EDU 627: Effective Communication and Project Management

With many situations in life, communication is always of the utmost importance. When thinking of and discussing project management, communication is one thing that should always be at the top of the priority list.

Projectmanager.com (2014) states, “As a project manager, it is your role to actively manage the messages emanating from your project team, project deliverables, and the project artifacts that your sponsors, users, and wider audience come in contact with your project” (0:13). One things that is great about project management is that sometimes there are people on the team who are solely responsible for communications. In my case because I am the instructional designer and project manager, I would love if I had someone solely responsible for communications because it would make things a little easier for me and would allow me to better focus on the tasks that I should be responsible for. The video below gives a great overview of what needs to be included in a communications plan:

Bourne (2011) writes, “The purpose of communicating with any stakeholder is to build his or her understanding of a project. But there is a huge gap between looking at a written message and understanding its content” (para 1). In many instances with projects and project management, there are always many stakeholders involved. In relation to my project, one of the biggest communication challenges that I am going to have is with one group of my main stakeholders- the Chief Academic Officer and the Instructional Leadership Director.

Both stakeholders are very busy and are difficult to get in contact with because they are always in and out of their office and if you do contact them, whether it be via phone or email, there is never a guarantee that you will get a response. It can become very frustrating when the other group of stakeholders, the teachers who are on the receiving line of the PD, want answers and you cannot provide them.

In order to overcome this obstacle, a clear communication plan needs to be established that is agreed upon by all parties. If the plan is direct, then there is no room for miscommunication and/or inaccuracies in the process.

References

Bourne, L. (2011, June 23). Project communications: A visual understanding [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.projectmanagement.com/blog/Voices-on-Project-Management/8950/

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EDU 627: The Instructional Designer vs the Project Manager… a 2-for-1 special?

Where do you fall in the project management vs instructional designer showdown? For most of us, we are a product of what I like to call…the most bang for your buck crew…you know, the 2-for-1 special at the store you always choose! You see, we, the 2-for-1 special people, wear many hats as a project manager and instructional designer. Lucky for us, however, there are connections that can be made between both project management and instructional design.

Project management supports instructional design in many ways. One of the first ways that project management supports instructional design is by using project management skills. Williams van Rooij (2010) writes:

Even when the roles of instructional designer and project manager are filled by the same individual, using project management processes enables the project manager to: (1) clearly define the project, develop realistic schedules and manage change; (2) choose those processes, levels of detail and methodology components appropriate to the specific project; (3) operate in an organised and efficient manner; and (4) have more time to devote to the management ‘soft’ skills, such as team building (p. 855).

Furthermore, Williams van Rooij (2010) references Layng (1997) by writing, “Layng sees project management as a tool to help instructional designers develop detailed outlines of instructional materials and learn a method of managing those outlines” (p. 856). This idea by Layng is a key idea connecting project management and instructional design because project management allows the instructional designer to be more organized and focused on the project or task at hand. In the instance that the instructional designer and project manager are the same person, this proves to be extremely beneficial.

Another way that project management and instructional design are similar can be seen through the implementation of a task/needs analysis. A task analysis, or needs analysis, is “a fundamental practice that is embedded within organizational change initiatives, and especially those involving human performance” (Post University, n.d., Slide 3). I compare the task analysis to a pre-test that I would give my students. The task or needs analysis is the step that analyzes the full program or project that has to be developed and is directly linked to instructional design due to its connection to Human Performance Technology (HPT). This crucial step in project management and instructional design can either make or break the entire project. In addition to the task/needs analysis, sequencing is also something that can either make or break the entire project. Sequencing is crucial to a successful project because if the sequencing is wrong and doesn’t make sense, the entire project is not going to make sense and will not be as organized as it should be. In relation to education, teachers need to successfully perform sequencing when planning and implementing their lessons so everything flows and makes sense to the students.

On the other hand, project management and instructional design can also differ. First and foremost, the most evident way that project management and instructional design differ is by the difference that project management includes a focus on not only designing the project or training, but also focuses on the budgeting of the project. I believe that the job of the project manager is more in depth as opposed to the job of an instructional designer.

My final project is a professional development for the middle school Family and Consumer Sciences teachers about how to incorporate technology into their lessons. Two of the primary tasks for this professional development are: research different media that can be incorporate into the FACS classroom and develop age appropriate lessons using technology such as PowToon to enhance and re-design PowerPoint presentations. One of the things that I need to make sure I remember is to keep a solid balance between project manager and instructional designer. The video below definitely is a great reminder of what NOT to do when being a project manager that will help me through building my project.

References

Post University. (n.d.). Managing instruction & technology. [Presentation slides]. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu627/unit3/index.htm

Williams van Rooij, S. (2010). Project management in instructional design: ADDIE is not enough. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41, 852-864.

Self-Esteem

In my 6th Grade classes, our current unit is called, “Discovering Yourself”, where we talk about heredity, characteristics, personality, and most important, self-esteem. Today in my discussion on self-esteem, something just completely clicked for me and brought me to a place I haven’t been in a very long time.

I said to my kids, “You know, you either have a high self-esteem or a low self-esteem. There have been times where my self-esteem has been very low and then there are times where my self-esteem has been and can be very high….maybe even too high. Like now for instance. I AM AWESOME. And I want everybody to know how awesome I am. And guess what?! If they don’t think I’m awesome, that’s too bad for them because they are completely missing out and don’t need to be apart of my life!”

Do not allow the negative words or actions of others take over your being. The second we take ownership of that negativity, we fall into a cycle that becomes difficult to break free from. I admit that I have allowed the hurtful words and actions that have been done to me push me away from activities and others due to my own feelings of inadequacy, but guess what? I was never nor will I ever be a victim. You grow, you stay strong, and you have faith that there is a plan for you greater than you could ever imagine.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Be honest. Be brave. You never know what one kind act or word can do to change somebody’s life.

EDU 627: Project Management…What’s it all about?

Project management? Project management. Just by looking at those two words it seems pretty clear that project management is all about managing projects.

DONE! That’s the blog for the week! 

HA! GOT YA! 

Project management might appear simple to the eye, but to the mind, project management is very complex. Haughey (2011) defines project management in a variety of ways. Haughey (2011) writes, “project management has a definite beginning and end. It is not a continuous process” (para 3). Project management also “uses various tools to measure accomplishments and track project tasks” (para 3). 

I’m sure you’re saying, “Well that all sounds great, but who does all of that? Who is the one that puts it together?” The answer is simple. The project manager. 

The project manager is, “the person assigned to the project by the organization to achieve the project requirements with a standardized approach” (Slide 4, Post University, 2014). Haughey (2011, para 6) lists the role of the project manager as the following:

  • direct, supervise, and control the project
  • define the project, reduce it to a set of manageable tasks, obtain appropriate resources, and build a team to perform the work
  • must set the final goal for the project and motivate his/her team to complete the project on time
  • must inform all stakeholders of progress on a regular basis
  • assess and monitor risks to the project
  • adapt to and manage change

As one can see, the project manager has a lot of responsibilities that they need to manage and in order to fulfill these responsibilities  and it is essential that they are organized and focused on the task at hand. One of the things that can effect the ease of the project is what is called the triple constraint. The triple constraint consists of cost, time, and scope, which effects the overall quality of the project. I find it interesting that when discussing projects, the triple constraint is discussed. In the education world, we always talk about how cost, time and scope are issues related to new things that should be implemented, however, because of those three things there are always constraints in the actual implementation. I know for me, I am definitely going to start using the terminology, “the triple constraint” more often.

As far as my own learning and practice is concerned, I now understand that I have a lot of work ahead of me. I am currently managing  a project that honestly, every time I have to do something for this project I get a bit panicky because I’m a perfectionist to a fault. What I am doing is developing and presenting ALL of the Family and Consumer Sciences professional development for the middle school teachers. We had our first professional development together on the 22nd and it went well. We collaborated and developed a plan that we want to work on for the year but we are now waiting to get it approved by downtown administrators (we don’t have a supervisor). With this project and this course, I am looking forward to learning how I might need to alter my practice to become a stronger project manager/instructional designer. 

For more information about project management, watch this video below that uses information straight from PMI (Project Management Institute)!

References

Haughey, D. (2011). An introduction to project management. Project Smart. Retrieved from http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/introduction-to-project-management.php

Projectmanagervideos. (2014). What is project management? [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztmaTF_Qs9A