Instructional Design and Technology

This blog was created as a class project for my Instructional Design and Technology degree from Walden University. Blogging is an educational tool that can be used to share information with my fellow classmates and vice versa. I hope you find this site both informative and useful.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Analyzing Scope Creep

The project that comes to mind when I think about scope creep is our kitchen-remodeling project.  We had talked about remodeling the kitchen for a couple of years.  The cabinets were from the 1980's when the house was first built and there was an "L" shaped countertop between the kitchen and dining room with a row of overhead cabinets that everyone bumped their heads on.  I wanted to remove this countertop and row of cabinets to give the kitchen a nice "open" feeling that flowed into the dining room space. 

The project kick-off was the water leak in the attic that caved in the ceiling in the kitchen.  Since we had to do the ceiling repairs, we decided it was the perfect time to start the remodeling job.  We removed all the old cabinets, removed the old appliances, and tore out the old floor tiling in anticipation of the new kitchen.  After much planning, measuring, drawing, erasing, redrawing, re-measuring, and more planning, we finally came up with a design that met everyone's expectations.

Now it was off to Home Depot to pick out the new cabinets and appliances.  We started out with a budget of $15,000.00.  Since we were going to do the installation ourselves (my husband is quite the handy man), we figured we would save enough on labor to cover the cost of the new sink and maybe some of the appliances.  I was excited to find a nice set of cabinets that fit perfectly with my taste for quality and they were on sale (how convenient).  However, the cabinets were going to cost about $12,000.00 and we had not even looked at a sink, appliances, flooring, lights, or the cost of repairing the ceiling.  By the time I had finished picking out all the items I wanted in my new kitchen, we were up to almost $25,000.00.  It was at that point that my husband took control of the scope creep.  He told me I needed to rethink my wants and needs.  He said I could have a nice kitchen that was complete and functional or I could have half of my dream kitchen.

Even though we had done a lot of planning and designing, we never actually sat down and separated out the "must haves" from the "nice to haves".  We should have made a checklist that included all the items we would need for the kitchen remodel and then prioritized each item accordingly.  I easily became carried away by seeing all the available materials and appliances and became more focused on how the kitchen would look rather than how it would function.  We should have done a scope analysis and attached a cost and time for each of the remodeling requirements.  Scope creep is an evil thing when you are on a budget.  A familiar project management adage states there is no such thing as scope creep…only scope g-a-l-l-o-p (Collegiate Project Services, n.d.).

Collegiate Project Services.  (n.d.).  Managing scope creep: How to keep your project from being late, costing more, and under delivering.  Retrieved 2/9/2011 from

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

There are many resources available online for estimating costs and time of various projects. Two articles I found extremely helpful for working on the budget portion of my course project are: 

"How Long Does It Take?" by Karl Kapp describes four methods for estimating costs of developing elearning.  Included are analogous estimating, parametric modeling, bottom-up estimating, and using industry standards.  In this article, the author describes the advantages and disadvantages of each method of cost estimation and provides excellent examples of each.  I particularly found the table of standardizations for developing elearning very helpful for my course project.  

On the Big Dog & Little Dog's web site, Don Clark's article on Estimating Costs and Time in Instructional Design gives several valuable guidelines for estimating training costs and development time.  In addition, he addresses instructor time and seat time (the time spent by the learner in the learning environment).  Baseline estimates from which you can begin the process of determining the total number of hours it will take to design, develop, and evaluate one hour of ICW are provided in tables.  To help with estimating training costs, an excel spreadsheet cost estimator template is available for downloading.  Having estimates that have already been calculated and proven can be a big time saver when working on budgets.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Communicating Effectively

The multimedia program "The Art of Effective Communication" communicated the exact same message using three different delivery methods:  email, voicemail, and face-to-face.  Of the three different methods of delivery, I felt the voicemail was probably the most effective.  The voice inflection conveyed both empathy and a sense of urgency on the sender's part.  The sender (Jane) voiced her understanding that the receiver (Mark) has been busy and tied up in meetings, however, Jane needs Mark's report to complete her own work and I thought her tone of voice transmitted this urgency.  The email was rather wordy and I lost interest before I got to the crux of the message.  It is possible that the receiver will glance over the message without really reading it, thus causing further delay of the missing report.  Usually face-to-face communication is the most effective method because of the ability to observe the nonverbal communication cues as well as hear the verbal exchange.  However, in this face-to-face example of delivering the message, I sensed Jane was not comfortable in confronting Mark based on her body language and the tone of voice she was using.  It was like she was trying to minimize the urgency of the situation because she didn't want to upset him.

Communication is a process that involves exchange of information, thoughts, ideas, and emotions involving a sender who encodes and sends the message, which is then carried via the communication channel to the receiver where the receiver decodes the message, processes the information and sends an appropriate reply via the same communication channel (Manohar, 2008).  Communication in the workplace can be difficult due to many reasons.  Problems can occur due to geographical distance, language barriers, lack of interest, power struggles, politics, and cultural differences to name a few. 
There are several common barriers to communication.  One of the most common barriers is assuming that the other person understands what you have communicated.  In order for communication to be effective, one needs to get feedback from the other person regarding what they heard you say.  This way, both parties can ensure they are on the same page.  Another barrier is too much information.  Communication needs to be clear and concise in order to avoid information overload and lost transmission.  Cultural differences can also lead to different perceptions and meanings and cause misunderstandings (Papa, 2010).  Barriers can be minimized however by using diplomacy, listening as opposed to hearing, and paraphrasing and giving feedback . 

Manohar, U. (2008).  Types of communication.  Retrieved 1/20/2011 from

Papa, N. (2010). Barriers to workplace communication.  Retrieved 1/20/2011 from

Stolovich, H. Communicating with Stakeholders. [Online Video].  Laureate Education, Inc.  Retrieved from

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem” Review

Approximately ten years ago, I had the bright idea to start a business.  I was working as an emergency room nurse and I realized there was a genuine need for non-medical home care services such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, minor home repairs, and transportation for medical appointments, especially for the elderly.  My husband and I elicited the help of another couple we were friends with and endeavored to start up this service business we would call Helping Hands: a non-medical home care and transportation service. 
We met several times to discuss the steps required by the state to start such a business and we made list after list of supplies, employee contracts, appropriate state licenses, background checks, insurance, etc.  We decided on the roles everyone would be assigned to which was aligned with each personality and area of expertise.  I would do the training of the personnel, my husband would perform the minor home repairs and provide the transportation, B. would be the business and office manager, and K. would interview and hire the employees, and everyone would recruit business clients.  We drew up a business plan and applied for the business permit and all the licenses. We found a suitable office in which to locate the business.  We were sure we had thought of every aspect needed to ensure success.  Everyone was charged and excited to get started.

After everything fell apart a few months later and we terminated the business, we realized there were several things we had overlooked.  Using the "post mortem" project review questions provided by Michael Greer (2010) in The Project Management Minimalist, it appears that inexperience in business management was our biggest downfall.  That old idiom, "What you don’t know won't hurt you", is just w-r-o-n-g!

The most frustrating part of this project was hiring and keeping dependable employees.  We had several people who interviewed well and seemed genuinely interested in the position, and then would just not show up one day.  It was very demoralizing to think people could just let you down without so much as a "goodbye".  The most gratifying part was being able to assist someone who had no other means of getting their groceries or getting to their doctor's appointment.

Another problem I identified was underestimating the amount of time and capital needed for starting such an endeavor.  B. and I were trying to run the business and continue working our regular full time jobs to supply the capital as opposed to taking out a business loan.  When we started having to fill in for employees who failed to show up, the business started taking its toll on everyone.  When K. called one day to say B. was curled up in a fetal position crying because she couldn't be in a zillion places at once and felt like she was letting everyone down, we decided it wasn't worth the emotional stress on our friendship and shut the business down.

The business was a good concept and the service deliverables would have definitely filled a need.  In hindsight, if we would have had more business experience, capital, and time, I think we could have built a profitable, viable business that fulfilled a social need in the community.   

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.