(Image Credit: Edudemic.com)
The most involved project I have been a part of to date was an iPad 1:1 initiative pilot program at my institution. It’s lifespan began in March of 2012 with the idea to establish the feasibility of a 1:1 to program in our current facility, as well as build a working body of knowledge on the steps involved in running one on a day to day basis. This included, of course, procedures for locating lost/missing/stolen hardware, app distribution and updating, as well OS updating and mobile device management (MDM) through a server. While the initial approval for the project happened in April, it was not until July that meetings with vendors for hardware took place, or until early August that it arrived and disk images were created and deployed. The disk image payload had been discussed and decided on through out the summer between the two pilot program teachers and the project manager (myself). The project was active until the end of the 2012-2013 school year in June, and subsequently ended.
The PM Process
The project management (PM) process was informally applied to the 1:1 project by virtue of a team member being a former general manager at Chevron and full of prior experience and expertise. As a small team with only 4 members, there was little confusion over hierarchy or the work breakdown structure as described by Dr. Stolovitch (n.d.), Portny et al. (2008), Greer (2010), and Murphy (1994). Each member knew their role in the program. I was the technological facilitator but not involved in classroom practices. The teachers in the classroom brought back their issues and concerns to me and we would work together to find solutions or experiment. The other fortunate aspect of the project was that the timeline and budget were fixed, and the scope was unchangeable (i.e. we could not expand the project to other classes due a lack of iPads and available textbooks through a school vendor). The only stakeholders involved that wanted to increase scope were the students/parents wanting the ability to add additional digital textbooks and have the iPad accessible in other classes. This had been anticipated earlier in the planning phase of the project and was routinely communicated whenever this kind of scope creep appeared (Portny et al., 2008). We had also completed some risk planning for the potential damage to iPads, loss, or theft, which did in fact occur. While students were billed for the loss or destruction of “school property”, we had set aside spares for this eventuality.
(Image Credit: the author)
The success in the functioning of the program can definitely be attributed to having had a strong plan in place prior to commencing the project that indicated a chain of command and established enough basic procedures for certain events. Having already thought about risks and responses prior to beginning made it easy to solve problems when they arose with adequate failure prevention (Portny et al., 2008). Not everything had been contemplated, however. When iPads were definitively “lost”, it was unclear who the student should have reported to-me, the technological facilitative manager, or management; more specifically the accounting and operations manager responsible for billing the students’ parents.
Success, Failure, Improvement
The project was successful in operating due to proper planning, in the end. The fixed nature of time, money, scope, and small team, made it easy to operate within the project boundaries. Establishing basic protocols and easily anticipated problems made things run smoothly. In the end, we generated a working program and documented areas for improvement related to infrastructure, mobile device management, better classroom hardware, and the need for ongoing training and support. The absence of significantly negative issues is indicative of a solid planning process and little deviation from that plan. Without this, we would have been playing everything by ear which would have been far too difficult to manage and enact while carrying full teaching loads and other administrative responsibilities during the school year.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d). Project management and instructional design. [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp
Murphy, C. (1994). Utilizing project management techniques in the design of instructional materials. Performance & Instruction, 33(3), 9–11.
Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.
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.