Opening Day!

PM City is now open! After more than 8 months of designing and constructing the best project management online learning experience from the ground up, PM City is now open for business!

PMP City with process groups

PM City is the amazing new interactive online course development exclusively for the 6th edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the Project Management Professional PMP certification exam. PM City is a production of The Crowd Training http://www.thecrowdtraining.com/pm6 and is available at crowd.myabsorb.com for only $720 for a lifetime subscription. [Or use the coupon code thisistheyear to get the entire course for $201.80 USD]

PM City is fully online and self paced. The e-learning course fulfills the 35 hour project management requirement for the PMP application from PMI. The Project Management Institute accepts the certificate of completion from The Crowd Training’s PM City course.

PM City can be used as your complete course or as a supplement to your other in person training or self study.

Dev PMP Process Screen Example

Everyone learns differently. As such, not all project management courses should be presented and delivered in all the same ways. This course was envisioned to purposely shake up the project management training industry. The tired method of having PM instructors read over their dull and plain PowerPoint slides is ineffective. Recording someone stand there or sit in front of their webcam talking at you for hours is not much better. Sitting there passively while someone lectures to you for hours is not a pedagogically sound approach to teaching. And in our modern society with the advancements of technology there is no reason to force an approach that is only meaningful to a few onto the masses. That is why The Crowd Training wanted to create something effective for the masses.

Comm Game Example

As you become more engaged and active in your learning, the more it sticks. That stickiness is extremely important as you are taking a high stakes, high cost exam. There is too much on the line to spend time on training that does not match your learning style. No one wants to retake the exam at any cost. You want to pass the first time and obtain that highly valued Project Management Professional distinction. That is what I set out to make for you.

Beginning with my own study and preparation for the PMP Exam over 13 years ago, I observed how almost every training course or book out there was boring and fairly dry. It consisted primarily of someone lecturing to you for hours. In my case in particular, there were no PowerPoints or whiteboards or flipcharts of any kind. It was hours, upon hours, of someone dumping all that he knew about the PMP exam at us. After 9 – 10 hours a day of dumping information on us, there was not much sticking. Actually, I don’t think much was sticking post-lunch.

To overcome the assaulting barrage of project management talk I drew pictures, made sketches, created mind maps, took notes, and otherwise made sense of the drone of words. As a visual learner, I need to see it. A picture is worth a thousand words. And I had to make a few hundred pictures a day to keep up. Those pictures became the cornerstone of my project management training delivery for years. I still have past students to this day saying how my graphics and drawings have stuck with them years after they passed the PMP exam.

Risk with sharks When it came time to finally have the technology to not only present my drawings to PMP learners, but to provide an online manner for learners to engage and control their learning, I was so excited to be able to offer such a product. I dedicated hours and sleep to sketch out my vision of how project management training could be. I wanted it to be accessible and on demand. I wanted online learning not to be a chore or something “they have to get through”. I wanted it to be meaningful and sticky.

After months of laying out all the neighborhoods [a.k.a. knowledge areas and concept blocks of project management] and constructing all their elements, I am proud to announce that PM City is open! It took so much effort to envision new ways of presenting the content, illustrating material, recording audio that was conversational and approachable, animating my drawings and my voice, and bringing the project management content to life. But even more than that, it required the technical capabilities to make the true control and interactivity possible. Every box clicked had to trigger some action or reaction. Voiceovers had to play only when the user wished them to play. Navigation was not to be linear, which requires more code to connect the dots and allow the learner to return to content they wish to repeat as often as they wished without needing to hunt and peek through hours of video footage.

end of process screenshot

PM City is truly an awesome new way to study and prepare for the Project Management Professional certification exam. And the best practices of learning does not stop there! To meld the best online PMP training with the tried and true success of the in person instructor led classroom, The Crowd Training is offering a series of “Power Prep PMP Weekend” classes. These weekend PMP training sessions augment the online learning content. By combining the advantages of both the online training and the off line face-to-face training, you get the best of both worlds. Best of all, you don’t have to take away any time from work. The online learning is done on demand and on your time and choosing. The in person classroom is only one weekend! A condensed, powerful weekend to meet with instructors and fellow PMP candidates to ask questions, take practice mock exams, and extend your learning.

These Power Prep courses are scheduled in select cities throughout the United States in 2018 starting with San Diego the weekend of March 17 – 18, 2018. Here the link to hold your spot AND get full access to the awesome online PMP prep content: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/6th-edition-pmbok-pmp-exam-power-prep-weekend-course-san-diego-tickets-38457688983

It is a winning combination! What are you waiting for? Don’t live in the Southern California area? There are other options in 2018, as well as getting your key to PM City. Become a PMP Citizen and get learning!

LMS Selected. All Systems Go!

As I getting closer to launching my interactive online project management course called PMP City – www.thecrowdtraining.com/pm6 – I have to prepare for users to access the content, track their learning progress, and authorize their certificate of completion for their PMI Application. To do that and a great deal more, I had to select a Learning Management System (LMS). Then I had to modify and prepare it for my learners. This is what I choose and what I am doing to set it up.

LMS screenshot.png

After searching and exploring the literally hundreds of learning management system providers out there, I selected Absorb by Blatant Media out of Canada. I worked with them over 12 years ago and their product has only gotten better.

This system will enable those enrolled in my interactive online PMP certification exam prep course to access the content 24×7. More importantly, it enables my unique interactive presentation of the PMP content to be, well… interactive. There are also randomize quizzes per knowledge area, comment/discussion boards, and resources learners can access.

Beyond enabling users to navigate the project management content at their own pace, they can see their certificate of completion that is valid in case they are audited during the PMI application process to sit for the PMP exam. The PMP City online course fulfills the 35 hours of project management training requirement.

The PMP City online interactive course is only $720 for lifetime access when it launches on February 1, 2018. For those who visit http://www.thecrowdtraining.com prior to that date, you should discover a pre-order discount price.

public dashboard of crowd absorb

http://www.crowd.myabsorb.com is the site to access your online PMP course when it launches in February, as well as access to all the project management games and PMP mock exams.

LavaCon Presentation – There Has Got to Be a Better Way for Project Management Training

Earlier this week I was asked to quickly put together a presentation at the LavaCon conference in Portland, Oregon.

I decided to speak about the need to view things from different perspectives and angles. I provided the examples of experiences with project management training and being a student in a very dry, boring PMP exam prep course about 13 years ago and how I set out to change it. There is no reason that more people out there should have to relive the mundane project management training I endured simply because that is the way it has always been done. So many people I have talked to said that they too sat through PMP prep classes that were boring, mind-numbing experiences. In many cases the instructor simply lectured or read the slides to the participants.

Sadly, the trend in online project management training is to take that same, ineffective method and transfer it to the online delivery.

Lavacon YouTube pic

I argue that video in this approach only makes things worse. If things were meh before, they are even worse now. Without any way to interactive with the content and the instructor and fellow students, all the onus of the learning and retention is placed solely on the student. Too often I hear and read stories of others who were forced to take on numerous modalities of learning – such as in person classes, audiobooks, books, flashcards, and many others – simply to get the PMP content to stick. Since so many had to rely on so many different methods tells me that their first plan of just watching videos in an elearning course to prepare for the PMP exam was insufficient.

There has got to be a better way.png

My goal is to disrupt the current PMP training options. I have a Kickstarter project launch in effort to create and offer something new. The Kickstarter project page is Http://kck.st/2hubLhS

At Http://kck.st/2hubLhS you can pre-order the PMP online interactive training course for only $99. Once the PMP exam prep course is fully launched, the course will retail for $720. Offering is so low at $99 is to thank the early supporters and to help the infrastructure costs that must be taken to make it possible.

Thanks in advance! You can find out more about The Crowd Training and the project management courses and learning opportunities offered at www.thecrowdtraining.com

In this video, I also reference the new book by Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman called “Runaway Species”. More about their book is at their book’s website https://runawayspecies.com/

The video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mkzlfFkabY&feature=youtu.be

My Kickstarter Project for the Interactive Online Course is Live!

 

It is alive!

I launched my side project of building a 6th edition Project Management Professional (PMP) exam prep course. This course is to be different because I am making it interactive, creative, and engaging!

ks screenshot

Learn more on the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thecrowdtraining/interactive-project-management-course?ref=1xc8jj

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thecrowdtraining/interactive-project-management-course/widget/video.html

Thanks for the support! Really appreciate it. Even a $1 goes a looooooooooong way!!

Talking About New Realities

Last Friday I had the honor of speaking at the DET Realities conference in Detroit, MI. The one day gathering was hosted by Grand Circus Co. They sought to gather some of the leaders, thinkers, and innovators in the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality fields in the Detroit and Southwest Michigan area to discuss and share… and of course, network.

20171006_091136

I was invited by the lead organizer, Peter, after he had seen my presentation on the potential of delivering just-in-time training and learning via augmented reality on the manufacturing plant floor at the Realities 360 conference in San Jose this summer. We both felt my talk was fitting for the DET Realities conference. It exemplified what is going on in the training and AR/VR world, but more importantly it was a pronouncement of what Detroit and the industrial factories that make up it backbone is doing and envisioning.

 

presentation at det realities
Neal Rowland presenting on AR in manufacturing at the DET Realities conference 2017

 

The speakers ranged from entertaining to enlightening to mundane to practical. One speaker discussed the legality of augmented reality. A topic I had not given a great deal of thought to. It is a topic definitely worth thinking about. Brian Wassom is a lawyer and had argued cases about the still-being-carved-out legal matters of augmented realities and their creators. He has chronicled some of his work on a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AugmentedLegality/

DETrealities_logo-300x300Another interesting speaker was Steve Dantas from VRARA [ http://www.thevrara.com/detroit ]. Steve spoke about the challenges that companies and executives are facing to leverage VR and AR in their businesses. Nobody at conferences claim to have the answers. It is way too fledgling for anyone to claim that. So his quick presentation, it was thoughtful in the sense of what we need to think about. What are the budgets, market plans, and strategies executives must consider as we venture down these still unpaved paths. The VRARA is an association that gathers liked minded individuals on the topic. I am looking forward to joining and hearing from you and others. Follow the link for more on the association: http://www.thevrara.com

Thanks again to Peter and Stephanie for pulling together a great event. Thanks to the Grand Circus for hosting the event. I am hopeful there will be similar meetups annually and maybe at other Grand Circus venues across the United States.

Animated Cartoons and Augmented Reality – What I am Presenting at the Online Learning Conference This Week

No it is not online.

No it is not being done in virtual reality or augmented reality.

The Online Learning Conference is a conference for those of us who build, design, instruct, and assess learning and training via online tools.

This is my 4th time attending. Third as a presenter. This year, I am presenting twice. First on Augmented Reality in delivering just-in-time training.  Second on using Adobe’s Character Animator to deliver live training and/or recorded self paced training using an animated cartoon!

olc-2017-header-logo.png

The first presentation is tomorrow, Tuesday, 9:30a. The session is being co-presented with a team out of Hungary who is also exploring the power and possibilities of augmented reality (AR) in providing training and learning content. My portion revolves around the content I have presented at the Realities360 conference and the Training Conference earlier this year about the potential use of AR safety glasses to provide just-in-time training and content to manufacturing workers. Much like what was been discussed in the Wired Magazine article regarding the pivot of Google and their Glass wearable. My case study is based on work being done at Plex Systems and some of their manufacturing customers.

My second presentation is on Wednesday. It is a two and half hour session because it is a “hands-on” workshop. Originally, this workshop was to be on building an app. I have facilitated this session about 5 times for the Training Magazine and their conferences. They asked me to run it once more. I relented and said ok, even though I was thinking the topic had reached its saturation point even though the sessions do fill up every time. Then a few weeks back, as I started to review my presentation for any updates, I discovered some massively impactful news – Microsoft was sunsetting the program!

To teach the attendees on how to develop an app during a two to three hour session I use a program called Windows App Studio. The web based program was fairly simple and straightforward means of creating a Windows based app. Granted, Windows apps are far from the most desired apps around. Nonetheless, it still taught someone how an app could be made and kept true to the promise made in the session title: “Have an app ready to publish by the end of this session.”  But with Microsoft discontinuing the program, I had to scramble for another presentation topic and quick!

Win App Studio

I floated a few ideas with the conference organizers. We needed something that would not conflict or duplicate sessions are ready scheduled for the conference. That eliminated my desire to facilitate my really fun Project Management Awareness Fail to Succeed session. I always have so much fun hosting that session. But alas, there was already another project management session on project charters already scheduled.

The new topic also had to be hands on. After all, that is the name of the session blocks. That eliminated any topic that I could essentially just speak about. The topic had to be something the attendees could do AND fill up close to 2.5 hours! That limited things. If I was going to do anything with computers, I had to use a free program or at least one that can be trialed. It had to be cross platform. It had to have a learning curve that was not overwhelming. And of course, it had to be something of use and interest to learning and development professionals.

I offered the tips and tricks of Camtasia – a video editing program widely used by learning and development teams. There was no other session on the tool I also offered. I also suggested the use of Sway to create presentations and online material. Both would be useful for L & D professionals, but I was not exactly sure if I would be able to fill 2-3 hours on the topics.

In the end, we settled on Character Animator from Adobe. This is an animation tool that allows you to use your webcam and microphone to animate an Illustrator or Photoshop image in real time. I would show you a quick demo below of how I have used it, but I have not paid for the full version of Word Press and it denied me the ability to share. I will upload it to YouTube and link or embed it later.

Anyway, the Character Animator is a really cool tool that allows creators to animate without having to be full time cartoonists. For trainers, we can use this when we are presenting and don’t want our own faces to be the on screen visuals. Many of us are delivering online training from homes or offices that do not have expensive setups rigged with the latest green screens and lighting. Instead of dealing with all that hassle and expense, we could have a character do our presenting. Almost like an avatar rather that a human video feed.

 

CA Robot Example@3x.png
A simple example I am having the OLC attendees create and use for live action animating

 

Beyond the live feed presenting, Character Animator also enables us trainers to insert characters that match a motif or brand or mascot into pre-recorded online training content. For instance, if my company The Crowd Training had a client requesting sexual harassment training, we could offer them an online self paced elearning course that featured an instructor or guide that fit the company’s image and/or was purposely nondenominational or fitting any particular category. We could have an on screen presenter that was of no set ethnicity or not even human at all. That would remove the fear of featuring certain situations that might cause unease or inadvertent discrimination. Not to mention, many people prefer to see fun relatable characters over a disconnected human.

Looking forward to running these sessions. Shall post again later this week to let you know how they went. Until then, I am going to enjoy some of New Orleans and the 90 degree heat and humidity! Ok, maybe not so much the latter.

The 6th edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PBMoK 6)

The Project Management Institute (PMI) updates their Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) every few years – give or take. This is a wonderful thing. It would be arrogant to think that every best practice of project management was captured precisely in the first try and thinking that practices and the profession does not change over time. Taking a look at the latest draft of the upcoming edition of the PMBOK, I am thinking that they are on the right track.

Personally, I have experienced the changeover from 3rd to 4th and 4th to the 5th. I was a full time project management instructor, developer, and author during those transitions. I was also one of the contributors to the 4th edition. Not that influences my impressions, but I do declare that move from the 3rd edition to the 4th edition was the most radical and beneficial. This was primarily due to the standardization of naming and structure. The process nomenclature was all over the board in third edition. The fourth edition set out to uniformly establish all processes with a VERB – NOUN structure. For instance Scope Planning became Plan Scope Management. Does not sound to drastic or earth-shattering, but as instructor attempting to get all my students to understand, memorize, and internalize all the vast amounts of content and exact naming, this was a major improvement.

Reading thru the sixth edition, there is not the major structural changes like those just mentioned. Nevertheless, there is obvious recognition of how our industry is maturing and expanding. There appears to be more attention given to all the various industries where our project management skills and methodologies are used and applied. This is most noticeable in terms of agile project management practices. As one certified in PMI’s Agile certification called the PMI-ACP, I welcome the inclusion of agile considerations in with the more traditional methods of project management. Naturally this demands more of project managers and those seeking the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, but it is not out of line to ask for our PMPs to be more well rounded and obtain a broader knowledge base and tool bank in which to lead projects with. I equate everything contained in any edition of the PMBOK and the broader collective of what we expect a certified PMP to know is like a toolbox. A carpenter has his or her own toolbox that enables them to tackle various projects. Every project he or she works on is not going to require the same exact tools or strategies to meet the project’s objectives. Same with project managers. We need to have a toolbox. The more it contains, the more we have available to us. The more we comprehend the tools contained within, the more we are able to make the most appropriate decisions. Project management, like carpentry, requires skills, knowledge, and practice. And like any trade, we should expect the industry, the knowledge bank, and the technologies used to grow and evolve in hand.

So I fully embrace the upcoming changes to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. I am excited to train future and current project managers and PMP seekers on the 6th edition of the PMBOK. The PMBOK 6th edition is expected to be released later this year (2017) in the 3rd or 4th quarter.

Mixed Reality in Training

I recently gave a presentation at the Training Conference 2017 in San Diego on the use of various devices that could be used for learning and development. The objective was to share with fellow educators and other leaders and professionals in the Learning and Development industry some of the soon-to-be realities that we are experimenting with for delivering Just-In-Time (JIT) training to our learners.

Just in Time Training via Safety Glasses.png

There were a few technologies and tools that we are currently experimenting with at Plex Systems (an ERP company based in the Detroit area). I showcased the Microsoft HoloLens and Daqri helmets to illustrate the delivery of training to manufacturing employees. Our thinking is that shop floor employees must wear safety glasses, why not make them more dynamic and useful beyond just eye protection. Ergo, when an employee is standing at a workcenter or on the assembly line attempting to recall their training from weeks back, they do not need to rely completely on their own memories. If already equipped with augmented or mixed reality glasses, they should be able to access training content straightaway. Whether that content be training documentation, training videos, checklists, or a live person, the employee needs that material at the point where he or she must apply it more than weeks prior while they were sitting passively in a training session.

The Microsoft HoloLens and Darqi devices are not the only cutting edge technologies we are exploring. I shall discuss more of those other devices and our strategies behind them in a future blog. For now, I simply wanted to bring up the discussion and get the virtual ball rolling [pun intended!].

As I prepare my next presentation on the topic – which includes the Online Training Conference in New Orleans and PowerPlex 2017 in Atlanta – I am curious to hear what other people are doing or considering doing. Would love to dialog and share thoughts!