Instructional Design and Technology

Project Management “Post-Mortem”

on November 9, 2012

I was recently involved in a project within the high school that I work.  I was not the project manage, but a team member working on the implementation stage.  The school was and still is working on implementing blended learning environments.  This blended environment was taking place in the Algebra 1 classes and allowed the students to work at their own pace through lessons and assignments.

The project hit a few stumbling blocks along the way and looking back now some of them could have been avoided.  For the next phase (next school year) the implementation has better technology available.  In the initial phase the program was unable to run efficiently and would shut down due to the fact that the school did not have sufficient band width to have so many computers using the network at the same time.  This problem could have been avoided all together if during the initial design and development stage the PM and ID evaluated these requirements.

With the limited access some team members became frustrated and developed negative attitudes towards the project/program.  With the negative attitude coming from authority figures the students then became frustrated and began to refuse to participate.  The problems were identified and made clear to the administration when they came up, but the time and cost to find the solution did not allow for a quick fix.


6 responses to “Project Management “Post-Mortem”

  1. Dawn Vance says:

    Wow, what an interesting concept! I have never heard of a high school attempting this before. It’s too bad that more thought had not been put into the development. Did they try and run a test phase with just a few students? Portny, et. al., (2008) states that one of the common mistakes is “Jumping directly from the conceive phase to the perform phase” (p. 105). I don’t know if that’s what they need, but it sounds like they needed a phased approach and moved too fast on the project. Ref: 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

  2. avoneyw says:

    Hi Gayle,
    Your post identifies a typical example of the lack of proper analysis in the design phase. Had this been done, then it would have been known that the system required a certain amount of bandwidth to be fully functional. In the analysis phase, the instructional designer should have listed the equipment, tools, materials, and resources required to implement the project. I can understand the frustrations that were encountered, and perhaps if the project manager had decided to conduct a beta test before fully implementing the program, then they would have recognized the glitch. The project manager should also have identified the problem earlier and put a hold on the implementation, rather than allow it to continue and have stakeholders loose interest and participation in the whole program. I wish your school better success in the next school year.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Gayle, I see your point in indicating that the unexpected demand on bandwidth had a negative affect on the project’s implementation success. In my involvement with education systems and project planning, especially of a technological nature, the assumption is that the tool (the technology) serves as the solution, without any other necessary contingency planning or comprehension that the tool itself only works if specific factors and needs are met (power, bandwidth, training in how to use the tool). In such a project, I can see where a trial or test run would have possibly helped the school to determine a strain was put on the bandwidth, and then a contingency plan could have been written. Another issue you mention is the failure to allow padding for contingencies — that the budget and timeline did not allow for work to follow anything but a linear progression. This alone I feel is the hardest concept to engender for project launchers, as they often feel that, like they do with the “solution” of technology tools, a good, professional project team or Instructional Designer works effortlessly without experiencing any problems, obstacles or that unforeseen circumstances do not arise, and if they do it is up to the Instructional Design team to mitigate, solve and move ahead with the project. Risk management is a necessity to plan for in any project, and I feel as you did that this project could have done with some foresight and solid risk management planning.

  4. Tom says:

    I work at a middle school and last year a few teachers and admins were pushing to use money from curriculum adoption to place some type of netbook or ipad in every student’s backpack. They came to me for support, as I am highly involved in the tech department and am always pushing for technology integration. As hard as it was(especially because print based text and state standards are a horrible combination) I had to say that we needed to wait, that technology(as Stephanie said above) does not serve as the solution, it’s a tool. Teachers need to be ready and given time to translate curriculum to a digital medium and learn how to use all the tools.
    Even though I can weather through a class with technical difficulties, it is frustrating the amount of class time given up for technical reasons that should have been avoided. I have a team member that is close to retirement and she tries really hard to adapt to new technology, but there are some things that I just have her avoid because it would take two periods just to get her students logged in to access certain software.

  5. That is a very interesting concept. I look forward to hearing more about this concept and project throughout the class as I am following your blogs throughout this class. I like the fact of the algebra class because my first year of college this is how I took my algebra class. I think that by implementing this it introduces the student to a different learning style that they will be exposed to and so that they will not be shocked by it when it happens.

  6. Jen Goble says:

    Gayle, I think this is a great example of a project that went wrong because of insufficient attention given to the planning stages. Because I teach in a virtual school, I’m all for the use of technology in the classroom, and I think the type of blended learning you describe can be very effective. On the other hand, the technology must work seamlessly in order to keep the learners and instructors on board! I’m glad to hear that the problems were addressed in the next phase of the project: I’ve seen projects get scrapped because of this type of complication.

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