Tag Archives: Project Management

Searching for E-Learning Project Management Blogs

Last week I presented a brief session at E-Learn that described an online search for blogs that address the instructional design of e-learning and project management. I worked on this project with Amy Hilbelink. We work at the intersection of instructional design and project management, coordinating the development of e-learning products and managing large-scale initiatives. This presentation was a look at our attempt to organize a search for leaders who are blogging about these topics.

My primary goal was to find out more about blogs that might inspire Design Doc. Amy, considering a blog of her own, wanted to find a niche. We also hoped to create a list of blogs and authors we could follow for current information in our field. Managing the available information is daunting to say the least.

The result was a list of 36 unique blogs: 50% were sponsored/written by individuals, another 33% by businesses and organizations, and the remaining 17% by educational institutions. This list still requires some level of curation. Not all of the blogs, found in March 2010, are still live. Many haven’t been updated in a while. Others have changed names or just don’t hit the mark, even though there is some coverage of either instructional design or project management. We thought there were gaps, too. Why didn’t some of the blogs we were already aware of make the list? Perhaps our favorite bloggers aren’t writing with SEO in mind. Should they?

Here are a few blogs you may be interested in that did come up in our search:

Who are you reading? Please reply and add to the list.

For more information about our search process, keywords used, and information collected take a look at the presentation.

Advertisements

Instructional Design and Project Management – Are You Certified?

The instructional design field is part art – part science (Check out this post on Performance x Design). While you can study Instructional Design as an academic field and complete a degree or certificate program, you can also join the field via on-the-job training. I have worked with people who have come through varying career paths to become talented instructional designers. The work of the instructional designer is application oriented and one becomes more skilled through practice. I think that project managers follow similar paths – some have related degrees while others have learned through the process of managing projects.

Part of the skill set of the instructional designer is project management. The reality of curriculum, education, and training teams in organizations is that the instructional designer often wears both hats. Rarely is there a separate project manager to orchestrate the process of course development and keep things on track and under budget. Having had this experience myself I often refer to myself as a Project Manager, but with the increase in certification in this area I wonder how long I will be able to do that.

Advertisements for Instructional Designer positions almost always include the need for “project management experience”. Recently though I saw an announcement that required project management certification, specifically the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation.

eLearning Pro with PMP…

The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a globally recognized set of certifications. The two I am most familiar with are the PMP and the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). The PMP requires an extensive application documenting three years of project management experience, a college degree, and specific coursework in project management. If your application is accepted, you sit for a national exam. Once you pass the exam and are granted the certification, you complete annual continuing education activities. The CAPM also involves an extensive application and exam followed by re-examination every five years.

So, I am considering pursuit of one of these designations. The process is a little daunting and I think to myself, when does it end? When do I have enough acronyms after my name to stay competitive and ensure a potential employer that I am qualified? And there seems to be a fine line there – how many is too many?

Professional certification also seems to be an industry in and of itself. There are application fees, study courses (with fees), test preparation materials to purchase, exam fees… and other costs associated with membership and continuing education. To me, there is a financial investment involved and one that would continue. Do employers assist with these costs or provide additional compensation to those who hold special certifications?

What are your thoughts on professional certification? – particularly where instructional design and project management are concerned. If you have considered pursuing  or have completed certification, please share your advice on the pros and cons. If you are an employer, let us know how you value certification as part of the recruitment/hiring process.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Instructional Design Documents

This blog recently went through a name change, from “Talking and Typing About…” to “DesignDoc”. One interpretation of “DesignDoc” is a formal outline of what will be developed for a course, as in an Instructional Design Document. This document can be used to map out what will be developed and is often used as an agreement of work to be done before development starts. My experience has been that every workplace has its own version, requirements, and format, but the elements are pretty consistent.

What are the main components? A design document for an online course or module might contain items from the following list:

  • Purpose of the course/module
  • Learner description – technology skills and resources, prior knowledge
  • Goals and objectives of the course/module – learning outcomes to be measured
  • Plan for assessment of learning – methods for measuring achievement of learning outcomes
  • Selection of
    • specific instructional strategies – asynchronous and/or synchronous
    • specific media methods to be developed – video, slideshows, audio narration
  • Information related to time to complete
    • the development process
    • the course/module from the learner perspective
  • Scope and sequence of topics to be covered
  • Resources required for development of the course/module
  • List of team members and primary responsibilities – ID, SME, Media Experts, Graphic Artists, Editors…
  • Plan for maintenance and update of the materials
  • Approvals – to be acquired before development begins
  • Plan for testing and quality assurance

What’s missing? Please reply with any recommendations you have for adding to this list.

Online Resources and Examples:

Photo credit: ragnar1984, Flickr

Speed and Agility in Higher Education

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning last week and three themes surfaced as I attended sessions and talked with other participants:

NeedForSpeed-AmnemonaPart 2: Speed

The opening session with Frank Mayadas started this theme in motion. He stated that those of us involved in the development and delivery of online learning are moving at a frenetic pace and achieving success. That is in spite of the fact that words like “speed and agility are rarely used to describe higher education.”

How fast can we go? How fast should we go?

The concurrent sessions covered issues related to technology and how it allows us to manipulate data at a faster pace that we would ever be able to do on our own. These technologies have the potential to impact how learning takes place and how networked learning changes the way we design and deliver formal courses.  It occurred to me that while technology can make our work easier, it also adds to our to-do lists.

The closing session with Stephen Laster included this statement: “What I did yesterday isn’t good enough for tomorrow.” The speed at which we must move to keep up with the need seems a little daunting. Keeping up with not only what is new, but what is also useful will be a constant challenge as we move forward in the fields of instructional design and instructional technology.

How do we balance careful decision-making and development of effective online courses as our budgets, bottom lines, and student demands push us forward?

photo credit: Amnemona, Flickr

Top 10 Tools for Learning 2009


I was inspired by Jane Hart to create my own list of “Top 10 Tools for Learning 2009”. Of course, when I started to write them out there were more than ten… so, for brevity’s sake, this list is from the perspective of the designer, developer, manager of online learning. These are the tools that I have turned to throughout the year to get the work done, and more importantly, to collaborate with others to get the work done. These tools also provide me with learning opportunities making me better at what I do.

  1. Google Apps – Particularly the Calendar and Documents, Spreadsheets to track dates and involve multiple people in the creation and review of content.
  2. Twitter/TweetDeck – I was reluctant to join in, but have been amazed at the amount of information, access to leaders in the field, and potential for professional development.
  3. Skype – Key for conference calls and instant messaging within workgroups. Highly recommend the Skype Number service .
  4. Firefox – You need a gateway to the Internet for all of this work and my personal preference is Firefox.
  5. Basecamp – Allows team members to post and reply to internal messages, work on asynchronous whiteboards, maintain version control of documents…
  6. Dimdim – The features of a synchronous system are not always required, but can’t be beat for walking someone through a product online. Elluminate and Adobe Connect also offer free accounts, but Dimdim works well and can ‘seat’ up to 20 in the free version.
  7. SurveyMonkey – Getting feedback from multiple parties, in an asynchronous manner, that provides easy to assess responses – an online survey tool can be very helpful. SurveyMonkey offers a free account that will serve the purpose of most development teams, but Google Forms is another nice option here.
  8. VoiceThread – This can be a great tool for students to present their projects, etc. in an online class, but I have also used it to demo course projects to other development team members when we are all in different locations.
  9. WordPress – I have found writing my own blog to be a learning process and that has led me to read others’ blogs as well. WordPress offers a super simple way to start a blog that looks great, with the potential to tweak and customize for those with more skills.
  10. Learning Management Systems – Maybe my 2010 list won’t include this, but it’s still a factor in my current course development efforts. I’ve used Sakai, Blackboard, e-College, and dabbled in WebCT and Moodle. The features are similar and provide a framework for delivering a formal course. WordPress has a lot of similar features as well.