Q: What is Blended Learning?
A: Blended learning is a method of teaching that combines elements of online learning and face-to-face instruction. Blended learning course components include reference guides, videos, online materials, combined with live student/teacher discussions, forums, chats and workshops.
Q: Is Blended Learning as effective as in-class instruction?
A: In a 2009 meta-analysis by the U.S. Department of Education, students who took all or part of their instruction online were found to perform better, on average, then those taking the same course through face-to-face instruction. Furthermore, students who took Blended Learning courses, appeared to do better overall. In blending learning environments, the participant is highly engaged in the learning activity. The participant assumes the role of an active respondent from the beginning and continues that mode throughout the course. These courses have defined learning objectives and desired knowledge and skill outcomes which are the focus of the lesson design. Because blended learning is inductive instead of instructive, the emphasis is on learning from a series of progressively complex experiences by taking action, reviewing responses to those actions, and reflecting on the consequences.
Q: Why PMs should take a blended learning course?
A: pmNERDS’ blended learning courses offer a different approach to curriculum without the restraints of a “normal in-classroom school course.” It allows for flexibility in learning after the normal work day that requires interpersonal and online interactions.
Accelerates expertise in a safe and controlled environment with real-life on the job examples that appear infrequently or are complex; and provides less risk to the participant while gaining that expertise.
Offers an ROI to the participant because they’re able to do their job better & quicker. It also offers an ROI to the organization through performance gains in the workplace.
Participants learn more because of the relevance; they can both physically and mentally engage in Integrated PM experiences. Course teaching methods align with the personality characteristics of successful Integrated PM practitioners.
Provides better information transfer potential because the new knowledge acquired is contextualized and indexed in the participant’s brain in a manner more likely to be retrieved when needed while doing a task or job.
Improves critical thinking skills to enable workers to adapt their experience to new situations. Facts, concepts, a rule of thumb and rationale that an experienced practitioner would consider when responding to a situation, are learned through process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching.
Uses technology to facilitate learning through web technology capabilities that provide increased access to experts, interaction with peers, and team building opportunities.
Q: What personalities traits are more successful using blended learning course?
A: Blended learning courses requires a great deal of initiative by the student, the student needs be self-motivated and able to operate with autonomy. But, at the Center of Excellence, Teachers are available to students when needed. Participants in blended learning courses are most successful when they possess these eight attributes (below). The same can be said about participants of Integrated PM, those successful with Integrated PM are striving to obtain the following personal attributes:
Interpersonal Skills Blended learning exercises the participant’s interpersonal skills and provides challenges that cause growth. Participants use interpersonal skills to succeed in forums, chats, workshops, webinars, and conferencing with instructors and other participants. The ability to be critical, and say no when required, without being offensive, is a personal attribute of people successful in Integrated PM.
Compliance Blended learning develops the participant’s capability of maintaining strategic alignment and policy compliance. Participants practice designing workflows compliant with specific instructions and requirements. Understanding the minimum requirements for governance and management of projects is a personal attribute of people successful in Integrated PM.
Conflict Resolution Blended learning develops the participant’s skill for interpreting project data to diagnose and resolve conflicts. This is accomplished by experiencing real-life conflicts in project requirement and constraint analysis; not to mention conflicts between peer opinions, literature accessed outside of the course, and web discussions. Managing and resolving project conflicts is a personal attribute of people successful in Integrated PM.
Decision Analysis Blended learning provides experience in workflow change analysis. Participants practice analyzing data and making decisions to achieve their project and course objectives. Conducting research, analysis, and providing decision rational is a personal attribute of people successful in Integrated PM.
Tradeoffs Blended learning strengthens the participant’s confidence in making tradeoffs. They constantly compare new information against existing knowledge. They focus on accessing factual information, analyzing situations, and weighing tradeoffs among budgets, schedule, and resources. Making decision tradeoffs is a personal attribute of people successful in Integrated PM.
Operational Decisions Blending learning provides experience in making operational decisions and taking actions. Making operational decisions depends heavily on understanding policies and best-practices. Participants practice making actionable decisions, with real-life situations and pressures, in the context of their own Integrated PM environments. Quickly taking action on projects is a personal attribute of people successful in Integrated PM.
Design Blending learning provides an environment for designing multiple effective solutions. Participants will practice making alternative designs that reflect multiple factors, such as feedback from instructors, peers, and experts. They will be in an environment of high social presence with instructor-led virtual sessions, group chats, and forums. Creating and selecting designs from multiple factors, and working with others to create a viable design, is a personal attribute of people successful in Integrated PM.
Team Coordination Blended learning allows participants to practice communicating and coordinating problem solutions among project team members. Participants experience the use of best-practices for problem definition and resolution. Coordinating the activities of team members, clients and stakeholders is a personal attribute of people successful in Integrated PM.
Q: I've never taken a Blended Learning course before. How will I know what to do?
A: pmNERDS’ Center of Excellence Courses includes instruction on how to navigate the course software to prepare you for being a Blended Learning student. There is also a ‘Message My Teacher’ Block and “Help Desk’ to help you with course material questions and software technical support.
Q: Who are the Teachers in the Blended Learning Courses?
A: We have many domain experts with a wide variety of PM experience. The Blended Learning courses utilizes these experts in the various Integrated PM courses. Our Teachers and course designers are qualified and experienced PM Domain experts, with a focus on your success.
Q: What equipment do I need for the online portion of a Blended Learning course?
A: You must have access to a computer, access to Internet service, and be a member of the pmNERDS Center of Excellence.
Q: How do I know how I’m doing in the Course?
A: Each course includes a ‘My progress” block. ‘My Progress’ shows your progress on activities within the course, it is color coded so you can quickly see what is completed or viewed, and is ordered by times/deadlines or the course order.
Q: What are the benefits of online and blended learning?
A: PMs overwhelmingly have reported positive experiences, citing the following reasons:
PMs have greater time flexibility, freedom, and convenience by working part of the time or all of the time online from home due to decreased commuting and parking hassles.
PMs often develop or enhance skills in time management, critical thinking, and problem solving.
PMs have more time to reflect and refer to relevant course and other research materials when working and writing online than when responding in class.
PMs typically have 24/7 access to online course materials.
PMs usually receive more feedback, and more frequent feedback, from their instructors.
PMs who may feel shy in a large classroom often enjoy the online environment. It seems there is less concern about asking questions in an online environment where in a classroom, some students may not ask a question in front of the entire group.
PMs are likely to interact more with the instructor and fellow students since there are numerous opportunities to do so both in class and online.
Q: What are some tips for success with blended learning courses?
A: Time Management: Check the discussion on a regular basis. You should plan to login to your course Web site several times a week, not just once or twice. It's recommended that you schedule your time in advance each week to login and do course work for at least 2-3 hours. This will help keep you from falling behind.
Assignments: Make sure that you read and reread your assignment - print it out for safety's sake - to ensure that you have completed all aspects of the assignment. It's very easy to overlook something in an online assignment.
Communicating: If you are posting to a discussion forum, read any earlier postings first to find out if you are on track, and to find out what others have said. It's not cheating to learn from others' insights! If you are responding to someone else's posting, make sure that you hit the "Reply" button so that the response will be linked by discussion thread to the original posting. Also, make sure that the "Subject" header of your posting is the same as the actual content of your response. If it isn't, the discussion may have wandered off topic or your response may be inappropriate.
Use good "Netiquette": It's typically a good idea to address the person you're responding to by name, just as if you were speaking to them face-to-face. It's also a good idea to sign your posting. This will make your online discussion more personal, and remind you to be polite! It's ok to disagree with someone, as long as you give good reasons for doing so. Remember that people are perfectly entitled to debate both sides of a course idea or topic, and that reasoned argument is an important part of a university education. Your response should never ever attack someone personally. You can disagree with someone, and they with you, while remaining respectful. Use care when interacting online, since you can’t gauge a person's reaction or feelings as you do in a face-to-face conversation. Humor should always be used very carefully and where needed, labeled as such.
Backups: When you post, it's always safer to write your posting first using your local word processor, and save it as a separate file to your local computer. That way you can never lose your work if you are posting directly to the course Web site and your connection fails for some reason.
Writing Style: When you post online, you should always use relatively short paragraphs, each one two or three sentences only. This will make your writing much easier to read. No SHOUTING! Capitalize words only to highlight a point or for titles.
Citations & Formats: Identify your sources if you use quotes, references, or resources. Your work must always be distinctively your own writing, unless you have indicated otherwise.