IMCOM Service Culture – Beyond the Classroom

Learning Never Ends

Detecting and Preventing Plagiarism


The term plagiarism can make or break your work/academic career.  You do not want to ever have the tag plagiarism attached to your name as it forever puts the stigma on anything associated with you.  Plagiarism is when you either accidentally or purposefully copy someone else’s work and put your name on it.  This is a serious offense especially in college (Hedgepath, 2015).  Technology has given exacerbated plagiarism as it gives us access to innumerable files on any subject (Pappas, 2015).

There are a number of tools that can be used to detect plagiarism but successful detection and execution of policies will increase the compliance with “academic integrity standards” (Jocoy and DiBiase, 2006).  Below are some tools that can be used to detect plagiarism:

Checker Pros Cons Paid Version?
DupliChecker It’s free, easy to use, many options for checking the content If not registered user can only do 1 search/day Not available
CopyLeaks Entire website scan, finds duplication in more than 60 trillion pages on Internet, supports multiple file formats regardless of language Only for content online, have to create an account to use Not available

Soon Premium Subscription will be added

PaperRater Offers grammar checker, plagiarism detector, and writing suggestions; maintained by linguistics pros; provides readability stats and validates titles Cannot save plagiarism reports Yes – Accepts longer documents; processes faster; no ads; can upload documents
Plagiarisma Free download for Windows; supports more than 190 languages; searches websites from a URL For exact matches only; cannot scan more than 3 documents/day Unlimited checker with task scheduler with paid version
PlagiarismChecker Free; easy; detailed instructions; great for educators; allows authors to check if work has been plagiarized; does not require download Searches phrases separately – have to hit “Enter” at the end of every phrase Not available
Plagium Easy to use; scans as many as 5,000 words each time; good for quick search on web Limited free features; Anywhere from $0.004 to $0.08 for every 1,000 characters
PlagScan Continuous progress updates; does not require download Limited scan (1,000); complicated interface Different plans available
PlagTracker Quick to scan 20 million + academic works; clear instructions on use; provides a report with details Not 100% accurate Yes – checks larger database; grammar check
Quetext Free; easy to use; unlimited usage without an account or download Can only copy and paste text Not available
Viper Free; scans more than 10 billion resources; offers side-by-side comparisons; scans against works on your computer Requires download; available for Microsoft Windows only Not available

(Pappas, 2015).

Pappas (2014) points out there are many advantages to using plagiarism checkers such as:

  • Ability to search multiple databases – can identify cases of plagiarism and take appropriate action
  • Plagiarism software is an irreplaceable education aid – can use it as a teaching opportunity to show proper citation of references
  • Provides learners a chance to get more from experience – have to obtain and synthesize information to complete assignments and helps learners develop morals and ethics.
  • Deters plagiarizing – learners are less likely to even try to copy another’s work if they know plagiarism software is being used
  • Make sure course content is not plagiarized – run course content through plagiarism software before implementation in order to maintain credibility.

There are additional steps that can be taken to deter plagiarism.  By establishing these as well as utilizing plagiarism detecting programs, you can minimize instances of plagiarism in the distance learning environment.  Additional steps include but are not limited to:

  • Establishing a clear and detailed plagiarism policy and ensure learners know you use a plagiarism checker.
  • Identify the consequences of plagiarism early on so they will really think before copying as well as teaching them how to correctly cite works.
  • Determine when to use plagiarism checking programs by knowing your learners and identifying when language used is not indicative of their normal pattern.


Yet another way to deter plagiarism is by using assessments (Caberra, 2013).  You can:

  • Choose your assessment methods – choose the appropriate assessment method for the different levels of student learning.
  • Ask objective and subjective questions – more difficult to share answers
  • Utilize question pools – questions will be randomized to discourage cheating
  • Randomize the test questions selected as well as the order
  • Limit feedback on test to include number of correct answers so that learners will adequately prepare
  • Provide a time limit for exams so that learners cannot rely solely on books/notes
  • Show questions one at a time as learners could take a screen shot to share with others

In the end, plagiarism checkers as well as properly designed and timed assessments assist in creating deeper learning due to the fact that learners will understand how important it is to use their own words and prepare for exams.  In the end, everyone wins.


Caberra, D.  (March 4, 2013).  Tips to Reduce the Impact of Cheating in Online Assessment.  Northern Illinois University Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.  Retrieved from

Hedgepath, O.  (July 22, 2015).  How to Teach About Plagiarism In The Online Classroom.  eLearning Industry – ELEARNING BEST PRACTICES.  Retrieved from

Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.

Pappas, C. (June 1, 2014).  Free Plagiarism Checkers:  A Valuable Tool for eLearning Facilitators.  eLearning Industry – FREE EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY ONLINE PLAGIARISM CHECKERS.  Retrieved from

Pappas, C. (October 2015).  Top 10 Free Plagiarism Detection Tools.  eLearning Industry – FREE EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY ONLINE PLAGIARISM CHECKERS.  Retrieved from





Technology and Multimedia Impact


Technology has become prevalent with its many uses and the inclusion of technology in learning has become a feasible and inexpensive option.  Approximately ¾ of Americans, believe that an investment in innovation and technology sciences in education is going to be the key to long-term success (Harris Interactive, 2009).   Advances in the Internet and in multimedia is causing new approaches being developed to designing and developing instruction and learning in higher learning.  It is allowing for:

  • New markets will be reached due to an increase in access and flexibility to learning.
  • Utilization of multimedia technologies to develop psychomotor and intellectual abilities to include problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Ability to hone knowledge management and collaboration and to design multicultural courses that are global.

Learning will now be united with work and daily life.  It will have to be organized in a way that fits the needs of individuals as learners will be seeking education/training from schools/organizations around the world.  Learners are going to need an opportunity to interact with instructors and other learners regardless of location.  Learners need to be able to pull from their knowledge and experiences and be able to fit what is learned with their own life so it should instruction should be more learner-focused.  Multimedia can actually present knowledge in many more ways than text or speech.  It combines text, sound, visual, illustration, and other elements like simulations and video which provides learners and instructor with learning resources that can stimulate learning.  Using multiple forms of media allows for the arrangement of knowledge in a wide variety of ways which allows learners to construct knowledge that is richer than an abstract understanding from lecture (Bates, 2000).  Technology tools used will need to be carefully selected to facilitate learning.  Bates (2000) goes on to state that “virtual laboratories, computer simulations, and expert systems” require more from the learner as higher levels of interaction such as analyzing, solving problems, making decisions and evaluating learning yet there still needs to be human interaction as well as interaction with technology.  This can still be accomplished through technology.

Palloff and Pratt maintain that attention needs to be paid to connection as some connections, especially in rural areas, can be very slow or nonexistent at all which can impact effectively utilizing technology.  They also recommend using technology only when it supports learning objectives (Laureate Education, 2000).  Barr (2012) acknowledges that learners are more familiar with computers and other technologies occurring in their daily life but that it does not mean they will accept technology in their learning environment.  The trend shows that learners use what is most familiar.  As a result, he recommends that when using technology in design to be cognizant of learners’ comfort zones.  If too much technology is introduced, then learners could decide not to engage as they are overwhelmed.  Barr recommends introducing technology to facilitate learning initially and then gradually increase in complexity.  Having worked with online learning in the College of Installation Management, being ADA compliant is also critical when looking at usability and accessibility.

Palloff and Pratt identified many technology tools which I find useful and would implement in my online teaching as well as others that I have found.  They are:

  • Wikis – collaborative web page
  • Blogs – website that allows users to post and peers to leave comments about content
  • Video sharing websites – store personal videos online that can be viewed and commented on
  • Zaption – allows YouTube videos to be stopped with questions inserted to draw attention to certain parts of the video
  • PowToons – create visually entertaining, animated cartoon slides that can be exported into PowerPoint or YouTube.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words – technology enables instructors to present more content in smaller chunks that meet the needs of the learners no matter location or time.  It puts learning at everyone’s fingertips.


Barr, D.  (March 2, 2012).  Embedding technology in translation teaching: evaluative considerations for courseware integration.  Computer Assisted Language Learning.  Retrieved from

Bates, T. (September/October 2000).  Impact of Multimedia Technologies.  Educause Review.  Retrieved from

Harris Interactive Inc. (2009). Consumers’ high hopes for a high tech future. The Harris Poll. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). ( 2010 ). Enhancing the online experience [Video file]. Retrieved from

In the Beginning

Everyone knows that the start is the most important part in anything – get off to a bad start in a race – lose the race, have a slow start in a movie/TV show – risk losing interest of viewers, dull start to a book – lose readers.  The same is true for an online course.  If you are missing just one of the four key themes for course beginnings as outlined by Boettcher and Conrad (2010), you run the risk of losing your learners.  The four themes are:

  1. Presence
  2. Community
  3. Patience
  4. Clear Expectations

The easiest way to describe presence is to be there.  According to Boettcher (2011) research has linked presence closely to student satisfaction and that the course is effective.  There are three types of presence identified by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000):

  • Social – basically becoming “real” by injecting personal characteristics in a getting acquainted postTeaching
  • Teaching – consists of both the course material prepared and shaping the knowledge formulation through monitoring posts, asking questions, and mentoring learners.
  • Cognitive – comment and make observations regarding learners’ goals and identify how they may be similar/different to other learners’ goals.

The second theme is community where we focus on building the “sense of shared understanding, knowledge of one another, and mutual support” even if there are differing values (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).  Erickson and Neset (2014) state this can be done through weekly announcements where the instructor can include supplementary instruction, provide feedback, establish applicability, and even add humor – valuable components in creating a connected classroom.

Patience is something everyone can use more of but it is especially true in the online learning environment.  Designing and facilitating curriculum online is very different than in the traditional classroom setting.  It is important to remember that it takes time to develop effective skills just as it will take time for your learners to develop skills for learning online as, often, they have to become more active and be more responsible for their learning (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).

The last area that needs to be considered is providing clear expectations.  Ensuring that learners know exactly what is expected of them ensures they understand what they need to do and increases satisfaction in the online environment (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).  Boettcher (2011) advises including the expectations for communication between learners online and with you.  If learners send emails to you as the instructor they want to know how quickly to expect a response.  They also want clear expectations as to how much time and effort will be required weekly to be prepared.

Another factor that plays a key role in ensuring minimal frustration for learners is understanding the technology being used.  If it is your first curriculum design in the online environment it is best to keep it simple (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).  If you have not mastered the technology tools you will not be able to assist your learners.

Another consideration for both online and traditional face-to-face (F2F) courses that I am discovering after attending training on the Experiential Learning Model (ELM) is to consider copyright issues when using videos, articles, etc.

Overall, careful consideration should be paid to carefully planning the design and preparing for the launch of your first online course.  Follow a checklist to ensure you do not forget anything and ensure you are clear in your communications to your learners.

Boettcher, J. (May 2011).   Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online Quick Guide for New Online faculty.  Retrieved from

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Erickson, A. and Neset, C. (September 8, 2014).  Building Community and Creating Relevance in the Online Classroom.  Faculty Focus.  Retrieved from


Establishing an Online Learning Experience

Some people think that in order to create an online curriculum, all you have to do is take your curriculum and slides and put it Online.  Orlando (2014) reflects on building his first Online course transcribing his lectures into text.  Somehow the students got through it but it made him realize that the online course is basically visual and should be built on videos, interactive activities, exploration, etc.  His advice is not to model the Online classroom environment as you would a face-to-face (F2F) environment.  Design for the web which means you have to account for different systems.  It is easy to forget that and not take into account that different web pages will look/run differently on different browsers and even different computer devices (laptop vs. tablet, Apple vs. HP, etc.).  It is important to consult with instructional designers and information technology department to ensure everything will work the same on different systems.  It is a good rule of thumb to do this prior to beginning your design on the content so that you do not waste any time.  Another key factor is to remember that individuals have different preferences when learning so it is important to consider this in your design as well as ensure that everything is ADA compliant – provide transcripts for videos, provide voice over for text, etc.  The benefits of being in an Online environment allows incorporation of intermixing activities with content so that learned material can be applied immediately thus taking it from our short-term memory to our long-term memory with systems like VoiceThread, Articulate Storyline, etc.  Pappas (2015) maintains that to offer unforgettable Online training requires content being delivered in the most interesting way possible.  He recommends stimulating learners’ interest and engage them by adding games, multimedia, and various other interactive activities.  The more engaging it is, the easier it is for your learners to remember.  It also has to be easily accessed so they can participate in it.  Utilizing mobile learning allows your learners to access the training at anytime from anywhere.  Andrew (2012) recommends creating meaningful learning by using scenarios and case studies from real-life situations.  Learners want a challenge – make them think.  Give them a scenario that requires them to explore the course to learn how to handle the situation when faces with it in real-life.  Using games can be an effective way to learn by having them play a game such as Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, etc. to teach the content rather than just telling them.

Jeopardy Board         Millionaire Game

If you think about a traditional classroom course, you must remember how most of the first day was spent going over what the course was about, expectations, requirements, etc.  As Orlando (2014) states, Online classrooms do not have the time that F2F classrooms do, so the syllabus has to be more detailed than what you would see if you were in a traditional classroom environment, especially for procedural issues.  You can also assist in averting problems while also saving time answering questions if you have a discussion forum for those frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the class and curriculum requirements.  Boettcher and Conrad (2010) assert that clear and definitive guidelines regarding what is expected of learners and the instructor greatly increase the understanding and enjoyment in Online courses.  Unfortunately, the Online environment, when you consider time zones, technology, tools, etc., already have many possible opportunities for misunderstandings.  Providing as much detail and clarifying potential issues as well as how things work can help learners trust in the process and create a favorable learning environment.

Palloff and Pratt (Laureate Education, 2010) also mention how important building the online community is and establishing the instructor presence in those initial first couple of weeks Online.  Orlando (2014) also recommends to not reinvent the wheel – if you find a site that teaches/describes a concept better than you can, send your learners to it.  Consistency is also important as we are all keyed into pattern-recognition which means we actually search out patterns to assist in guiding us so Orlando (2014) recommends creating a template for the course to follow.  Changes can cause learners to miss content.  Another key element he mentions is to remember workload when creating an Online course.  Some instructors feel that more information needs to be provided when conducting an Online course especially with all the resources available on the web.  Just remember, if you assign too much content, learners will only read some, skim others, and skip some altogether.  What you think is important may greatly differ from what they feel is important.  When selecting your format, ensure you establish an acceptable workload range and keep to it.

There are also some other basic criteria to consider:

  1. Smaller chunks of content make learning easier
  2. Do not use gratuitous images – keep them meaningful
  3. Be consistent with fonts, colors, sizes, layouts, etc.
  4. Certify learning through tests and evaluations (Andrew, 2012)
  5. Emotions intensify recall – use emotionally-driven design (Pappas, 2015)

Online courses require a lot of thought and preparation so make sure to allow plenty of time for the development and testing prior to launching to ensure success.


Andrew, B.  (February 8, 2012).  10 Online Training Do’s and Don’ts.  eLearning brothers.  Retrieved from

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Launching the Online Learning Experience [Video file]. Retrieved from

Orlando, J. (March 3, 2014).  Top 10 Rules for Developing Your First Online Course.  Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications.  Retrieved from

Pappas, C.  (May 25, 2015).  How To Create Memorable Online Training Courses:  6 Tips for eLearning Professionals.  eLearning Industry: eLearning Design and Development.  Retrieved from

Learning Communities Benefit All

Palloff and Pratt (Laureate Education, 2010) pointed out the importance of learning communities in this week’s video.  Learning communities help pull students together in a community to include students and faculty who explore content together to create meaning and understanding about that content.  Online learning communities impact student learning and satisfaction with online courses.  The more a learner participates, the more his/her sense of presence grows.  The power of the learning community comes from learner-to-learner engagement.  The facilitator plays a critical role in creating the learning community as they are engaging learners on an equal level.  Studies have shown a direct correlation between student attrition and not feeling their instructors’ presence online.

Learner satisfaction increases when there is a learning community as does their perception of learning and feeling like they are a part of something bigger according to this week’s video (Laureate Education, 2010).  In order to set up a learning community, it is critical that the facilitator be familiar with the technology being utilized and that be involved in the entire process.  When setting up a Learning Community there are a number of things you must do, according to Palloff and Pratt (Laureate Education, 2010) there are a number of things that must happen:

  • Make the online learning course easy to navigate
  • The facilitator must ensure the classroom is a warm, welcoming, environment which can pose a problem when planting. It is rather cold/formal where they want to be at.
  • The facilitator must visit the website regularly during the first two weeks.
  • Invite every learner to post a biography
  • Welcome students to post a biography
  • Create an icebreaker to get to know one another.

This visual demonstrates it best.

Learning Communities pic

It is everyone’s responsibility to create a successful learning community.  It is critical to find a sense of belonging in the online environment.  The instructor is a vital component of that learning community.  Forming learning communities actually decrease any feelings of isolation as they feel a part of something larger.

The benefits of learning communities are clear as long as it is set up properly and the rules of engagement are spelled out clearly and concisely in the beginning of the class.


Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from

Promoting Collaboration Online

One way of promoting collaboration in an online course is by creating teams for an assigned task.  This is especially useful when you have a large class.  By breaking them into small groups, the discussions/assignments are more manageable for all involved.  Some examples of small-group work are:

  • Small group discussions
  • Completion of a group assignment
  • Working together in small-group activities and simulations


Begin by reviewing the following information related to promoting collaboration in an online environment:

Online Group Work – Tips & Tools to Make it Work

Book Excerpt: Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
(Palloff, R., & Pratt, K., Promoting Collaborative Learning, Building Online Communities). Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used with permission from John Wiley & Sons Inc. via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Chapter 8, “Promoting Collaborative Learning”


Based on the information in the Resources, identify 3-5 guidelines to forming a collaborative community for a project.

By Wednesday:

Post your thoughts on important guidelines that need to be established in forming an online collaboration space for small-groups.  Identify 3-5 guidelines you feel to be “best practices” in establishing a safe, collaborative environment.  Be sure to cite information from the Resources to support your thinking.

By Sunday:

Read a selection of your peers’ postings.  While reading, make note of those you would like to respond to with questions, comments, challenging viewpoints, and advice.

Respond to two of more of your peers’ postings building on something they said, challenging their viewpoint explaining why, probing further with questions, asking for clarification, validate and idea with a personal experience, support of an opinion, ask for further support of their reasoning, or to further expand on their posting.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting, reflecting on what you learned and insight gained.




Don’t Creep on My Scope!

The first time I experienced scope creep on a project was in my current job when we developed our first Manager’s Workshop.  Tiger Teams were given a topic along with interviews from garrison best practices on the topic and research on industry standards along with Terminal Learning Objectives.  Each team was to design a 50-55-minute course on the topic assigned.  This would have been fine except that each course upon initial development was sent out to the field for review by our peers.  There were 24 of us at the time.  When you get 24 individuals providing input as well as supervisors, it can be a recipe for disaster.  The result was multiple people having great ideas of things to add in an already crammed course.  Those designing the curriculum did the best we could but when there are “too many cooks in the kitchen” it is difficult to decide what to use and what not to use.  The result was only 8 of the 11 modules were ever fully developed and presented and when you added an icebreaker and report on survey that drove the report, the result was cramming 9 modules into 8 hours of training.  The modules provided excellent information but little time was given for participants to relate it to their job and internalize the material.  There still continues to be issues with this even though our staffing numbers have dwindled.  Things are getting better but there is still so much good information out there it is easy to think more information is better than not enough.  For example, the last Manager’s Workshop had two topics and was two hours per topic but just in one of the modules one short segment was based off principles in in a book and get the managers to understand it.  All the information suggested is relevant and valuable but where the mark is missed is trying to put too much information into too short of a time with little time for them to assimilate it and internalize how this could work in their facility.  This makes it difficult for them to fully understand the importance of implementing what was discussed.

After having this course, I am going to attempt to put some of the lessons learned into play into future curriculum design.  The first thing I would do as a project manager is to put a scope of project into writing.  “Topics” are provided based on needs assessments and research is collected on garrison best practices and industry standards for those companies that have a history of taking care of their employees – sometimes there are timelines and other times, deadlines are not as strict.  Writing this curriculum is an additional duty to our normal responsibilities which involve traveling regularly.  As Stolovitch stated in the video on defining the scope (n.d.), scoping the work is critical to the project’s success.  Instead of trying to pack too much information in, once the scope is set, Stolovitch recommends in the video on project management concerns (n.d.) to let anyone who suggest adding material know that their idea is valuable but might be best presented in a follow-up workshop.  To ensure they feel their opinion is valued you could ask the person to develop the idea once the project is done so if any organizations are requesting additional training on the topic it would be already be developed.  

Communication will be critical to the success of the project in minimizing scope creep.  As stated in Project Management-Planning, scheduling and controlling projects, scope creep is inevitable but it can be monitored and controlled to reduce the impact.  The first thing would be to ensure there is a change control system in place so that all proposed additions/changes be put in writing, impact on other project tasks be identified, identify how these impacts will change the schedule, project performance and cost, evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of proposed change, have a process for appropriate approving authority to accept or reject proposed change and communicate approved changes for implementation (Portney, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton & Kramer, 2008).  

Ewer recommends the following five steps for preventing scope creep (n.d.):

  • Understand the Outcome – the emphasis must continuously be on desired outcome with regards to business goals
  • Be Critical of Client’s Ideas – have to collaborate with the client to develop a plan that will be successful
  • Clearly Define the Scope of Work – need to ensure that the Scope of Work is clearly worded and that the client knows what is in the agreement.
  • Price Right – important to break the price down to the smallest elements and make sure everything is accounted for prior to assigning necessary resources to each task outlined.
  • Get It in Writing – you do not want just a signature – you want your client’s understanding. Make sure you get the details of project delivery in writing.


If I was a project manager for developing curriculum I would not have to worry about the price as designing and developing the curriculum is as additional duty for us as Service Culture Educators but the other steps could be very beneficial in narrowing the focus and developing an effective training curriculum in which staff would have adequate time to process the material and determine how they could use it in their facility/ or even if it could be used in their facility.


Ewer, T. (n.d.). 5 Steps to Preventing Scope Creep (and Still Keeping Your Clients Happy). Bidsketch. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Defining the scope of an ID project [Video file]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Project management concerns: ‘Scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from

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.




Costs? Time? Resources? How Should I Know?

Project Management

Estimating the costs, effort, and/or activity intervals related to Instructional Design projects are a critical aspect of project management.  Luckily there are numerous resources that are out there available to assist you.  Below are just a few that are easy to use.

Smartsheet is basically online project management, productivity, and team collaboration software.  It works much like an Excel spreadsheet, but with extra functionality to include cloud access for sharing documents/attachments, integrating with online file storage services, and Gantt charts.  Smartsheet merges functions found in Microsoft Excel, Project, Access, and Sharepoint into one single application.  There is no specific market that Smartsheet was designed for so it has customers across various industries, businesses, and company size (, n.d.).  Smartsheet is used for tracking and managing a wide range of work to include team projects and task lists, customer information, event schedules, and business processes.  Customers are able to access their account online or with an application.  It is also integrated with Box, Dropbox, and Zapier.  Check it out for yourself at

Another very helpful software program is Wrike.  It is collaborative software specifically designed to manage workflow for companies of all sizes and track projects.  Based on which level you choose – Free, Professional, and Enterprise – determines the software’s offerings.  Anything from create tasks, assign, tasks, and attach files is available on the Free site.  The Professional version provides not only those offering from the Free version but also access to Gantt charts, time-tracking, drag-and-drop interface, and more.  The Enterprise version does all that the Free and Professional version do with the added ability to assign users into work groups.  Smartphone capability is another bonus of Wrike.  All versions provide activity stream updates on any activity performed by others in the work groups.  There is also a constantly updated list of resources on various topics dealing with projects.  So you can basically work with anyone, anywhere, anytime.  In today’s global workforce, this is extremely beneficial.  This video shows you just a bit of Wrike’s capabilities –

In a blog post on Big Dog & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition (n.d.), stats from Chapman of Brandon-Hall provides a list of average times to design one-hour of training.  Please note that the below are just average so a program could take between 1-500 hours.  It all depends on the individual’s design skills and knowledge of the subject, how much material need to be converted, and what type of transformation is needed.

Instructor-Led Training (ILT) 34:1 Including design, lesson plans, handouts, PowerPoint slides, etc.
PowerPoint to E-learning Conversion 33:1
Standard elearning 220:1 Including presentation, audio, some videos, test questions, and 20% interactivity
3rd party courseware 345:1 Time it takes for online learning creators to design, create, test, and package.
Simulation 750:1 Creating highly interactive content from scratch.

Qlean $tart Labor Burden Calculator   Calculator provides helpful information on understanding and being able to compute the full and true cost of employee labor in addition to determining exact amounts that should be used to estimate, and charge for labor-related services.  Qlean $tart Labor Burden Calculator utilized Quick Books to automatically post “fully-burdened” cost of jobs which help determine their true labor costs.  Often we leave out what employers pay for benefited employees but that is a part of the overall budget when you are pulling employees to assist on the project.

With all the helpful info that is out there, the hardest part will be deciding which software, forms, etc. to use.


Big Dog & Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition (n.d.).  Estimating Costs and Time in Instructional Design.  Retrieved from

Gilson, D. (n.d.).  Labor Burden & Profits – Employees Real Cost and How Much You Should Charge.  Retrieved from (n.d.).  Retrieved from

Smartsheet video (n.d.).  Retrieved from

Wrike Resources (n.d.).  Retrieved from

Wrike video (n.d.).  Retrieved from








What Did You Say? Why Communication Is Important on Projects

George Bernard Shaw said “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. So many times we think that we are getting our point across only to find that the person we are speaking to has completely missed the point or misunderstood what was said. One of the biggest inhibitors to communication is that everyone has a different communication style based on their past experiences and we communicate to others in the style in which we like to be communicated. The University of the Pacific (n.d.) identifies the following as the main styles that can cause misinformation, confusion, and hurt feelings:




Discussion is straight forward almost like an outline. There is little use of context and more emphasis put on words. Just state the facts. Discussion is circular, using stories to develop the context of the main point which often times is not stated as listeners will get the point. More emphasis put on context.




Meaning is communicated with direct statements to each other with little attention paid to context such as the timing. Meaning is expressed by suggesting, implying, nonverbal cues, etc. Allows a person to avoid confrontation.




Feelings and emotion are used when discussing issues expressing the personal stake in the issue. Calmness and objectivity suggesting the ability to look at all the facts objectively.

Intellectual Engagement


Relational Engagement

Disagreement stated directly with the understanding that only the idea is being judged – not the relationship. Issues with relationships are handled directly while intellectual issues are handled subtly.




Driven more through examples like stories, metaphors, examples, etc. emphasizing the specific instead of the general. Driven more by theory with principles, data, etc. emphasizing the general rather than the specific.

With all this going on, is there any wonder why there is ineffective communication and misinformation within organizations, teams, and relationships? Then when you through in the generational differences, there can really be misunderstandings and confusion.

As Troy Achong stated in this week’s video, communication is an art – especially communicating in such a way to engage all stakeholders, team members, etc. involved on a project as everyone has a hidden agenda as to what they would like to see the project accomplish (Laureate Productions, n.d.).

As with most things, the key to a successful project management is effective communication (Portney, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008).  This week in the review of The Art of Effective Communication retrieved from in which the same message was conveyed in three different ways – email, voicemail, and face-to-face.

Email – without inflection and nonverbal cues this message loses its sense of urgency. If indeed, Mark has been in meetings all day, then why would Jane think he would see her email and respond immediately? Depending on Mark’s position he may get anywhere from 20-200 emails a day asking questions, requesting information, needing a response and hers is just one of them. Many Millennials prefer texting/email to conversations when looking at generational differences.

Voicemail – while the inflection in the voice displays a little more urgency, once again, if he has been in meetings all day, what is the likelihood that he is checking his voicemail. How many voicemail messages has he missed?

Face-to-face – for this circumstance, the face-to-face conveyed the most urgency in that Jane is standing there so she is not one of a hundred emails or just a voice on the machine. It is hard to ignore a living, breathing, human being standing in front of you. Many of the baby boomers generation prefer this type of communication to ensure that they are getting their message across.

My past experiences definitely came into play as well as my personal preferences in communication in interpreting the three different modes of communication. As Stolovitch stated in this week’s video (Laureate Education, n.d.), effective communication is influenced by:

  • Spirit and attitude
  • Tonality and body language
  • Timing
  • The personality of the recipient

These factors influence the way we perceive every message and in cases where there is a sense of urgency such as in this example, it cannot be adequately conveyed in an email or voicemail. In this case, I feel the best method is the face-to-face but as our textbook states, always follow up informal communication such as a face-to-face conversation with an email of the key topics (Portney, et al, 2008).

As Stolovitch stated in the video (Laureate Education, n.d.), it is important to establish standards of communication with the client to include how frequent, the form, determine a response time frame, language, format and rules of participation. This is so true especially when working with groups that are geographically dispersed that are working on a project together such as my experiences working on curriculum with my peers. Communication with your project team is vital as an article in PM Times for Project Managers (Foong, 2014) reports that 1 in 5 projects are not successful due to ineffective communication.

Have you been on a project that failed or started off poorly do to ineffective communication? Remember that frustration and confusion and take steps to ensure it does not happen on a project in which you are the project manager.

Foong, M. Y. (April 9, 2014). Effective Communication: A Challenge to Project Managers. PM Times for Project Managers. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Strategies for working with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from

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.

University of the Pacific (n.d.). 1.6.3 Communication Styles. Retrieved from

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