Distance Education

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Analyzing Scope Creep

Scope Creep could be described as the uncontrolled changes in the requirements of the project as defined.  In any project, you will expect a clearly defined project scope; you still have to beware of scope creep. Scope creep tend to  arise when new features are added to product designs that have already been approved, without providing equivalent increases in budget, time and/or resources. In order to address scope creep challenge, the best approach is to set up a well-controlled formal process known as a change control system.
My blog is based on an experience during an interview with my cousin about the failure experienced in his business.  The incident occurred about 4 years ago.

                Tim had a good intention to be self- employed. So he quit his real estate business after the economic downturn with the hope of establishing a business to sustain himself and his family. He wants to produce grilled goat meat, and chicken for sale.  His criteria originated from considering fast food franchise as a viable business,   and believing   the flocks of the immigrant population would be his primary customers.
He had some money saved he hopes to secure a loan from the bank, and have friends invest in the business.  He also intends to partner with a friend to run the business.  They will both have a 50/50 share in the business.
As he worked on researching what he will need to accomplish this goal, he learned that it will require a USDA involvement and approval. The local health official’s involvement and layers of approval from the location (warehouse), to the equipments required to produce the products.  He quickly rented a place and renovated the location for his business. After all the expenditure, the licensing authority informed his that they are unable to approve the location. After multiple negotiations, he was ordered to tear it down and rebuild the warehouse to the USDA specification. The final approval of the location lingered for about 18 months.  He managed to get a small business loan from the Latino organization in Washington, DC.  He used the money to build the warehouse to the specification. By the approval date, he was already broke and had no money to operate the business.  His rent was mounting in arrears, and the repayment plan of the loan begins.  
In his plan, he knew he could get the raw material (fresh goat meat and chicken) from local farms. Little did he learn from USDA that he could only purchase materials from only USDA approved farms. In his discovery, USDA farms products are higher in price than other regular livestock farms. This factor will cause his projected product price to increase.
Another interesting aspect of the operation is documentation of almost every aspect of the production. Tim lacks the ability to complete documentation requirements while working in production. He was informed about hiring employees, but knew he cannot afford the salary.  

Scope creep Issues.
The following issues impact the establishment of the business. In my opinion, the business had problems at almost every stage such as Conceive, Define, start, perform, and Evaluation.

Conceive Stage

Funding- the estimation of cost, expenditures, facilities, equipment purchases, renovations and contingency plans  were not properly identified  before embarking on this project.  In a nut shell, the entire approach to the project needs to change. Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008) states that “input from more than 500 project managers regarding the most important single problem facing project managers indicates  that coping  with change is at the top of their list.”
Tim just want a business, no feasibility study was done. Interestingly, USDA told him there is no one in USA producing grilled goat as of the time of his business initiation. This makes it difficult to compare his idea to similar businesses; instead, they got creative, that lead to the layers of delay in the approval process.
He was unprepared and unaware of the different levels of regulations, license and approval requirements.

Define /planning stage

 In his planning, he had no business plan to identify, analyze and define what this business will need to thrive. He had no prior experience in the business. He just knew that edible products sell in the fast food business.
There was no adequate plan on how he will purchase the raw materials and other ingredients to prepare this product. The surprise occurs after the fact.
 The scope of other resources was left out of his vision. In my opinion, the lack of feasibility resulted in the frustration encountered with time frames and delay in the approval process.

Project Start stage

The business was unable to start operation once approved, because everything was wrong from the onset.  The owner was unable to purchase the materials to start operation as planned. Though, the business had viable customers. Despite all these challenges, the business continues to run in a substandard manner. The worst happened when the landlord evicted them because they owed about a year and half rent.  

How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time?

 Based on the challenges encountered by the business, the business partner part ways with my cousin.  He was stuck with the business and believed he could get by, ran on credit until eviction.  Budrovich, (n.d.) indicated that the standard five variables that challenge project manager are Time, money, scope, people and quality.

What could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

I am proud of what I have learned so far in this course, because the experience taught me the foundation of project management and standard of approach to project management.  With this in mind, every aspect of a project is important. It is not just enough to conceive an idea, but be realistic about analyzing, planning and identifying all the crucial aspects of the project idea, be able to determine how the progress will be assessed.
I will partner with USDA to support /advice me on all the requirements of this operation, have the necessary documentation, schedules/timelines, and clarify expectation from the beginning of the project. According to Suchan, J. (2007),” your ability to get buy-ins from the entire stakeholder will help to streamline the approval process, and keeps information flowing”.
I will do everything to get the experts involved, I will do my research, I will have a concrete plan about the finances of the business. 


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.
Suchan, J. (2007) Establish and manage the project stakeholders list. Retrieved November 8, 2011 from
Managing Scope Creep in Project Management. (n.d.). Retrieved fromhttp://www.villanovau.com/project-management-scope-creep/.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Communicating Effectively

      “What we see and hear from each other is only the tip of the iceberg. Lying underneath the waterline of our words and actions is a much fuller, richer set of information”.  Strider, (2002) Communication in project management cannot be overemphasized.  In general, people communicate through a variety of means but are the communication effective?  Projects are conceived with excellent plan, hoping for a desired outcome often fails, because of inappropriate communication strategies.  This blog discusses a piece of communication in various modalities. 

How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?

As an Email (written Text).
The email is direct. The message implies Jane, pleading to Mark to get his part of the project done to enable her move forward.  She appears desperate, by the choice words used to request for the report, but failed to mention exactly when she needs the report. As noted by Stolovitch, (n.d.) “Effective communication is influenced by the spirit and attitude, tonality and body language, timing and personality of the recipient”.  Though, the email was a written text, it was obvious to note the spirit and attitude of the writer. 

As a Voice Message (Audio)
This voice message presented an interesting version of the message. The speaker voice was cautious, calm and directly expressed purpose of the communication. The voice reflected a friendly   reminder to Mark about the ETA report. The voice message reflected a level of familiarities between the speaker and the receiver. The speaker (Jane) knew Mark’s schedule,  and was considerate by referring to his busy day, somewhat empathizing with him,  and hoping that Mark could find some time to get  back to the much needed report. 

As a face-2-face communication (Video cast)

During the f2f conversation, the presence of the speaker made a difference in the way I received the message. Looking at her face, listening to her, reading her facial expression, her lips movement, the tone of her voice impacted the way I received the message. Though, she was demanding an answer, she was respectful and ended her conversation with a smile. Depending on the relationship between the two parties the smile could be identified as a heartening gesture, or could be a distracter. Stolovitch, (n.d) cautions on communicators “to avoid ambiguity” This may be perceived as lack of seriousness in the content of the message. 

What factors influenced how you perceived the message?

Judging from what I wrote earlier on the written text, and what just occurred in the voice message, and f2f communication, the speaker in all the scenarios is attempting to get work done and get results. She may need to use the approach described by   Budrovich (n.d) “Tailor your communication strategy to fit the specific needs of each stakeholder”.   In reality, I do not think that the speaker should use all the three or more methods to get her point across. Instead, her ability to recognize Mark’s communication preference will make it easy to tailor her communication to get the outcome.
Other factors that of influence how a message is perceived are   values, noise, perception, encoding, beliefs, decoding, length of conversation, repetition, past experiences and expectations. This could occur both ways.  Considering cultural backgrounds when communicating during a project is an important factor nowadays, due to technological advancement, and diversity in the workplace.
Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?

 This is a subjective question, because as learner’s we are motivated to react to a piece of the information base on a number of reasons.  One major gap is that people have different preferences and approaches to “what constitute effective communication”. For example, being an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner may influence your perception, orientation to details and what you want in a communication. This is because; different channels of information could determine the strengths and weaknesses of communication in question.
In the sample, provided f2f (video cast) communication seems to make the most sense in my opinion.  Knowing that Mark is extremely busy with other responsibilities, there is a possibility Mark might not check his voice message. Considering the email, Mark might not be at his desk to read it.  Going to Mark and discussing the need as demonstrated in the video cast could increase the possibility of getting an answer sooner. If the two have a positive working relationship, it works even better.

What are the implications of what you learned from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team? 

Communication must be planned, coordinated, managed and reported between the team and the project leader. When working on any project, each member is responsible to, and accountable for discussing the progress of the project to other members as assigned. Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer. (2008) Noted that “PM should consider providing project progress reports to supervisors, upper management, the client or customer, project team members, others who are helping on the project, and others who are affected by the project results.”
In organization setting, communication takes different shapes and forms.  Stolovitch, (n.d) states that standard of communication with clients should address the following;
Response to time frames.
Form of oral / written communication.
Establish rules of participation and
Avoid an ambiguity.
Be precise.
Document everything.
As I process the instruction in the exercise” The Art of Effective Communication’ I recognized that some of my responses is based on my own perception, limitation, and assumptions.  To succeed in any projects, all the assumptions and constrained must be discussed prior to or as situation arises.  Portny et.al. (2008) States that “PM must consider project assumptions when they develop their project risk management plan.”

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.
Laureate Education, Inc. (n.d.). Project Management Concerns: Communication Strategies and
Organizational Culture [Video B]. Laureate Education, Inc. [Producer]. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=6052000&Survey=1&47=7840074&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

I recalled a team project titled “Training Steering Committee” This event took place at work about four years ago.  The memory lived with me till today. Little did I know about IDT/ PM at that time? The idea was brilliant. It was initiated by the Director of training, my supervisor.  The purpose was to “Change the organization” by doing the following.
a. Develop adjunct facilitator’s for recurrent training due to agency expansion.
b. Revise agency orientation for new hires.
c. Revise existing and create a new agency policy on training.
d. Develop advance courses for clinical professional s in the organization.

 The director identified samples of employees from across the entire organization for representation. The response was quite compelling at the first few meetings, but the director did not use a Project Management approach. Murphy, (1994). The benefit of using a formal project a management approach is that needed expertise within the corporation can be identified and allocated to ensure that project accomplishes its goals”. 

The director consulted with the agency CEO, who was in support of the project, but the director failed to notify his immediate supervisor, director of Human Resources who holds the ultimate decision about the project.  The identified members were notified. There was an elaborate kick off meeting. At the meeting, the members were presented with the purpose of the gathering. The members were pleased to be part of the needed change.

       During the meeting, members volunteered to function as leaders and supporters of the sub groups. Other employees present were unwilling to participate because they were unsure about the need for all the work to be done. Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008) state “the project manager must take the initiative to figure out what the real needs are”. In addition, the leader should be able to explain the origin of the need. Not just an intention to change the organization. The rest of the meeting turned to an opportunity to praise the leader of the project for the brilliant ideas. 

There were four different sub-groups representing the four purposes of the committee. Each of them was assigned to work on the subtitles and produce a procedure, a policy, a new curriculum at the end of the project.  The details of the deliverables, timelines, and outcomes were discussed by each sub group at subsequent meetings as that was not discussed at the kick off meeting.  Level of commitment was vague after the first general meeting. The resulted in role changes from one meeting to the other.
 In some meetings, the number of employees in attendance determines the assigned roles.  The process became a nightmare.  Meanwhile, there was no statement of work from each of the assigned subgroup.  The work breakdown was created as seen feasible by each group. They group were not reporting to anyone for supervision during the work stages.  At the end of the project, a lot of unpredictable troubled challenges emerged.
  •  Members of this committee were being penalized for abandoning their primary responsibilities because the idea was not presented for approval in the first place. Greer (2010) States “the project manager must define the project concept clearly enough so that he can get support from the key people in the organization”.
  •  A number of documents were developed i.e. Adjunct facilitator’s process. Revised agency orientation, training policies, and couple advanced curriculum were developed by personnel with no IDT skills. None of the draft documents was approved.
  • The committee was informed that no single committee can create or revise agency policies without formal approval of the board members. According to Suchan, J. (2007). “Ability to get buy-ins from the entire stakeholder will help you accomplish the project goals by reducing project cycle, and streamline the approval process”.
  • The Project leader was asked to dissolve the project and the members. Portny, et. al., (2008) identified three basic activities in project management. Planning, Organizing, and controlling. With what I know today, I cannot recall a serious level of planning during the process. It was an excellent thought, and he sped to action which ultimately ended in lack of implementation.
  •  The project had a kick off meeting, but the meeting did not spell out the roles and responsibilities, clarify deliverable and time lines, identify members commitment. The project was ongoing for about two years before it ended.
At the time of this event, I was new to the organization. Because of my role, I have less knowledge about the procedures of operation, though; I was in support of my director of training.  Based on what I have learned in the previous courses about organization leadership, functions and operation, I know that the director took a number of personal decisions because he has worked there longer, he has very excellent people skills,  and could persuade his peers to see things his way. I will also like to add that, the procedures of initiating an idea were not clearly stated as what we have now.

Some positives  
The process was an eye opener for the organization. From the crooked foundation laid by the director of training, the organization experienced major expansion in the past two years. Some of the ideas generated by the committee are currently revised, and presented to initiate the change process.

The director was able to create a strong, cohesive team to work on the project, but the communication amongst the team was ineffective because of lack of supervision. 

The agency will start a new hire orientation curriculum in January 2012
There are 39 adjunct facilitators across the organization. I am currently leading the project on adjuncts.
Currently the organization have  policy and procedure committee that are devoted to revising old policies and create new ones as needed based on Medicaid/Medicare funding.
Employees in need of advance courses or CEU’s credits are being supported to accomplish the goals outside of the organization. 

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (LaureateCustom Ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.
Murphy, C. (1994). Utilizing project management techniques in the design of instructional materials.Performance & Instruction, 33(3), 9–11.
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.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Project Management EDUC 6145

Hello Class: Welcome to my Project Management Blog. I look forward to learn with all of you.
Have fun.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reflection on the Future Of Distance Education

      Distance education continues to evolve.  DE is at a significant turning point in the history of education, improvement in government operations, and in the corporate environment.  Siemens, (n.d.) “Claimed that online courses and degrees are acceptable and even better received than F2F courses because people are getting comfortable with online classes”.

What do you think the perceptions of distance learning will be in the future (in 5–10 years; 10–20 years)?
      The future is brighter. There is a higher level involvement at higher institution, K1-12, in conjunction with the government to standardize the operation   in distance learning community.  This is what will shape the future.  Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, (2009).  State that more and more research is proving that distance education provides equivalent or even superior education.
Distance education will continue to grow dramatically. Siemes (n.d.) discussed the growing acceptance of DE as fueled by:
·         Increase in online communication.
·         Practical experiences with new tools.
·         Growing sense of comfort with online discourse.
·         Ability to communicate with diverse and global groups.
     Currently, new technologies are unveiled at least, three to four times a year; the use of distance learning is expected to increase in the next decade.   Simonson, et. al., (2009), state that students of all ages are engaging in distance education. As more technology resources are becoming available to education settings, more students are becoming more involved in learning at a distance.”
     In addition, Siemes (n.d.) states that DE benefits corporation by allowing them to interact with different offices around the world.   Though a number of critics continue to challenge the validity and the benefits that DE claims, it is obvious that the benefits outweigh the challenges.  DE is here to stay.  The major challenge on the part of Instructional Designers in the field is to continue to establish the standard of practice across the board. Judging from what is happening now, organizations and institutions aspire to convert their traditional f2f curriculum to an online course to remain competitive in this era. That should not be the practice. There are a number of theories and practices that could guide organizations seeking to adopt distance learning.  Equivalency theory is practical in the design of distance learning experiences, and should be considered especially when “converting” traditional classroom experiences into distance experiences. As an instructional designer, we must consider the differences between traditional and distance learning, to develop learning experiences appropriate for the learner in their environment.

How can you as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning?
Gambescia, & Paolucci (2009) discussed the fact that a student attending college level online courses has exceeded any other kind of distance learning. In addition, visibility, academic integrity, and proper marketing can determine the success of a learning program.
 As an instructional designer, my individual contribution to the best practices approach is crucial. We all live in a small world, where people are entitled to their opinion. Moving forward, providing  a real experience, a wow moment, based on facts, and the plight to  generate a thought provoking adventure to the world of distance learners is what I aspire to add.
How will you be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education?
I am one of the people that are more connected to the emerging technologies in all aspects of my live.  I think the first thing I will do  to maintain a positive force for the  continuous  improvement in DE,  is to become a member of various  organizations  that advocate for the future of Distance learning in my immediate environment.
I will commit to continuous review of the standard of practice, volunteering at Walden community of learners, and in communication with my predecessor, beyond my degree accomplishment.  I am enthusiastic to be a part of this program, knowing the benefits of the quality of information that is presented in the pursuit of learning.  
I will increase the awareness of my organization to the possibilities offered by online learning, such as using multimedia tools and other approaches that may not be accessible in a f2f learning environment.
I recognized the possibility for improvement with some of the DL offerings; I will consider how to influence the learner-learner, and learner-instructor interaction, which seems odd, to most unfamiliar with DL.  I will concentrate on the diversity of the learners, and how to use the information to improve their experience.
       In conclusion, there are still negative perceptions of distance learning, I may not be able to change that fact. Adults with multiple responsibilities are tuned to participate in distance learning more than other population.  As more learners adapt to newer technologies, and as information become more accessible at the finger-tip, the demands for distance learning will continue to gain greater acceptance in the future.
Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online   
                   degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved  
                    from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html.
Kaufman, R., Watkins, R.,   and Guerra, I.  (2001). The future of Distance learning: Defining and sustaining
                  Useful Results.   http://www.megaplanning.com/articles/FutureofDLinEdTech.pdf.
Siemens, G.  (2010). Facilitating Online Learning (Video). Retrieved from Laureate Inc.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a
                    Distance: Foundations of distance education (4th Ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Best Practices Guide

Summary of Converting to a distance learning Format

As you start your new role as a facilitator in a blended learning environment, consider the best practices guide. Know the differences between f2f and a blended course. Devote time to improve your skills, and plan ahead of time to try out the technologies available to you.

Your content and the learning outcomes should be align with the f2f course requirements. Though, the choice of activities and communication will occur through the discussion board. Your role is to promote learners engagement, offer support and feedback as needed.  You are to facilitate learning, by going over the strategies presented in the guides, feel free to explore more information, and give your learners equal opportunity.

Simonson, et al., (2009) states, “the keys to a successful distance education are in the design, development, and delivery of instruction, and are not related to geography or time.”

 Here is a link to my Best Practices Guide.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Application: Blog-The Impact of Open Source

     This blog discusses the impact of open source.  I chose to analyze an open source offering from Stanford University, one of the leading members in the open source community.
Open source refers to program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community.
Introduction to Databases. URL-  http://www.db-class.org/course/auth/welcome .
I chose this course to increase my knowledge about technology related courses. The review gave me an opportunity to access another CMS’ system, other than what I have been presented at Walden. 

Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment? How so? 

     Introduction to Databases in my opinion is thoughtfully prepared for DL environment. This is because the site outlook is clean, clear, organized, and highlights Course Information in bold readable text.  There was an introduction to the course, by the instructor, and why the course is scheduled to hold. The You-tube video describes the course content, expectation, and application and certification process.    Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek. (2009) State, ‘instructors of online courses must make the course organization, calendar of activities, and expectations as clear as possible.”

 Interestingly, the same course is offered to the traditional student. The video mentioned that this course has been modified for open source purposes. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek. (2009) Cautioned that …” courses taught previously in a traditional classroom may need to be retooled. The focus of the instruction shifts to visual presentation, engaged learners and careful timing of presentation of information. ”p.127.
Introduction to databases requires a high speed internet connection, because the course content is based on videos and online exercises. The course is entirely asynchronous and offers multiple visual cues.  The course information includes a detailed syllabus, course schedule and what will be covered for the next 9 weeks. In addition, there are optional exercises for learners to get accustomed to the instruction.  This is not a credit based course, but a certificate of participation will be issued at the end of the course.  Course will use topic approach with about 9 topics total.  This course has weekly assignments, and one examination that will be posted later in the course. 

Though,   there are no prerequisites for this course, information pertaining to other materials, technology tools, lecture videos, textbooks (optional), communication and contacts were clearly posted on the main page as FAQ. This is helpful for anyone interested in the course before course registration.
A discussion forum is included as part of the course content. Questions not answered by other students will be answered by the teaching staff; top-ranked questions will be discussed by the instructor in a weekly video.

Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook? 

   During my review of “Introduction to Databases” I realized that the course is scheduled to start in October 10, 2011 and will run till the end of December, 2011. Course followed the standard of identifying the goals and objectives. Simonson et al. (2009) the absence of stated learning objectives makes observing and measuring learning outcomes impossible.

 Part of the introductory information highlights the different communication methods for this course. Already, there are multiple announcements about course offerings, and other pertinent information. There is a clear understanding of when and how the instructors will respond to questions or signs of difficulty.  This support what Simonson et al (2009) wrote” another important issue when teaching online is that of establishing the communication framework.”

All the requirements are complete and posted so that new distance learners can familiarize themselves with the layout of the site.  A crucial aspect is the schedule of assignment. When I signed for Introduction to database, all required assignments are posted with due dates, and expectation are clear. 

Course identified the technology, and how to access the selected software’s download.  The key here is” to ensure that whatever technology is accessible by learners and the facilitators” Piskurich (n.d). Technology should be engaging to all types of learners.  The course identified the basic requirements of the learners especially in the use of technology tools. There are optional exercises to work on before the beginning of the course. I consider those as warm up exercises. An introductory exercise discusses the learner’s context and experiences. I read some of the postings;  the environment is quite diverse. Morrison, Ross and Kemp (2004) as cited by Simonson et al. 2009 refer to the three types of context: Orienting, instructional and transfer context. Additional considerations posted identified the site coordinators and their roles.

Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for students?

     Introduction to Database defined the activities, the application, and planned to give learners access to a hands-on experience working with raw data   as an opportunity to build their skills. Consequently, there are a number of prerequisite topics to ease the learners to the new topic during the course. 

The discussion forum will be assessed weekly to monitor the level of interaction among the learners. Assignments will be completed via this method. Simonson et al (2009) cited Kanuka, Rourke, and Laflamme’s (2007) viewpoint that learner engagement comes from “well-structured” instruction with “clear learner’s responsibilities” that “provokes deeper levels of discussion” p. 166.  Finally, the site offers the opportunity for learners to evaluate the course, instructor, and ease of use of this site for future improvement. 

Piskurich, G. & Chaseur, J. (n.d.) Laureate Video Presentation. 

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance:        
        Foundations of distance education (4th Ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson

Webopedia, (2011) Open source. Retrieved  from   

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Application: Blog-Selecting Distance Learning Technology

Application: Blog—Selecting Distance Learning Technologies.

 I chose Example #1:  Collaborative Training Environment
A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

Two distance Learning technologies selected.
1.       Web conferencing
2.        Wiki  

The purpose of this training is to train geographically dispersed employees on “how to use the new automated staff information system”.  The training requires extensive collaboration across the regional offices, with the use of collaborative software. Collaborative software helps facilitate action-oriented teams working together over geographic distances by providing tools that aid communication, collaboration and the process of problem solving. Additionally, collaborative software may support project management functions such as task assignments, time-managing deadlines, and shared calendars.  Wikipedia, 2011.

Judging from the request above, I will conduct a rapid assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to identify the best technology to use in my course delivery. I consider this first step, because of the geographical location of the other regional offices. I want to make sure that whatever technology I chose will be compatible across the board.  It is a fact that web-based training offers companies the ability to reach a mass audience quickly, assess and measure results, and reduces manpower costs.

As I identify  the learner’s, another consideration will be to discuss with other ID professional the communication styles adopted in the past, the success and challenges. I will not like to create a burden to the employees using technology adopted with resentment.   Duarte and Snyder, (2006)” People who lead and work in virtual teams need to have special skills, including an understanding of human dynamics, knowledge of how to manage across functional areas and national cultures, and the ability to use communication technologies as their primary means of communicating and collaborating.”

 Web conferencing system software is a communications tool that allows the user to build community and disseminate information.  Wikipedia, 2011 defines Web conferencing refers to a service that allows conferencing events to be shared with remote locations. Most vendors also provide either a recorded copy of an event or a means for a subscriber to record an event. The service allows information to be shared simultaneously, across geographically dispersed locations in nearly real-time. Applications for web conferencing include meetings, training events, lectures, or short presentations from any computer.

The second technology tool is Wiki. Baldarrain, (2006) described” wiki as a site designed to facilitate the exchange of information within and between teams”. Wiki allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used collaboratively by multiple users. Wikipedia, 2011.

I will design an orientation to the ‘New Automated Staff information system” I assume this is either new to the organization, or a change to the current system. The instruction did not specify.  Using a voice over power point presentation, with visual images of how the new system works. I will upload to a web conference system.  I will identify the key elements of the new automated system, describe how it works, and identify staff expectation and responsibility.  The New Automated staff information system will have a hand-on experience (Simulation) on how it works; this will be done by breaking the functions into a step-by -step process.  This process will assist (designer and learners) in the assessment of areas of difficulty.
I will provide a FAQ session that answers learner’s questions.  I will also provide a discussion forum via wiki for collaboration across the entire region. There will be a link to contact me by phone or email in case there are unresolved issues about the usage or other technical difficulties.

Web Conferencing stories:
Web conferencing according to the resources provided on the “web success story” can be view through this link. http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/biztools/article.php/3451951/A-Web-Conferencing-Success-Story.htm.
A practical experience by Papa John Pizza, located across America, and other countries shred their success story. Please read. http://www.business-software.com/web-conferencing/web-conferencing-success-stories.php.

Wiki Success stories:
Wiki is beneficial to a number of organizations, both profit and non-profit in that it enhances the communication, saves time, knowledge sharing, and collaboration amongst any group of people.
Wiki information can be updated without any administrative protocol. Distribution of materials occurs instantly, and wiki pages have the capabilities to, track information, share spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides, videos and much more.
Here is a link to how an organization used wiki to manage work requirements.  http://www.bridging-the-gap.com/wiki-requirements-management-benefits/.

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student  
           Interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139–153.
 Duarte, D. L & Snyder, N. T. (2006) Virtual Teams. Strategies, Tools, and Techniques that Succeed. 
           Second Ed. p 2. Retrieved September 22, 2011 from      
 Wikipedia, (2011). Collaborative Software.  Retrieved September 22, 2011 from   
Wikipedia, (2011). Wiki - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.) Retrieved, September, 23, 2011 from    

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Updated mind map

Hello: Please check the updated image of my mind map.