Thursday, April 9, 2015

EDUC 6145 - Week 6 - Analyzing Scope Creep

My scope creep project happened pretty recently, and has not completely been resolved, so I’m interested to stick it out and see what happens. There is one training course I’m currently working on, and there is no PM designated. Where I work, we have a designer and a SME on a team. Other people will only be brought in if necessary. Luckily, for this course I have a few other designers working with me.

This course is one that has already been created and is in a revision process so that we can pinpoint what is needed and what exactly to train students on. The students in the class come from all over the world to be trained on giving background investigations, as well as perform other duties. Because the course is already being taught and I have access to the lesson plans and previous ADDIE paperwork that had been filled out, I can see what is being taught. I was beginning to re-paper the course (which just means to update the paperwork and make any necessary changes) and had gotten to the design phase when the SME made it known she wanted to add three days to the course.

Here are a few reasons why this is bad: each day costs money, per student. The amount that a student’s organization will pay for them to attend class only covers a percentage of the training facility’s cost. Adding the days to the course would not only cost more, but the papering process would need to be restarted, meaning we’d lose money from the delays. When the SME and I finally reached a consensus, she mentioned that the three added days would not be taking place at our facility. This led to bringing more people on board to coordinate, spending more money in paying for rental cars and hotel rooms for students, and having to redo the paperwork once again. (I also should note that the only reason the team conceded to the SME was because there was not enough data to back up the idea that these last three days are unnecessary.)

This project began in November, and the course is not until June. However, the original course date was April, so we’ve already lost money on having to delay the class. Another designer and I are the leads on this project, and at this point it’s difficult to see what else could come up to get us off track; it actually looks like we may make our June date.

If I was a PM, I would have gone back to the analysis phase once the extra three days were requested and conducted a needs analysis to see if the extra time is something that is really necessary. Chances are this analysis would have taken less time to put together than all the paperwork and coordination for an extended course. I also would have kept the lines of communication open along the way so that this news didn’t take us by surprise halfway through the project. Our curriculum manager also has working knowledge of each course, and had I been in control, I would have brought him in much sooner to get his take on the changes. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

EDUC 6145 - Week 5 - Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

Cover Art
This is a book that has been published online, and it includes resources such as step-by-step instructions, videos, and charts to help a project manager get started on a project. For this week’s topic, I found that chapters 8 and 9 are the most relevant because they focus on time management and budgets, respectively. The online book is set up the same way our textbook is, with an objective at the beginning of each chapter and key takeaways at the end. There is also the option of listening to someone read the chapters aloud through an audio player at the top of each page.

This is a UK-based website that “helps managers at all levels improve their performance.” Under the Methods & Tools tab I found an article written by Duncan Haughey that focuses on estimating project costs. It includes a list of assumptions to make about a project, a list of common mistakes, and a three-point estimation formula. On the sidebar there are links to other helpful articles, such as 12 Tips for Accurate Project Estimating and Creating a Project Budget: What You Need to Know. There are also links embedded in the article for a PM to use for extra help.


This site is not necessarily meant for project managers, but there are some helpful tools that could easily be used by a PM or an instructional designer. The homepage offers links to downloadable software – some of which have free trials. The software that would be most helpful to a PM or an ID is the time tracking, the cash flow forecasting, and the bar chart schedule. Some of the software is based on the site, so information is easily plugged in. This is definitely something I would use if in a position of having to create a schedule and plan a budget for a project; I could plug in the information I have and receive a chart that I could show other team members. It’s a great tool to stay organized. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

EDUC 6145 - Week 3 - Communicating Effectively


Written Text:
Reading any type of communication in text makes it difficult to assess the tone of the “speaker” unless you know that person well. Jane’s email seems important, and her tone almost sounds frantic, but in such a way that she’s trying to cover up how frantic she is. It’s difficult to tell if the tone is a bit bossy, or if it’s completely professional, and even friendly. However, I did notice that she was very clear about what she needed, and almost wrote as though she is a manager, so I wonder if she could be the lead on a project they are completing together.

For me, I had mostly the same impression from the audio that I did from the written text. I wondered if Jane could be Mark’s boss, but after hearing the way she spoke to him it sounded as if they are simply teammates and that she needs something from him. Tone, obviously, is not difficult to interpret in a voicemail. Jane’s voicemail sounded less formal than her email.

The video again made me wonder if Jane could be a PM or boss. She only smiled at the very beginning of her request, and then was professional and formal in her facial expressions. Had I watched the video first, it’s likely I would have assumed she is definitely a manager of some sort, but after reading and listening to the other two first I still can’t be sure.


Portny et al. (2008) describe that there are two types of communication: formal and informal (p. 357). Based on the way they define these types, it’s clear to me that the first example of the message (the email) could be taken either way, depending on the context surrounding the message. It could be formal because it was “preplanned and conducted in a standard format in accordance with an established schedule” or it could be informal because it occurred as Jane thought of information to share (Portny et al., 2008, p. 357). The voicemail was definitely more informal because of the inflection of Jane’s voice, and because it sounded as if it was something not that imperative that she just happened to think of and wanted to let Mark know about. As for the video, my opinion is that it was formal communication. Jane did not laugh or make light of any parts of what she had to say, and she was straightforward with her request.

I think that a combination of the face-to-face request and an email would be the most effective; the email would reiterate what had been said, and there would be a paper-trail to document everything. What I realized from my own reactions is that if the person making the request makes light of what they’re asking for or jokes around, it’s possible that the person being asked will assume it’s not a big deal. I learned that it’s vital to be concise and clear about what you want, and to communicate it in such a way that will come across as professional. I’ve always been a supporter of the follow-up email, and it’s definitely something I will continue to do.


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.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

EDUC 6145 - Week 2 - Project "Post-mortem"

I have always considered myself to be an organized person. I write everything down and rarely let things slip through the crack. However, there are times when even the most put-together people make mistakes. My first job out of college was as a recruiter. I started off slowly, only contacting people who had been pre-screened by management, but after a while the workload for the company became so much that I got to find my own recruits. The contracts I was staffing were as large as 500 people, and I’m sure you can imagine the workload that goes into something like that (even with a team of three of us it took months to feel like we were making progress). None of that may seem relevant, but what’s important to remember about recruiting – especially when you’re doing it on your own with few guidelines – is that you have to keep track of everything. There should be a plan in place so you know exactly what you’re looking for.

There was one specific contract that came our way, and I was the acting lead recruiter, and my “team” was me and three other people. Had I known what I know now about managing any kind of project, I would have done things quite differently. There was no plan created from the beginning. I did not sit down with anybody to talk about what we were looking for, what keywords we should use, there were no tracking spreadsheets, and it was all-around disorganized. It turned out that a few of us had been contacting the same people (I’m sure they felt as though they were getting bombarded). Planning, organizing, and controlling are three main components of a project manager’s job (Portney et al., 2008, pp. 3-4). On my own, I felt like I had those three things under control, but with no experience in leading any kind of project, I severely slacked on the planning and organizing portions when it came to my team. I wanted everybody to jump in head first because I didn’t want us to fall behind on such a large task, but looking back, that was not the way to go.

There were some aspects that turned out to be successful, such as the fact that a few weeks into the recruiting process we finally were on the same page, had come up with position descriptions to send to candidates, and came up with a plan for which members of the team would recruit for certain positions (instead of us all trying to do everything). While everything turned out okay in the end (although I should add – it’s been over two years since I left that job and last I heard that contract still isn’t fully staffed), I learned so much from my mistakes. Although I felt like we got a head start by jumping in, in reality we lost time due to everyone’s confusion – which was my fault. We should have spent a day making the plan. Defining the scope of the task and assigning roles and responsibilities would have started us off on track, and instead of losing time later trying to figure it all out, we could have hit the ground running.


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.

Monday, March 9, 2015

EDUC 6145 - Welcome


This is the blog that I've used for my courses since starting the Instructional Design & Technology program at Walden. I've loved following along with my classmates, and I hope you all enjoy my posts throughout this course.

Here's a little about me:

+ I'm an instructional systems designer working for the Department of State, and I absolutely love my job.

+ I'm getting married on April 25th.

+ I have a dog named Louie and a hedgehog named Henrietta.

+ I grew up in Southern Maryland, but currently live in Alexandria, VA.

I'm looking forward to working with all of you!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

EDUC 6135 - Week 8 - Reflection

I have always been an advocate for distance learning. I believe it’s partially because I grew up in a house where getting an education wasn’t a question, but rather, it was an expectation. However, my parents also believed that “a degree is a degree.” As long as I was studying, it didn’t matter if it was online or in a face-to-face setting. I chose to get my undergraduate degree at a traditional university, but when it came time to get a graduate degree, I knew right away I would want to study online. I have a full-time job, hobbies, and other obligations that make attending a class a few times a week nearly impossible for me, and I know that many other adult learners face similar situations. I am someone who encourages online learning because I have experienced first-hand how effective, yet convenient, it can be.

While studying instructional design, I have not only become familiar with the ins-and-outs of creating online instruction, but also the general attitudes towards distance learning. It’s possible I am slightly biased because I grew up in an era when technology was used for everything, and also because I have taken many online courses, but it has been interesting for me to hear other people’s thoughts on the subject of distance learning. It has already come so far, with accredited universities offering online programs, and even ivy league schools offering extension programs online, and so I feel as though this is a trend that will continue to grow.

I think that within the next few years, we will not only see an increase in popularity when it comes to online degree programs, but also within the training and professional development community. I think more companies will realize that they can save valuable time and money by providing training online, and there will be a shift from presenter-based training to online training. According to the ASAE website, “The shift to online education is growing not only in the formal education system, but also in professional development and continuing education required for certification” (para. 5). The same website also notes that, “more than 96 percent of the very largest institutions have some online offerings—more than double the rate observed for the smallest institutions” (para. 2). Given that online learning is making strides like this, I think it’s safe to say that the perception of online learning will become more favorable as the years pass. Supervisors who may not be fans of online degrees will see the value and possibly see the two types of degrees as equal.

George Siemens (n.d.) mentions that the growing popularity of online learning can be attributed to the “ability to communicate with diverse and global groups” (Laureate Education). I think this will allow for a more supportive outlook on online learning because companies will see that they can collaborate with their global counterparts, and students will gain insight into other cultures by studying with others from all over the world. I have had these experiences, both in the corporate world and as a student, and I plan to speak highly of both experiences when asked for my opinion about distance learning. As long as those who have had positive experiences in the area of online learning continue to advocate for its validity, I know we can collectively -- slowly but surely -- change the view to a completely positive one. Specifically as a designer, I can share my knowledge about the work that goes in on the backend to make people understand that the instructors are qualified and the content is built especially for it to be effective in an online setting.

Given my own experiences and beliefs about online learning, I sincerely hope that it continues to be an area of education that grows and gains popularity. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 20 years almost all courses are offered online, or if many universities become entirely distance-education-based. In the past decade or so, technology has come such a long way, and curriculum has become more focused. On top of that, curriculum is being developed entirely for online learning instead of being adapted. These facts allude to a promising future for distance learning, and I will always be an advocate for a continued positive outcome.


Growing popularity of online education relative to that of classroom-based courses. (n.d.).
Retrieved from ASAE website:

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved

Sunday, February 22, 2015

EDUC 6135 - Week 7 - Converting to a Distance Learning Format

For this week's assignment, I took my technical writer skills and had a little bit of fun creating a document. It's very simplistic, but also realistic. I decided to use a conversational tone, so as not to scare away anyone who may actually be interested in converting a course from classroom to hybrid.

I decided to focus mainly on the areas asked of us in the prompt:

  • What are some of the pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before converting his program?
  • What aspects of his original training program could be enhanced in the distance learning format?
  • How will his role, as trainer, change in a distance learning environment?
  • What steps should the trainer take to encourage the trainees to communicate online?

My headers involved an introduction, first steps, technology, what you need to know, and student participation. I then focused on sub-headings dealing with each category. I used what we learned in this course about pre-planning and suggested storyboarding and outlining objectives as imperative planning strategies, and I took what we learned about technology and wrote a whole section about that. One of the most important pieces of this, to me, was the focus on the difference between instructor and facilitator, so I made sure to outline all major differences.

I hope to be able to put this guide to use one day, granted I will have to change some of the subject matter.

**For some reason, I don't think the embed tool is working for me, so here is the link to my document.