This week, we are to reflect on a project in either our personal or professional life. I am choosing a personal project, because the largest part of the project resulted in an epic failure, and I only have myself to blame. I did not realize that I was playing the part of the project manager (PM), but after starting this course, I see PM was truly my role, and I failed.

A large oak tree fell in my backyard. The base of the tree is approximately 5 ft. in diameter and the height of the tree is approx. 50-60 ft. In addition, three smaller trees (15 ft.) needed to be cut down. Also, some basic trimming and cleanup was in order (I have an acre).

My project was to invite friends to assist in helping with cutting up the tree and removing it from the backyard. Cutting down the smaller trees, and doing basic trimming around the edges of the property, and cleanup of weeds and leaves. I have two gas-powered chainsaws, one brand new, and one older. In addition, I have a gas- powered tree trimmer, which could be used for smaller limbs. One of my friends also stated they could bring their chainsaw for some of the lighter work, as it is smaller than both of mine. I planned to have a BBQ after we were done with the tree as payment for everyone’s hard work.

In preparation for the project:

  • Invitations were sent via Facebook and text messages, with RSVP received from approximately 10 people.
    • Tasked everyone with bringing their own lawn chairs
  • Purchased a second chainsaw, bigger than the one I already owned
    • Gas/oil mix necessary to power the saws
    • Chain lube needed to keep the chainsaws in working order
  • Cleaned BBQ Grill
    • Filled Propane Tank
  • Purchased needed items for BBQ
    • Drinks
    • Meats
    • Buns
    • Condiments
    • Ice
    • Plates
    • Cups
    • Utensils
  • Mowed yard
  • Set up lights
  • Set up Lawn Chairs and Table for food items
  • Set out chainsaws, gas/oil mix, chain lube, trimmer, clippers, rakes, and shovels.

Project results: The main trunk of the tree and the larger branches are still there. The three smaller trees were successfully removed, and one of the stumps. The other cleanup and trimming was successful. Why the epic fail on the large tree removal?

Kickoff of the project went smoothly. As friends arrived tasks were divided, and equipment provided, and work began.

My original chainsaw would not start, the primer bubble was broken, and one could not be found at any of the local hardware stores. The friend’s chainsaw was electric and only able to take care of smaller limbs, same with the gas-tree trimmer. The new chainsaw was first operated by someone who said they had ‘experience’ using a chainsaw. Unfortunately this ‘experience’ was under the supervision of their grandfather, who would stop them periodically and add chain lube as needed. The chain was therefore not properly lubricated and within a short period of time, the chain would no longer cut efficiently and was ‘burnt up’. The hardware stores did not have the proper replacement chain in stock, so this would have to be ordered.

The three trees were removed and it was decided that the stumps would also need to be removed. However, this required the PM (me) to purchase a pick-ax, and only two individuals were able to use effectively. They were exhausted after removing the first stump.

The general trimming and cleanup was then concentrated on and was successfully completed, and the evening was capped off with an excellent BBQ and bonfire, effectively removing all of the trimmings.

Ultimately, I can place the failure of the main piece of the project at my feet, as the PM of the project, I did not make sure I had all of the correct resources in working order (chainsaw). I also did not assign the task of the use of the new chainsaw to an experienced user. I also did not have a contingency plan (back up parts for chainsaws and the correct equipment to remove the stumps (pick-ax). Though this was not part of the original plan, it should have been. So I overlooked an important task and equipment need (Portny, Mantel, Merideth, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008) . The project would have been more successful if:

  • Had both gas-powered chainsaws in proper working order prior to the date of the project start.
  • Assigned an experienced user to the one working gas-powered chainsaw.
    • Or communicated to the assigned user the need to properly check the level of chain lube ever 15-20 minutes of use, and refill as needed.
      • Oversaw the use
  • Realized the need to remove not just the three trees but the stumps, and purchased the correct equipment prior to the project start.
  • Delegated going to the hardware store (multiple times) to someone else, because every time I came back, another issue had arisen.
    • Staying on site overseeing the progress, may have prevented the ‘burn out’ of the chain on the one chainsaw that was capable of completing the project.

I still have the majority of the large tree in my backyard. I have had an estimate on what it would cost to have it removed professionally. I know with a bit more planning and preparation, I can get my group of friends together to accomplish this task for significantly less money and be successful. I have learned much from the mistakes I made in my planning, preparation and communication on the first project. I will be able to apply this knowledge to the follow-up project to secure a successful outcome.

Reference

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.

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Welcome New Followers

Posted: 03/04/2015 in Assignments

I would like to welcome any new followers. I am not an active blogger, simply because of shortage of time. I do enjoy using my RSS reader to follow others blogs. I am looking forward to getting into the Project Management course. It feels like we just jumped from the frying pan into the fire, no different from the day-to-day work experience of many of us. I am enjoying the experience, challenges, and interactions with my classmates. Please feel free to reach out at anytime if you need help or just a couple of words of encouragement. I may be as stuck as you are; I do believe two minds are better than one. Good luck with the course!

Reflections

Starting this course, I was not aware of how long distance education has existed. Distance education is over 160 years old (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). It was interesting this week to look at the interview responses of the different students in the class, and consider how much perceptions about distance education or online learning still vary. As someone who would not have been able to continue their education without the benefit of online learning, I am excited to see the increase in the acceptance of online degrees by both the general population and business leaders. “Thirty-seven percent of Americans-up from 30 percent two years ago-believe online providers offer a high-quality education, and almost half of business leaders said they were very or somewhat likely to hire a candidate with an online degree over one with a traditional degree” (Grasgreen, 2014, para. 19).

Where does this leave us in the next 5 to 10 years, or even 10 to 20 years? In my opinion, online education will continue to become more acceptable as technology continues to make the world a smaller place and as we have “growing sense of comfort” with new technologies (Laureate, n.d.). I can see in the next 5 to 10 years, no distinction made between an online or traditional degrees. I can envision a world where what we now consider the “traditional” classroom, no longer exists. Will there still be brick and mortar universities? Probably, as there will still be supporters of this type of tried and true form of education. However, I can see even in these institutions the classrooms are technology centers, with the focus on the learners and not the instructor. I see a campus bookstore whom checks out laptops or tablets and not textbooks. Or perhaps we have advanced to the point where we are able to gain these ‘libraries of information ‘directly through a download directly to our brain. I am not seeing a limit to what technology is capable of, I do see where bureaucracy and the protection of personal rights will and should slow down some of the advancements.

To enhance my career opportunities and trumpet the value of my chosen field. It is in my best interests to tout the value of online education, and be a proponent of the effectiveness of online learning. To further promote instructional design in the online environment I can strive to create instructional programs where the majority of the students are able to master the course objectives and demonstrate their ability to use what they have learned in a practical environment (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2013). I can ensure course design applies the appropriate learning theory and principles, taking into account the different learner characteristics by creating the necessary relationships between the different elements and components in the design model (Morrison et al., 2013).

To be a positive force for continued improvement of distance learning, I need to continue to improve myself, both my understanding of different learning theories and the proper application of these theories based on each situation. Looking back on the past eight weeks, I have been introduced to technology and tools to enhance learning. Prior to this course I was ignorant of the vast majority of these tools. To be successful as an ID, I need to stay on top of the tools technology makes available. I need to critically evaluate if these tools are effective to accomplish the learning objectives. I will need to have an understanding and comfort level working with the tools so I can design learning which uses these tools effectively.

The future of the value placed on instructional design and the success of online learning are tied together. How well we are able to perform and develop learning that is effective and unanimously considered equivalent or better than a traditional classroom may spell out the success and longevity of instructional design as a highly regarded profession, and the continued growth of online learning.

References

Grasgreen, A. (2014). Ready or Not. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/26/provosts-business-leaders-disagree-graduates-career-readiness#sthash.iN5jaD97.dpbs

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance learning (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Week 7 Assignment

Posted: 02/26/2015 in Assignments

This week we were asked to create a Best Practices Guide for moving a training course from a traditional classroom setting to an online environment. This was a challenging project as many of us were working on finishing up our CMS page. There is so much information one needs to have a grasp of to take on this challenge, it was difficult to narrow it down to specific highlights. I could see how this project could be worked on over two or three weeks to truly come up with a quality guide. As time permits in the future I plan to edit or revamp this guide as a personal reference for myself.

Here is the link to the guide I created.

WK7_Assign_Heche_J

The Impact of Open Source

Posted: 02/09/2015 in Assignments

MIT has an extensive list of open course ware that it makes available to on the web, free of charge, and is available under the Creative Commons License. This license allows others to use the content, as long as proper recognition is given, a link to the Creative Commons License is attached, and it is notated if the material has been altered. It cannot be used for commercial purposes.

The content replicates what students enrolled in MIT experience, with the exception of specific material that is Copyright protected and used in-house. I selected the course entitled “Technologies for Creative Learning”, found at http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/media-arts-and-sciences/mas-714j-technologies-for-creative-learning-fall-2009/index.htm

This course is a blended learning course, with students participating in a blog, class sessions, and taking on the role of facilitation in one class session.

From the outset the design of the course is very easy to navigate, with all of the links on the course homepage for easy access. When a link is click it with open information to the right of the link, but retains the integrity of the navigation pane.

The Syllabus is very basic, with the requirements for participation, and a calendar showing the session and topic, with due dates for activities. It notates that there will be a final project, and how grading is broken into thirds; class participation, contribution to the blog, and final project.

The required reading list is very comprehensive and is broken into what is required for each learning session. For those that would like to experience the course like a MIT student, there is a link where the textbooks could be purchased. Other materials are linked as PDFs. For someone taking this course as an open course, they can benefit from the asynchronous information the students in the class posted to the discussions on the class blog, as these are attached to the reading list. This is a great way to follow the discussion and learn from others that participated in the course (Simonson, Smaldino, Albrights, & Zvacek, 2012).

The Assignment link is full of different activities for students to complete for different learning sessions. Several of the activities have the students perform the activity with one resource and then use an additional resources to determine which has the better outcome (Simonson, et al., 2012). In addition to the completion of different activities, students are provided a list of questions to think about that will be discussed in the next face-to-face session. Using this type of a flipped classroom approach has proved very beneficial to focusing more time in the classroom on the learning aspect and not the teaching aspect (Hill, 2013). Many of assignments of examples of what other students have created, this provides visual cues and aids appeals to different learners and is important for distance learners as they do not have the advantage of the interaction and visual learning typical of a traditional classroom (Simonson et al., 2012).

Throughout the course instructors encourage questions and discussion during the classroom time, but also via the blog, and by encouraging students to work on projects together to collaborate on ideas and projects (Simonson et al., 2012). This is one of the ways that blended courses have an advantage over a strictly on line course. Blended courses allow for groups to work in a face-to-face environment, this can somewhat be replicated in the online community through the use of Skype ™, and other social media applications, but is still somewhat limited how beneficial this is for the learner (Simonson et al., 2012).

The project link has several of the same features as the assignment link and also has some additional resource material in the form of PDFs. This information is useful for reference materials and points students in the direction needed to complete their tasks based on solid examples of other student’s success (Simonson et al, 2012). Part of the final project was putting into use what the students learned in the course, by assisting someone else to learn the program/application that they used in the creation of their assignments. Putting to use in a real life situation is one of the best ways to reinforce and use learning (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2013).

The course appears to be planned exceptionally well for a blended learning course. For open course learners, a great amount of knowledge could be obtained by following the course outline, completing the reading materials and assignments. The course has most of the aspects needed for online instruction, because this is now open course, the feedback and interaction with classmates would be minimal, unless you took advantage of the link on the MIT page linking you with others that are interested in the course. You could use this to create your own blog and have synchronous discussions with others going through the course, so you could achieve feedback and interactivity. Looking at the different activities and the examples of other students, students were very actively learning throughout the course and created some interesting technologies for learning.

References

Hill, C. A. (2013). The benefits of flipping your classroom. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/the-benefits-of-flipping-your-classroom/

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

art pallet

stack of booksInteractive Tours – Distance Learning Challenge

Scenario: A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?

From a study of different types of Course Management Systems (CMS), there is no one size fits all when it comes choosing the best system. Use of CMS will be able to mitigate more of the challenges faced by this instructor. From my experience so far, I would recommend CourseSites as a starting CMS for the teacher, if the institution is not currently using a CMS. “Course management systems also typically provide pages for annotated hot links to relevant websites that can be organized by topic” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, p. 185). This functionality would enable to instructor to post the link to the virtual tour within a course and allow students to access this within the classroom or from offsite.

Because the CMS will normally be contain some type of asynchronous communication to allow for group discussions (Simonson et al, 2012). The teacher could then post pictures of the different pieces of art selected from each of the exhibits and assign these to different groups for discussion. CourseSites would make each of these tasks easy for the novice to distance learning technologies fairly easy to accomplish. Using the LMS to post the pictures of the pieces of Art for the students to critique is one of the ways CMS improve student performance. “Visual learning improves student performance in four major ways: critical thinking, retention, comprehension, and organization” (Green, 2008, para. 1). Using the virtual tour and additional photos would enhance the learning experience of the students.

To enable the class to interact with the curator, I would suggest using some type of a live video chat with the curator. This could be done via multiple different programs, or even in a Webinar format. The curator could have prepared materials to present and receive questions, or it can just become a question and answer session with questions submitted either verbally or typed in to the live forum. This could be accomplished for free with the program AnyMeeting. This would allow for the Webinar to be held within the class time. While much of the other learning is done online. This type of blended-learning is successful. A study in 2009 pointed out that online students were performing better than traditional face-to-face students and “blended online and face-to-face instructions increases the advantage” (Baker, 2013, para. 4).

To round out the course, I would suggest a collaborative discussion with each group presenting in a face-to-face setting their critique of each piece of art their group was assigned. This would provide a nice balance between the online content and the face-to-face content.

References

Baker, C. (2013). Blended learning: Teachers plus computers equal success. Deseret News. Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865569876/Blended-learning-teachers-plus-computers-equal-success.html?pg=all

Green, R. (2008). Learning Management Systems Success. Retrieved from http://coggno.com/learning-management-system/learning-management-system-success.html

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Defining Distance Learning

I would say in the past my definition of distance education , was more ‘a method by which required information and resources were made available by an accredited university to gain understanding and knowledge regarding a specific topic; demonstrate understanding of this topic through writing a scholarly paper or successfully passing a test on the topic’. This definition was based mostly on my experience as an undergraduate completing my Bachelor’s degree through an online university.

During my undergrad experience the burden of learning was placed on the learner/student, through reading textbooks and writing papers showing understanding and application of the materials. Many of the courses contained tests and quizzes to test knowledge. The majority of these were multiple choice which “test higher-order learning, including conceptual reasoning” (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2013, p. 281). Course work included, course readings, individual research, weekly discussion question(s), team assignments, individual assignments, quizzes and tests.

Since starting this course (EDUC 6135) and others at Walden my definition of distance learning is now best describe as “an educational process in which a significant proportion of the teaching is conducted by someone removed in space and/or time from the learner” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Svacek, S., 2012, p. 34). The difference to me is the interaction and two-way communication between student-teacher and student-student. The instructors at Walden have made it a learning experience not a self-education process. Feedback in the past was minimal, especially on the tests and quizzes, you were only supplied with the question number you got wrong, and not why your response was wrong.

Based on what I have learned this week I have received both instruction, assessment, and personal feedback through two-way communication with instructors and fellow students creating a learning experience (Simonson et al., 2012). This has changed my definition. I am learning from an instructor who has a vested interest in my success, I have received constructive feedback to improve my skills, and I am applying my knowledge in a practical manner critical to the skills needed for my field. I can now “discriminate between well-designed and poorly-designed e-learning” (Moller, Forshay, & Huett, 2008, p. 71).

I can see if the right methods are undertaken to improve and set standards for e-learning, there are opportunities for new strategies and potential means for further personalization of learning experiences far surpassing what is available in a traditional classroom environment (Moller et al., 2008). I do not believe the traditional classroom will disappear. Rather, e-learning will become inclusive to the traditional classroom, and will continue to gain more acceptance as an alternate and effective method for learning. I hope to see the day where an online degree has equal footing as its brick and mortar counterpart in both the academia and the corporate world.

References

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). Tech Trends, 52(3) 70-75.

Morrison G.R., Ross, S.M., Kalman, H.K., & Kemp, J.E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Simonson, M. Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

 

 Click for Full Size Image of Mindmap

Distance Learning MindMap

Distance Learning MindMap

Image  —  Posted: 01/12/2015 in Assignments