with diplomacy because “communication is not just words” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  How you say something is more important than the words you use!  In fact, 93% of how a communication is received is related to the following influences (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010):

  •      Spirit & Attitude
  •      Tonality & Body Language
  •      Timing
  •      The personality of the recipient

Choosing how and when to communicate can “influence one another’s attitudes, behaviors, and understandings” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 357).  Communication may be formal, informal, written, audio, face-to-face, individually, or in groups (meetings) (Portny et al., 2008), but important information should be shared in a live format “with all team members present” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  When communication is focused, clear, and concise it helps team members “stay on target” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  Perhaps the poor bloke below could have benefited from the physicians having more effective communications!

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On to our experiment!  As I stated in the intro, we observed a multimedia presentation which included the communication of the same message via email, voicemail, and simulated face-to-face video.  My notes of the observation of each are documented below.  I will begin with the medium that seemed most effective and end with that which seemed least effective.  The basic message is from Jane who is in need of a report from a team member, Mark who has missed his deadline.  Jane’s ability to successfully complete her work is dependent upon receiving Mark’s report/data or she will fail to meet her own deadline.

Face-to-face

In the face-to-face example, Jane seemed very effective in communicating her message.  Her demeanor was casual, calm and relaxed and she was clear about what she needed and the degree of importance, while maintaining great eye contact and a friendly smile.  She was personable and respectful, and even acknowledged Mark’s busy schedule which was a great way to approach him without pointing fingers and playing the blame game.  In addition the tone of her voice was pleasant  and non-threatening.  All of these factors can have an effect on the way a message is received and  can influence the degree to which the recipient is persuaded to respond appropriately to the request.  Assuming that Mark is a reasonable person and a professional, conscientious employee, I suspect that he likely responded quickly to provide Jane with the information that she needed.  Heck, he may even have apologized for holding up her work.

Voicemail

I found the voicemail message to be a little bit annoying.  Jane’s tone of voice seemed a little whiny and demanding and I heard a sense of urgency, perhaps because she spoke rather quickly (to my ear).  Although the script of the voicemail was almost identical to the face-to-face script, I perceived less emphasis on the lines that acknowledged how busy Mark had been and more on what Jane needed, and the fact that she needed it right away.  The message was still clear however.

Email

Oy vay.  Email is often such an inferior mode of communication, due to the lack of cues related to body language, tone of voice, cadence, emphasis, etc., leaving much of the interpretation of the message up to the recipient.  Emails sometimes seem so utilitarian and stark, which may be beneficial for simple, factual information that must be shared.  But beyond that, communication by email is not as effective as more personal modalities.  Email does not provide a realiable touchy-feely, human contact component.  Also, the lack of vocal tone and physical cues that are present in face-to-face, and to a lesser degree voicemail, can affect the clarity of the message.  I found that I had to read this message closely a couple of times just to be clear on what was being asked.  I suspect that Mark may or may not respond to Jane’s request in a timely manner, perhaps as a result of the lack of personal contact.  In this way,  emails may be less persuasive than other, more personal, forms of communicating.  Plus, how many times have you misinterpreted the tone of voice of an email, or had someone misinterpret yours?  Risky business, this email stuff.

Finally…

A topic that I did not see discussed as a part of our curriculum this week, and one that I personally value, is the use of humor.  According to an article about humor as a communication skill, author Janelle Gilbert stated that, “The clever and appropriate use of humor is a great way to improve communication, reduce stress, help people think creatively, reduce the fear of making mistakes, improve morale, build stronger relationships, alleviate boredom…and more!” (2012, July 13).  When used well, humor can put people at ease and give them a spike of feel-good hormones which may make them easier to work with, so having great funny-skills is a bonus!

Enter— Savage Chickens!

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References

Gilbert, J. (2012, July 13). Great communication skills: Do’s and don’ts of using humor at work. [Blog entry]. Retrieved January 23, 2014 from http://www.cgwa.com/2012/07/13/great-communication-skills-dos-and-donts-of-using-humor-at-work/

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Communicating with stakeholders. [Video webcast].

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.

 

My blog assignment this week is to select a project in which I have played a part and discuss the “project post-mortem” analysis.  Also called a post-project evaluation (Portny et al., 2008), the post-mortem analysis offers valuable information and learning opportunities regarding what went well with the project, and what could have been handled differently.   As an instructional design and technology student without real-world instructional design experience, I have wracked my brain all week trying to recall any project experience that would be suitable for this assignment.  Perhaps this one will do.  A couple of years ago, I performed some side jobs for a publisher in which I calculated the nutrition analysis of the recipes in a variety of cookbooks.  After having completed several of these jobs, I was brought into another book project as a technical reviewer.  This was a nutrition-related book written by an author with no nutrition-related credentials so the editors needed the expertise of a dietitian to ensure that the information in the book was current and correct.  Since I had never worked in the technical reviewer capacity before I asked several questions to clarify the expectations or scope of my part of the project and how this was to be done.  Knowing that this was within my ability to do, and excited about this new opportunity, I agreed to take the job.  From my previous experiences I knew that publishers/editors always seem to be in a crazy time-crunch, and this job was no different.  The timeframe to complete the technical review was very short for the amount of work to be done.  I knew that once I received the manuscript I would be in for some very long hours in the evenings after work and all weekend.  They gave me two weeks to read the entire manuscript in detail, research all of the information provided therein, provide suggestions, and make corrections to the manuscript where necessary.  Whew.

When I received the manuscript I wasted no time getting started.  I was quickly surprised at the high number of problems I encountered.  Not just incorrect information, but also outdated information, unsupported nutrition claims, etc.  But worst of all, some large sections of the manuscript seemed to misplaced and some were missing completely!  The majority of the manuscript was topic content, but there was also a recipe section which was organized according to various types of diets, e.g., low carbohydrate, vegetarian, diabetic, macrobiotic, and several others.  Even the recipes were jumbled about, with non-vegetarian recipes listed under the vegetarian section, or recipes with dairy products listed under the dairy-free section, and menu plans were incomplete.  It was a hot mess.  It appeared to me that the author of this shoddy manuscript had simply dropped the ball on the project.  So the manuscript I had been given was nowhere near ready for the contribution I was hired to provide.  When I notified the editor of my findings she seemed to confirm that the author had no interest in completing the manuscript.  It was then that I experienced the phenomenon that I now know to be scope creep (Portny et al, 2000).  Massive scope creep.  The editor asked if I would “fix” the manuscript.  When I hesitated (because it was a daunting task) she offered to increase my compensation by a couple hundred dollars and give me a few more days to do the work.  I reluctantly agreed, so my project role changed from technical reviewer to that of a seriously underpaid ghost writer.  It was during this portion of the job that I discovered several sections of content that had plagiarized…as if there weren’t already enough problems to handle!    Well, I did my best to “fix” the manuscript, essentially reorganizing and re-writing a large amount of the content.

Shortly after I submitted the final manuscript, exhausted and sick with the flu, scope creep reared its ugly head a second time when the editors asked me to create additional menu plans.  It was nearly 11:00 PM and they needed to have the menu plans done by morning when the manuscript was to be submitted for proofreading.  There was no more wiggle room for time.  I was worried that denying their request would harm my relationship with the publisher but I just couldn’t do anything more.  I was too exhausted and too sick.  I imagine they were probably up all night working to finish.  Fortunately, my relationship with the publisher was not damaged and I think they appreciated all the work I did.  And sometime after that, they hired me to write my first cookbook, and then a second.  Those experiences are stories in their own right.

So, what could have been handled differently?  Well, scope creep is a common occurrence in most projects (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009) and with more experience I would have known how to handle the situation without feeling like I had little choice.  Perhaps I could have negotiated for better compensation to complete the additional work.

 

 

References

Laureate Education Inc. (Stolovich, H.). (2009). Project Management Concerns: Scope Creep. [Media].

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.