Tag Archives: Project management

  • 4

Communicating Effectively

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In this post I am analyzing how different modalities of delivering a message can affect the way that message is interpreted.

Text (Email): first I have a message delivered as a text mode using an email as shown in the following picture.

Email

Image taken from Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The Art of Effective Communication [Multimedia File]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

I interpret that Jane (the sender of the message) needs data that is on a report that Mark has. Mark (the receiver of the message) seems to be busy in a meeting the entire day. Jane is worried that she won’t be able to meet her deadline. She is even asking for the data in a separate email as an alternative option to Mark. She is also asking when Mark could be able to provide the data. The email is written in a respectful tone and I can tell a little bit of urgency of the matter.

Audio (Voicemail):

Second, I can listen to message that is now delivered via voicemail. This time, I understood basically the same as the written message but I also picked on the detail that she needs Mark’s report in order to finish hers or that she will not be able to finish her report without the information that Mark has. This information is also available in the email but this time I got a stronger emphasis on this idea. In the audio I also noticed a friendly tone besides of the respectful tone perceived in the email.

Face-to-Face (Video):

This time the message is a face-to-face conversation or at least is Jane delivering the message in a conversation. In this opportunity, I could see Jane smiling which means she is not stressed and she is making her request in a friendly manner.

In the video I can appreciate as well the body language and movement of her hands and head. And this emphasises more the part of the message when she is presenting options to Mark as how he can help her to finish her report. She is specifically moving her hands when she is saying that she needs Mark’s report or alternatively the data that is in that report. So this time is clearer that she is offering options to Mark in order to get the data she needs.

In the video I did not receive any new information about her particular request but I got a better idea of the urgency of the matter, the options she is offering to get the information, and her tone when making the request.

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

By doing this exercise, I realized there are factors from each way used to deliver a message that affect the way the message is understood. For example, in the email or written text, factors such as punctuation and wording influence how a message is perceived. In the voicemail, the voice, tone, and pauses are key elements that affect the message. And in the face-to-face conversation, the body language, movement of hands, head, facial expressions such as smiles, and the tone of voice are factors that influence the message.

Because there are more factors affecting the message in a face-to-face conversation, then there is more information available that is not delivered in the form of words, such as the urgency and importance of the message that can be interpreted by non-verbal communication such as the facial expressions, body language, and tonality (Turaga, 2016) of the people involved in the conversation.

What did you learn that will help you communicate more effectively with others in the future?

This simple but very illustrative exercise has taught me that different ways to communicate a message might be more or less effective depending on the recipients and the content of the message. For example, I personally prefer a face-to-face conversation or phone call followed by an email, minute, or some sort of written document to record the ideas previously discussed because sometimes working in a very diverse group means people with different accents and expressions that sometimes I might not understand, but later on when I read the written records I clarify different aspects of the meeting. So even though with this exercise I found more valuable the face-to-face meeting, I still find very useful to have the written form or records of the conversation as a reference for monitoring and future review.

I have also learned that the best approach to communicate effectively with all the members of a team is to offer different methods to cater for different styles. Some stakeholders of a project might communicate better and then contribute more if they have face-to-face conversations, others with more introvert personalities might prefer emails or written texts, and others might prefer the flexibility of a remote conversation via teleconference, a phone call, or a more private conversation rather than attending meetings with a big group of people.

The important factor is to establish effective communication with all the team members and stakeholders, and for this, a variety of forms of communication will be required. As Zofi (2012) mentioned “the aim is to keep communication lines open and transparent” (p.8).

And finally, I learned from this exercise that it is important to maintain the message clear, concise, avoid ambiguity, and provide relevant information to facilitate the transmission of the message and thus making communication flow easily. In all three forms of communication used in the exercise, I would have added a timeframe and a clear sentence specifying by when exactly the information is required. Adding more details of what is expected from the recipients is a good way to ensure an effective communication.

References:

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The Art of Effective Communication [Multimedia file]. Retrieved from https://class.walden.edu

Turaga, R. (2016). Organizational Models of Effective Communication. IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 10(2), 56-65.

Zofi, Y. (2012). Why Cross-Cultural Communication is Critical to Virtual Teams and How to Overcome the Intercultural Disconnect. People & Strategy, 35(1), 7-8.

 

 

 

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  • 8

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

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My first real practice developing an online course was a mixture of bitter sweet experience for me. On one hand I really enjoyed getting my hands on the field and applying what I have learned so far in instructional design. But on the other hand, I experienced frustration because the product did not get enough management support hence learners did not get motivated to use it.

This online course basically consisted on a short course of three modules explaining the basics of how to use a system that allows learners monitor and control an electrical infrastructure remotely. The online course was developed using Articulate Storyline and had interactivity, contextualised content, real work case scenarios, and assessments drawn from real work situations.

The initial plan was to get the operators of the electrical infrastructure to do the online course followed by a practice on a simulator and in a real setting. At the end operators did not complete the online course and preferred instead a simplified printed version that they could quickly read and re visit when needed. However, on a good outcome was that the practice on the simulator and with a real setting was successfully conducted with each operator.

What contributed to the project’s success or failure?

Some of the elements that impacted the project positively are the following:

  • The authoring tool Articulate Storyline allowed me to create a highly interactive tool without the need of using any other additional software or resources. Additionally, this software let me built a final product that was easy to implement in the organization’s intranet.
  • I was the Subject Matter Expert (SME) as well, so I knew the content and exactly what to include in order to make sure each module would stay relevant, concise, and easy to digest by learners. This was positive too in the sense that as an Instructional Designer I did not have to spend time and chasing SME.
  • Knowing the principles of multimedia learning, I made sure principles such as spatial and temporary contiguity, coherence, signalling, segmenting, personalize, voice, modality, and redundancy were followed (Laureate Education, 2010) in the multimedia elements in order to promote deep learning.

On the other hand, the elements that impacted the project negatively are:

  • There was no communication plan or a meeting to inform management about the online tool. It was developed in solo, because I was the subject matter expert and I identified the need for this training without getting management on board. In this case, being the SME influenced me negatively as I was not focusing on the project as an Instructional Designer. Additionally, during those days my department was going through organisational changes and at that exactly point there was no management to direct the department. All the employees were attending work and doing their roles without a clear direction.
  • Learners were not interested in an online course. They preferred face-to-face training followed by a practice on a simulator. As an ID I should have considered this requirement instead of trying to push a tool that I consider innovative and at the time I thought it would capture learners’ attention.
  • There were no project management practices in place for this task. I simply followed the ADDIE instructional design model with a very poor learners’ analysis to start the project.

Which parts of the PM process, if included, would have made the project more successful? Why?

Starting a project with a “Statement of Work” document would have set the project to start with the right direction. Identifying stakeholders using a RASCI matrix would have been also another important project management tool to get a clear list of the different roles and stakeholders that needed to be included in the project from inception (Laureate Education, n.d), as well as identifying their responsibility in the project.

Additionally, I would include a “Communication Plan” to make sure all stakeholders will be informed of different milestones and key pieces of information that can vary depending on their roles in the project (Lin, 2006).

Finally, I would have to include a complete project management perspective into the project rather than entirely focus on the instructional design part of it. This new perspective would give me the tools to stay organize and have a systematic approach to manage the project to a successful end. Project management practice would include tools such as a Work Breakdown Process (WBP) to partition the project into smaller and specific tasks, a Project Plan to specify tasks, milestones, and timelines; and a better strategy to fully engage all stakeholders as well as making sure learners’ needs will be addressed in the final product.

References:

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Triarchic model of cognitive load: Parts 1 and 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d). Defining the scope of an ID project [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Lin, H. (2006). Instructional project management: An emerging professional practice for design and training programs. Workforce Education Forum, 33(2).

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  • 3

Project Management in Education and Training

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IDvsPM

Having a vast set of skills as an Instructional Designer is not enough to ensure that projects in Education and Training will have a happy ending. And that is why it is important as an Instructional Designer to develop skills in the area of Project Management in order to not only focus ID projects on learners, ID models, and instructional strategies, but also on budget, time, deadlines, people, and resources required to a successful project.

 

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