December 6, 2012

Week 6 Blog Assignment: Scope Creek in a Website Design Project

Week 6 Blog Assignment
Scope Creep in a Website Design Project
by James Landon

I recently approached our district Director of Curriculum and Instruction to suggest improvements to the “Curriculum” section of our district website.  Standards and online resources needed to be re-organized, updated, and presented in a way that easily accessible for our teachers. She asked me to lead the project to re-design the site and I graciously accepted.

As I began the project and began analyzing all the material, I found mountains of information, some updated, some outdated, and some holes that needed material. Scope creep began here and suddenly exploded. In addition to simply updating and re-organizing the district standards by subject area, the project included the addition of Common Core standards and guidelines for teachers as well as instructional resources in every subject area. It was here that we found a massive amount of material and the organizational structure of the site was beginning to get out of control. Unfortunately, I readily admit, I was the main motivator and I actually pushed to increase the scope beyond what we had originally planned.  I kept coming up with new ways to organize the material and every time we added a new section or area of the site, we needed to update the areas we had already finished to keep the format and organizational structure consistent across the site.

Looking back, I realize there were several reasons that scope creep was a problem in this project. First, we did not define the scope at the beginning of the project, in the SOW, for example. Portny et al. (2008) and Stolovitch (n.d.a) all explain that scope should be thoroughly defined as part of the SOW at the beginning of the analysis of the project. By determining the scope and putting it in writing, we would have had a barrier to block the scope creep when it manifested itself.

Next, I was driven by the determination to include everything in this project.  Stolovitch (n.d.b) urges project managers to “avoid the desire to be perfect.”  For me, every new resource meant additions on almost every page. Again, looking back, I should have followed Stolovitch’s (n.d.a) recommendations to prioritize tasks and be disciplined about the scope.

When it was clear the project was not going to be done quickly, the project team met and took two major steps to stop the scope creep and successfully complete the project. First, we set a firm completion date. This was another step we neglected to do at the beginning of the project. It was simply something we would complete soon, but no firm completion date. By setting a firm deadline for completion, our timeline fell into place. Next, we added more people to the team. Two new people were assigned to help transfer files, complete formatting and meet with SME’s to be sure all the content was accurate, updated, and appropriate. These steps allowed us to focus on the original objectives of the project and complete it quickly and successfully. Every time we considered new material or a resource that had the potential of creating scope creep, we quickly looked at the timeline and determined they would just have to wait.

The project is complete and the results are extremely positive. Sure, there are a number of things I would add and even more I would change to improve the site. However, the original objectives of the project were met and the project was successful because we finally set a timeline, defined the scope, and focused our work to get the job done.


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.

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.a). Project kickoff (week 1 resources). [Video]. Laureate.

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.b). Monitoring projects (week 6 resources). [Video]. Laureate.

November 29, 2012

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

Week 5 Blog Assignment
Instructional Design: Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources
by James Landon

The three websites below are good resources for estimating and allocating resources for instructional design projects. They provide detailed information on the best ways to estimate time and cost for designing and developing these projects.

Designing Training Activities – How Long Does it Take to Design and Develop a Training Activity
By Robin Henry

Many ID’s estimate costs based on the time it takes for project team members to complete various tasks for the ID project. This article describes the challenges and solutions ID’s can count on to navigate through this process. Henry (2005) describes the need to consider structural variables as well as variables related to the ID or design team. Some other basics Henry suggests is to consider other projects that are similar and create estimates from that.

Time to Develop One Hour of Training
By Kapp & Defelice

Along the same lines, this resource provides specific suggested hours required for various types of training. The data is based on surveys collected in 2003 and then again in 2009 and gives some good estimates.

Estimating Costs and Time in Instructional Design
By Clark, D.R.

This site seems to be the most recommended in almost every blog or ID message board I came across. This page has a huge amount of specific and detailed information related to estimating training costs, development hours, eLearning development time, and development times to create one hour of e-learning in various e-learning styles.

- James Landon


Clark, D. R. (2004). Estimating costs and time in instructional design. Retrieved from the Big Dog & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition website:

Henry, R. (2005, May). Designing training activities: How long does it take to design and develop a training activity. Retrieved from the Training and Development World website:

Kapp, K.M. & Defelice, R. A. (2009, August 31). Time to develop one hour of training. Retrieved from the ASTD website:

November 15, 2012

Week 3 - Interpretations of Message: Email, Voice Mail, and Face-to-Face

Interpretations of Message: Email, Voice Mail, and Face-to-Face
by James Landon 

After viewing the given message in all three modalities (email, voice mail, and face-to-face), I developed different interpretations of the meaning of the message.  I noticed the biggest change in meaning between the email and the voice mail messages. There were still some clear differences between voice mail and face-to-face as well.

I felt the email message was formal, polite, and to the point… at first. Then, as I re-read it, I felt some of the statements could be rude or possibly sarcastic. For example, Jane writes in the email, “I know you have been busy and possibly in that all day meeting today, but I really need an ETA on the missing report.” At first glance, I feel that’s genuine and the writer is empathizing with Mark. However, as I re-read it, I realize it could be interpreted as sarcastic or almost accusing Mark of not giving Jane the attention to her project that she feels it deserves.  Also, if Mark did not have a meeting that day, Mark might think Jane knew that and put that line in to antagonize him.  The rest of the message seems sincere and ends with a kind and polite closing: “I really appreciate your help.”

The voice mail provides a calm vocal tone and a subtle softness that eliminates any hint of sarcasm or tension that may have been present in the email. In addition, the voice closing on the voice mail adds an extra level of genuine feeling and I felt that Jane really meant it more than she did in the email. Still, the voice can say one thing while the body language says another (Stolovitch, n.d.). I am still aware that even if the voice sounds sincere, without seeing the face to be sure there were no “eye rolls” or “smirks”, I can’t be 100% sure my interpretation is accurate.

Finally, the face-to-face message gave me the confidence that I was correct in my interpretation. I confirmed my feeling that Jane is relaxed, understanding, and simply checking in with Mark in an informal, friendly communication to find out the status of the report. The clues to how she is feeling about Mark and his report are visible. It is clear that any negative interpretations on my part from the email or voice mail were inaccurate now that I am able to view body language, tone, spirit, and attitude (Stolovitch, n.d.).

This activity shows that communication with members of a project team is open to a variety of interpretations depending on the modality used. Kato & Akahori (2004) confirmed this with a study that looked at email versus face-to-face interpretations. They explain that utilizing face-to-face communication alone or before and/or after email communication is much more effective and results in a more positive emotional communication than email alone. In addition, email or voice mail communication does not allow for correction or reaction in real time (Whipple, 2011). “We modify the words, cadence, tone, and our own body language moment by moment based on the feedback we can see” (Whipple, 2011, p .1). For example, in the face-to-face situation, Jane would be able to see Mark’s facial expressions as he responds to her and she could then adjust what she says based on that feedback. This is extremely important in communication and is lost in email and even voice mail.

Project managers should not rely only on email communication, but instead default to face-to-face or live telephone conversation whenever possible to eliminate any negative interpretation. Email or other written communication should be limited to formal communication and sharing of information rather than for emotional issues, problems, or other situations that could be misinterpreted.

- James

Kato, Y. & Akahori, K. (2004). E-mail communication versus face-to-face communication: Perception of personality and emotional state. In L. Cantoni & C. McLoughlin (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2004 (pp. 4160-4167). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
Retrieved from

Whipple, B. (2011). One letter can make a huge difference. Retrieved from the Leadergrow Incorporated website:

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders. [Video]. Laureate.

November 8, 2012

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

Week 2 Blog Post: Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”
by James Landon

A few summers ago, I co-coordinated a summer performing arts camp with a friend of mine, PJ, an orchestra teacher in the same district where I teach general music. The camp was designed for performing arts students in grades 6-12 in band, orchestra, choir, or drama and lasted 3 weeks in the summer. This project began in November the year before and involved recruitment, marketing, hiring teachers, selecting and securing facilities, instruments and materials, and basically administrating the program from start to finish. Also, our supervisor for this project was in a school district department that oversees all after-school clubs, recreation, child care, summer school, facility rentals, and community outreach and education programs. This created an overlap of roles and duties between the co-coordinators and the supervisors at the community education department.

Overall, this project was a huge success. The final performance showcasing all the performing arts groups was fantastic and the parents of campers were impressed and looking forward to next year. However, the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of the camp included some sources of issues and mismanagement. These issues included communication, role identification, and clear documentation of implementation procedures. Though the program from the perspective of students and parents was a success, there are many steps the team members (co-coordinators, community education department supervisors, instructors, and site staff members) could have taken to eliminate many of these issues.

First, communication methods and expectations were not established early on.  Communication between coordinators and community education were limited. Some teachers hired by the coordinators did not respond to repeated emails or calls. The local facility staff did not have contact information or reliable times for communication. Lastly, the inner-facility communication system was inadequate. All these issues piled up to make the sharing of information and reporting of problems even more difficult than it should have been. As coordinators or project managers, PJ and I should have created a document that clearly provided contact information and availability expectations and then distributed this document to all members of the team and all departments involved in the project. This would have provided smooth connection between all members of the team, allowing problems to be resolved quickly and effectively.

Second, implementation procedures were not clearly defined. This summer camp program had run the year before, but there were many problems and several changes needed to be implemented. However, there were a number of basic procedures that we had not anticipated or had not planned for. We should have established a clear plan in writing for all necessary procedures such as instrument rentals, elective registration, recruitment and marketing, and transportation issues. Unfortunately, we were making these things up as we went rather than sitting down with all members of the team to brainstorm possible issues that would come up from these topics. This would provide a clear map for these anticipated problems and tasks and when it came time to act, we would have a plan in place.

Finally, the main problem we had in our project was the establishment of the roles of all team members involved. This issue really ties into problems with communication and implementation as well. From the beginning, as issues surfaced, we were never able to determine exactly who was in charge of what. Emails flew from one person, forwarded to another, forwarded to another and then back without problems really being resolved. Meetings only involved some of the team members and staff that was necessary to make the project really work was not included. There are many ways to establish the roles of team members and these could have a huge impact on this project. Portny et al. (2008) describes a number of strategies including confirming team members’ participation, developing project plans, drawing up work-order agreements, and creating work breakdown structures.  These documents provide important information that establishes roles and clear tasks and duties required of each team member. Greer (2010) also suggests a responsibility/accountability matrix. These provide a way to “capture all of your team’s agreements about who will do what on your project team” (Greer, 2010, p. 11).

It takes more time up front for the project manager to create these documents at the beginning, but the reward at the time of project implementation is well worth the time and resources spent in the planning stages.


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.

November 1, 2012

Week 1 Blog Post - Introduction

Welcome to my blog for EDUC 6145, Project Management in Education and Training. I'm looking forward to a great class!