Project Quality Management

Time for another update on my learning project. Last week, I attended the second workshop at the CCE (Centre for Continuing Education). I learned about Quality Management. The word “quality” defined in the dictionary as, “the degree of excellence of something.

 

The essence of quality management is to ensure that a project is efficient and effective and that it meets it’s intended objectives and overall planned performance. At the workshop, we discussed some examples of why a project could fail. Besides not meeting its objectives, a project could fail due to the following reasons ( can you think of other reasons?):

  • If the project scope is not clearly defined
  • The design standards were not followed properly
  • Team miscommunication
  • Unclear rules and responsibilities
  • Not allocating enough time or resources
  • Not monitoring the project progress
  • Lack of team experience and knowledge
  • Having too many cooks in the kitchen. (and the list can keep going)

Quality Management is not only feedback that is collected and analyzed after the completion of a project, but also it is an integral part of project management that starts and continues at every stage of a project. Quality management focuses on excellence by exceeding expectations and keeping the project on track.

Quality management consists of 4 processes (and they all start with the word quality!):

  • Quality definition: In order to define project quality, all project stakeholders should come to an agreement on how they all define “quality” in terms of the overall characteristics of the project, its objectives, and its outcomes
  • Quality assurance: provides confirmation to stakeholders on project efficiency and standards. It is a kind of audit on project progress and its phases that are usually planned at the beginning of a project. A common tool used in quality assurance is the PDCA cycle; Plan – Do – Check – Act, depicted in the graph below
  • Quality control provides early detection to prospective problems or issues in a project phase and is usually completed at the end of every phase
  • Quality improvement helps in eliminating waste and unnecessary project costs by considering current process or system strengths and identifies deficiencies for continued improvement. It

 

File:PDCA ZIRKEL ENGL.png
By FW8100 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A good example discussed at the workshop regarding the importance of quality assurance and quality control is the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger disaster that occurred in 1986 that exploded 73 seconds after its flight. Report analysis completed after the tragedy discovered that it was due to certain flaws (o-rings and launch temperature) that may have been detected but were not addressed properly. The lack of quality control and quality assurance, in this case, caused more losses beyond just monetary costs.

We also identified  4 steps for improving the quality management process as follows:

  • identifying areas that could be improved in the process, and
  • analyzing the issue through further investigations, ‘
  • developing solutions or alternatives that could help solve the issue, and finally
  • testing and implementing the chosen alternative or solution to the problem.

I find quality management a really interesting topic, and the more I learn about it the more detailed all the items and processes get. In my next post, I plan to discuss more items and principles related to quality management.

OEP

This week we had Verena Roberts as a guest speaker. Verena’s presentation about OEP was fascinating and intriguing for me. I chose to talk about OEP because I feel it will be kind of a continued discussed from my last post on OER

According to WikipediaOpen educational practices (OEP) is the use of Open Educational Resources for teaching and learning in order to innovate the learning process (Ehlers 2010). They are represented in teaching techniques that draw upon open technologies and high-quality open educational resources (OER) in order to facilitate collaborative and flexible learning.[1][2] They may involve students participating in online, peer production communities [3] within activities intended to support learning [4] or more broadly, any context where access to educational opportunity through freely available online content and services is the norm.”

I see OEP as a fascinating and an important approach that matches the current trend in education specifically, where all people have open access to voluminous content through  internet tools and social media.   I see more connection and interaction between  participants (learners and facilitators) that would lead to more engagement and sharing of knowledge, resources, and work experiences. ECI 831 is a perfect example of OEP where all the students are connected and are able to share resources openly and engage in fruitful discussions on various topics.

Starting with the benefits of OEP, as mentioned in the 7 Things you should know about… Open Education: Practices, “OEP help faculty develop more agency and autonomy by providing new tools and a broader framework to help them revise, remix, localize, and contextualize pedagogy and curricular re- sources. OEP also give agency to students by giving them more control over the structure, content, and outcomes of their learning and by creating opportunities for them to create learning materials.”

Providing all these capabilities to learners and educators would help achieve many of their objectives.    OEP participants would be able to draw on their professional experiences in discussions, therefore, keeping learners updated on new technologies, processes, techniques, topics, material, etc, in addition to allowing  learners to make more solid connections between theory and the practical world. OEP  also provide participants with networking opportunities with professionals in the field. I believe OEP help change an instructors’ way of thinking about their pedagogy and content. This explained in the following video.

OEP can be fundamental in specific situations. I asked an instructor to provide an example of how OEP can be best applied from his perspective, his answer was:  Let’s take for example developing a new course on “climate change for policy makers.”  Such courses would involve content that spans multiple disciplines such as environmental science, chemistry, engineering, economics and social sciences.   For example, to the transportation sector is known to be a major contributor to pollution. Although transportation is mostly an engineering discipline, it has a direct impact on economy and societal dynamics.   It would be difficult for a single instructor to have enough background in each of these various fields. OEP produced by a community of experts can be enabling in such examples.

However, there are some risks associated with OEP as mentioned in Wikipedia, such as the lack of certainty about its pedagogical value, which could be attributed due to the possible subjectivity of some of the participants. Another concern is related to the overuse of social media and the potential risk of learners using low-quality information sources (as covered in my previous post on OER.) OEP also requires more discussions and engagement from student, the overwhelming majority of whom have very limited time Student personalities may also play a factor, for example, introverted students or students with limited social media knowledge would be at a disadvantage with OEP. Loreli Thibault touched based on a very important risk when she said “Another issue that was voiced in our class group discussion, related to the primary school system, was lack of age-appropriate internet resources, especially for the younger students, such as in grade one. Additionally, teachers are not given adequate prep time to find appropriate resources.

I believe that integrating OEP into the classroom or into the educational system in general doesn’t have to start by completely revamping our way of teaching.   In some examples, OEP is almost a must as it enables covering the content of today’s complex topics (e.g. climate change for policy makers). OEP allows educators to cover multi-disciplinary topics efficiently, but this may have ramifications on students. I believe small starting steps can have a significant impact on our students, educators and open pedagogy. Further steps can be taken as the pros and cons are well understood by learners and educators.

 

 

Communication management update

It is time for another weekly update for my learning project.

Last week I blogged about some of the concepts/knowledge I learned about project communication methods.   I tried all of last week to apply these concepts in choosing the best ways to communicate with project stakeholders ( Instructors).   I used different means of communication based on the instructor’s location.  For example, if the instructor were at home, I would call his phone/ use zoom; while if the instructor was travelling, I would only use email to avoid any time difference issues.  Also, I tried to be more curious and ask as many questions as I can to get the information needed to carry out the task at hand.

This week I recorded the video to explain two parts of the communication management planning process: 1) communication  technology and  2)the output of the communication management planning process. After trial # 35 of recording the video, I decided to give up and let it go even with grammar mistakes or unclear pronunciation of words. I used the iPad pro with apple pencil, which is so handy when trying to annotated while talking. My son created the sketch note I used in the video all by himself with me  giving directions.

 

Below is (kind of) the transcript I used in the video

Of utmost importance are the factors that affect/control Communication technology, these include:

    • The urgency of the information required:  This implies more frequent updates to project team members or stakeholders.
    • The availability of a specific technology for a limited time:  For example, if video conferencing is the chosen method at one point, the project manager has to book it in advance in the scheduled times.
    • Who is supporting the technology tool: Again, in  the  video conferring example, the staff hired to manage this kind of communication tool has to have the experience and knowledge needed to troubleshoot and work with this type of technology
    •  Communication environment of the project is a factor that determines if team members and the project manager should communicate face to face or virtually

The analysis of the above factors dictate methods of communication to be used to transfer information among project stakeholders.  These methods include:

  • Push communication: where information if forwarded/sent to specific stakeholders who need to receive it. (e.g., letters, memos, reports, emails, faxes, voice mails).
  • Pull communication: where stakeholders request/ try to access information on their own (e.g., intranet sites, e-learning module, information systems, or other databases).
  • Interactive communication: where multiple project stakeholders are engaged in a multi-directional exchange of information. This method is the most efficient way to ensure all participants understand the information (e.g., meetings, phone calls, instant messaging, and video conferencing).

The primary output to the project communications planning process is a “communications plan.”  This plan describes how to manage and monitor communications processes. Effective communication helps stakeholders have a better understanding of how the project is performing and whether any issues need to be resolved. With so many methods for communicating, the hard part is really deciding which ones to use.

Resources:

I used the same resources from last time; Lynda.com ,  “Professional Communication” book and a Series of Youtube videos.

 

 

Project Communication planning

This week I tried to focus on Project Management Communication. It is an interesting phase in the project planning life cycle. Projects tend to be full of details, changes, responsibilities, and many other forms of information that need to be exchanged between project team members. 

Sometimes people should really communicate more.  The following graph is a very popular motivational graph for project management communications and team collaboration activities in general. 

Source: The Project Cartoon

I tried my best to simplify the concept as per the advice I got from my group in the breakout room last week. I used SketchPad software to show the main ideas in communication planning, thanks to Daisy for the inspiration. The final product is not as sketchy as I wished but good enough for a first try. I was so happy when my son Yusuf (grade 7) offered to help because he liked the idea and wanted to try the Sketchpad.

I will divide communication planning into 5 main categories; Input, Communication requirements analysis, Communication planning control,  Communication technology and outputs. This week I will cover the input, Communication planning control and Communication requirements analysis. The remaining two items will be covered in next week’s blog. 

Takeaways
  1. Communication planning determines who needs what information and when
  2. Communication plans are designed at the  beginning of the project and is subject to changes  during the project’s different stages 
  3. Communication Planning requires the following:
    • Input information such as  1) project ecosystem factors such as location, time, budget. 2) Project charter document to understand all aspects of the project. 3) Project resources allocations and constraints that can affect the project.
    •  Communication Requirements  Analysis which determines answers to the who, whom, what,  when and how questions. This analysis also identifies methods and tools that will be used to communicate.
    • Communication control mechanisms to monitor and evaluate project communication progress and effectiveness and replan if need be. 
Own work
Challenges
  • My learning project is kind of boring lol. The topic is full of definitions, theories, mathematical processes, and so on.
  • Not enough time to be creative after trying to absorb the concepts to be discussed for each week. What makes things worse is that I don’t have an artistic sense.
Resources 

OER, endless of possibilities

Educators and Instructional Designer are both in a perpetual endeavour to create a successful learning experience for students and to meet their learning needs. One of the best options for them is to use Open Educational Resources (OER). According to oercommens “ …OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” 

ecampusNews

One should consider the following popular 5R framework (Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute) for Open Course Design. These 5Rs are a set of guidelines and best practices for developing courses using open educational resources (OER). Under these guidelines, we can not only reuse OER, but we can also remix work, build upon the work already there to make it more relevant to our own context then share the new version back to the network!  This is where I think the “Everything is a Remix” theory is a major approach in the education life cycle. The video series makes us realize that everything around us is a remix. Check Curtis Bourassa blog, he describes in detail how he conducted a successful remix of content based on another teacher’s work.

OER allows the teacher to focus on students’ needs and requirements as well as the design of the course rather than on the details of the content. When educators decide to use OER, it gives them power and control over how to design their content, which allows them to better connect with the students in the way they can meet the needs of every learner. OERs have become essential in the learning and teaching process, not only in Canada but all over the world, as clearly shown by the OER World Map below. Each dot on the map represents an OER repository.

OER World Map, (CC BY 4.0)

The number of educators accepting OER concepts is increasing continuously. OER help empowers educators to create their own content and does not want to charge others as it will ultimately be a cost for students. Everybody realizes it is better and more effective to learn from each other and share knowledge and get inspired by what others are sharing. Learning and sharing with other experts from all over the world enables educators to customize content, syllabus and activities to make content more engaging. This provides more sustainable resources that incorporate diversity of views and helps educators with creating content according to Universal design learning (UDL) concept and address more and more learners’ needs, including students with disabilities. 

While I was searching Twitter for resources, I was really inspired by many high-quality projects and ideas that made education accessible to everyone. For example, the open library from ecampus Ontario announced a fascinating and interactive “Professional Communication” book published as open-source by ecampus Ontario open library press book. The integration of the H5P technology (Interactive HTML 5 content) with the actual textbook takes OER to the level of open pedagogy.  The technology made this resource look like a complete and interactive course, not only a book to read. 

The use of OER in higher education institutions and online courses will continue to grow. However, this comes with some challenges. On the one hand, from an educator’s perspective, searching for specific open resources that meet the educators’ particular needs is very time-consuming. Also, using OER may pose a problem because educators are unfamiliar with the Attribution, open licensing process, and copyright rules. Sometimes it is easier to just use the textbook with all the added features on its companion website, for example, PowerPoint many presentations, question banks, etc. Also, to the best of my knowledge, there are very few or rare textbooks in a Canadian context. On the other hand, from a student perspective, the Internet isn’t available to students all around the world. And some younger students struggle to identify good quality information sources and don’t know who to seek for help. 

(Creative Commons Infographic from: Technology Enhanced Learning Blog)

 

Project Scheduling

WBS example, My own work

The second day of the Project Management workshop I attended was dedicated to project scheduling. It is an important step under the project planning phase.  To develop a project schedule, we must start with the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which organizes the work required and ensure no tasks are forgotten. In a WBS, we start with the most important project items that must be completed. Project items are broken down into detailed descriptions of cost and duration of completion. This breakdown chart is kind of a visual representation of the scope of the project. The experience and expertise field of a project team may influence the way items are broken down. For example, if a project team is not well versed in the field of IT, they would breakdown items related to software installation into several sub-items. Please find below an example of a WBS we worked on in class. In the example, the project we considered was making a smart toothbrush.  The main items in the WBS would be:

  • Research and development,
  • Product materials,
  • Software development,
  • Manufacturing,
  • Marketing and distribution.

These items are further broken down into product testing  (for item number 1), develop an app (for item number 3) and so forth…,

WBS is a great tool that can encourage the team to brainstorm and collaborate.

Critical path

There are several techniques used in project scheduling, such as network diagrams, PERT, critical path, and Gantt charts. The critical path method helps in determining the items that have no slack time in completion. This helps in focusing the project team’s attention on those items as they would be considered the most critical in the project. In order to identify these items,

Network diagram, my own work

we first need to identify 4 timelines for each activity: the earliest start time, earliest finish time, latest start time, and the latest finish time. Based on these identified timelines, we would be able to determine the critical path network for all the items. The critical path shows us which items do not have slack time or any extra days for completion, and therefore would be considered the most critical items. Some mathematical calculations are required to be able to identify these timelines for the items. I created a video explaining the process and steps of how to draw the network diagram and find the critical path.

Although I felt that learning about scheduling and the critical path method was interesting,  I wonder if project managers use this method in real projects especially that the examples we’ve used to understand the method were all simple examples. In a more complex project, the time to develop such a diagram would be even more lengthy and time-consuming.

I will try to cover the communication plan in my next blog. I found some interesting resources for this topic on Lynda.com. Also, I found another very good resource at the Taylor Institute for Learning Development, thank you very much, Nancy, for the recommendation.

First project Management course

My own Work

I spent two days last week taking the Project Planning and Scheduling class offered by The Career & Professional Development at CCE .  I was interested in this class. Reading the course description made me even more interested.  The course will cover project plan development, project initiation, as well as scope planning, project execution, verification and change control. I felt that it would give me a good skill set that would be very helpful when organizing my projects at work as well as in my personal life. I have to admit that some of the terminologies used in the course were new to me, but I managed to understand the main points and concepts by the second day.

The main takeaways for me were the following:

1- A project life-cycle consists of 6 steps; pre-project phase, project initiation, planning, implementation, close-out, and post-project evaluation/reflection.

My own work using Snagit

2. In the pre-project phase, we need to identify the project scope that can be expressed as the shopping list of things that the project must deliver or the project objectives.

3. I also learned about the project charter, which is a high-level summary of project scope, objectives, desired-end state, constraints, and assumptions. It’s usually important to have pre-approved financial resources dedicated to a project prior to the development of a project charter.

We used an example project, titled ‘A picnic at the beach,’ in class to simplify the concept of a project charter.  The project assumed two friends, “Rania” and “Nataly,”  who decided to go to the beach and have a picnic and a walk, watch the sunset, and make it back home in time to watch their favourite TV show “The Desperate Housewives.”  Both friends agreed to limit spending on that project to less than $100.00.  In such an example, project objectives and tasks will be the following:

My own work using Canva

The constraints of the projects are to drive to the beach, enjoy it and come back home by the time to watch the TV show.  The assumptions are: the weather will be permissible, nothing will hinder having fun at the beach,  the drive to the beach and back home will go smooth with no road accidents/ constructions. A major assumption is that the total cost for the project is less than $100.00.

All steps of the project life-cycle are important, however, I would say the first 3 steps are very critical in any project’s life-cycle because in these steps you would identify the project goals, problems and whether the timeline you planned for the implementation phase is feasible. The more time you give yourself in the first 3 steps the better because you need to ensure that you have covered all the important aspects of your project; the negatives and the positives. In my next post, I will discuss the scheduling aspect of project management. I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of project management. Can you think of any simple examples from your life where you apply some of the concepts of project planning?

 

Snagit

I choose to review Snagit. It is a screen capture and recording tool. One of my colleagues recommended it for me to use when I create instructional documents. In spite of the many features it provides, so far, I use it only to capture the computer screen. I didn’t have a chance to explore all the elements in it. This week’s blog prompt is a good chance for me to discover all its features. 

File:Snagit 2019.1.2.jpg
By Jedduff – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Snagit provides many tools to capture or record your screen. I can capture the whole screen, specific area, and import images from my camera and edit like a pro. 

Examples of tools that Snagit offers include:

  • Different shapes of Callout that allow you to add annotations with text to an image
  • Simplify is one of  Snagit tools that I most like. This tool automatically generates objects to cover background text and graphics
  • Fill, Move, Magic Wand, Blur, ..etc. are some of the many amazing tools in Snagit.
  • Stamps to annotate your image with. It has a number of default or custom made stamps
  • Different shapes and sizes for arrows
  • Annotate an image with text

What I like
  • I can build clear instructions using the many tools it provides.
  • It is good for editing screen captures and, in general, editing images.
  • Snagit enables directly forwarding screenshots by email.  This is a great feature that helps in so many situations, such as technical support.
  • Text capture feature is awesome
  • Snagit includes capabilities for videos and full-screen scrolling.
  • The software is light and small to install on any machine
  • It is versatile. I can take a screenshot of any window in your device and for any object inside a photo.
  • Snagit has lots of options to exporting images in different formats including, JPG, PNG, PDF and more.
What I dislike
  • It is a bit tricky to edit a screen recording video.
  • Expensive
  • The scrolling capture feature didn’t work smoothly for me. The image comes out blurred and unclear.
  • The program glitched when I captured a screen using the scrolling feature. I think because I scrolled down many pages and this was too much for the program to handle.

Unfortunately, Snagit isn’t a free tool. They offer a 15 days trial period to try the full version. One time fee of almost $67 is required for a single license. This will allow you to own the right to use the version forever and to install Snagit on two different machines. They provide a cheaper one-time fee of $40 for an Education license. It isn’t a cheap tool but is very stable and is loaded with helpful features.

Snagit allows me to take a screenshot, annotate it, and send it off to a customer in a few clicks really helps me. It saves me from having to go through the process of having to give an extremely detailed description of what they need to do to change a setting or fix an issue they may be having.

knowledge is becoming obsolete

After watching the four videos from the required reading this week, a question kept popping up in my head. How can a teacher adequately prepare his/her students for the future while “65 percent of children entering school today may end up in jobs that have not yet been invented [according to the World Economic Forum the Future of jobs report], “ as explained by Pavan Arora, at TEDxFoggyBottom. Such preparation for the future becomes even more complex, knowing that currently it’s expected that our “human knowledge doubles every 1 to 2 years.” Do students need to memorize all required knowledge during class (which was the way I was taught)? It is almost impossible nowadays for anyone to store in their memories such a significant amount of knowledge, while there is no limitation to the number of resources that knowledge can be retrieved from. 

Teachers should try to create Innovative learning environments that lead to lifelong learning skills. It is essential to teach our students skills such as problem-solving, innovation, creative thinking, entrepreneurship, foundational skills and collaboration in today’s classrooms. The idea is to teach students the methods and techniques to learn the knowledge required to serve their interests and motivations and to achieve their goals. Teachers need to meet the needs of students by combining different teaching and pedagogy strategies. It is essential to not only teach students how to use contemporary technology but also to teach them how to learn to use futuristic technologies on their own.  

Technological change is making it easier than ever for students to create their own lifelong learning experience. Therefore, we need first to give them access to relevant content sources. Second, teach them how to find, filter, summarize pieces of information and how to apply those to their day to day activities. These features will enable students to have significant control over their learning experience as they will be able to create their own learning environment and vision according to their interests, motivations and emotions.  In trying to answer the question: Does technology change the nature of knowledge? Tony Bates states that “It is equally important also to enable students to develop the ability to know how to find, analyze, organize and apply information/content within their professional and personal activities, to take responsibility for their own learning, and to be flexible and adaptable in developing new knowledge and skills. “Michael Wesch seconds this in his TEDxKC 

By Esan at English Wikibooks – Transferred from en.wikibooks to Commons., Public Domain,

“I do not need to know everything, but when I need to know it, I need to know where to find it.” It has never been easier to access the experts and specialists in any given field. The considerable advancement in technology-enabled us to collaborate and share information. With Web 2.0 / Social Networks, we switched from being only users of technology to be contributors to knowledge. Social & collaborative learning through building our learning network makes engagement central. I experienced this in the ECI 831 class when we all collaborated to create a presentation using google slides.  I enjoyed the process and felt in only 15 minutes the class was able to brainstorm together and create informative slides. 

However, with all of these calls for collaboration and building our own learning network, personal information will remain an issue and concern for both parents and teachers. The main method to minimize this issue is to educate students on how to use social media wisely. Teach them how they can safely build their digital citizenship; this will save them of many problems that they can face in the future. 

Students have to learn to ask themselves many questions when trying to access any Web 2.0/ social media platform. Questions like; who will access their data? How will data be collected? Where will this data be stored? Will their data be shared with another 3rd party? What data should be provided, and what should not? Eventually, they will be able to make the right choices while creating their digital citizenship. Having appropriate policies to control the shared data is another important aspect. Daniel, in his blog, mentioned very good initiatives and mechanisms by the European Union that give anyone the control to erase their online profile. I think it is about time to have similar rules and policies in our country. 

 

Learning project

Coming up with a learning project idea was a bit of a challenge for me. I want to learn many things, and I always don’t have enough time to start. I started by thinking of applying Marie Kondo‘s method to declutter my house. It would be a good idea to commit to such a thing, especially that I have been thinking about it a lot lately. However, I kept thinking about other projects such as learning how to type faster, scrapbooking, develop a mobile app and many other things that I wish to learn.

By DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS Office of Information and Technology – Project Management Guide, Public Domain,

I ended up choosing to learn Project Management. It was one of the top things I would like to learn since the beginning, but I thought it might need more time. Also, I wasn’t sure if I will be able to show my progress in such a project. There is no before and after kind of things to show. 

I am specifically interested in learning project management (PM) as it is one of the top required skills for Instructional Designers to have. According to Bill Brandon’s article, “One of the big challenges in e-Learning management is bridging the gap between instructional design and project management.” PM will help me identify requirements and establish clear and achievable objectives for a project as well as initiate, plan, execute, evaluate project progress. I would like to learn more about the fundamental tools and skills required for effective project management.  Also, I would like to be able to apply a structured process for planning projects as well as tools for carrying out project work effectively.

I don’t think I will have any problems finding online resources on PM. I already saw many videos and books explaining and teaching PM. Besides, Lynda has many courses that cover the topic, and we have free access to it through the Regina Public Library (Amazing, eh!).

I think the difficulty will come from finding resources that tie and connect the worlds of Instructional Design & Project Management. It would be great to find such resources tailored specifically for instructional designers. I will start with Twitter to connect with people from the Instructional Design field and develop my personal learning network. Do you know of any open educational resources that tie both field together?

Furthermore, the Center for Continuing Education at the University of Regina is offering a project management certificate for those who are planning to get their PMP designation. I am planning to take a couple of courses from this certificate to give myself a good jumpstart.

I am looking forward to starting my learning journey! I know that the scope of my project will change over the coming weeks as I dig deep and learn more about this topic.