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.

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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

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$1,200 Raised! An Update

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thecrowdtraining/interactive-project-management-course/widget/card.html?v=2

A few days into the Kickstarter campaign for the 6th edition interactive online project management course and things are going well. Already 10% has been raised.

I am extremely excited to get this project launched and the end product out into the world. Thanks to all those supporting!

Reddit Conversation

In discussions on Reddit about my kickstarter project page, some had suggested that I look at reducing my costs and using free or reduced cost offerings. I appreciate the suggestions and the ideas. Alas, I have looked into those options and many do not work. As such, my online project management course is going to a more expensive infrastructure to deliver it to those that enroll.

I looked into many options. If I was building the traditional “instructor-talking-at-the-students” type of online training course, then many of the resources out there would work. I don’t want to deliver that form of instruction. Having professors drone on and on in person rarely works well – especially in highly technical content like the Project Management Professional PMP exam – in person; it is even worse online.

Trying to retain the attention of the learner for 35 – 45 minutes at a time while they passively sit staring at their computer screen may not be the most effective and efficient use of their time and exam preparation. The computer is far too distracting. Facebook, Twitter, instant messages, the web, etc. are just too tempting. They are like sirens begging you to sway. These temptations are hard enough in a classroom when there are others around noticing what you are doing. Remove the instructor or any type of peer pressure or authority, you are kidding yourself if you think the learner is not going to give into any of those temptations. Sure there may be a really dedicated student. But I argue those are rare. They are the minority. They are the most successful and for a reason. The vast majority of others are not going to ignore that email or text that comes in. Few are going to stay focused. Most that shift attention to the email or text that comes in are not going to stop the guy or lady talking on the screen. When they return to the lecture, they may be lost, they are going to need time to catch up. They may even be forced to rewind the video. And scrolling and hassling with a video play bar is not efficient and annoying use of one’s learning time.

Hence, I am passionate about making something – even if just incrementally – better. It takes more thought, energy, and resources [read: costs]. In the end I think it will be worth it for the thousands upon thousands of individuals that study for and attempt to pass the PMP exam every year. Please take a look at my Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thecrowdtraining/interactive-project-management-course
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Here is my latest response on the PMP subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/pmp/comments/7acjcr/kickstarter_pmp_interactive_online_course/

I have tried Udemy and it sucks. They take half of your fee. And they give away coupons to lower the value of your work even further without any input of yours. So a PMP class that should be valued at $200 is reduced to $10 by Udemy, then they take half of that! So the person and teams that did all the work only get $5 from a class that is worth far more.
Plus Udemy only has video based lecture courses. I am building something interactive and engaging. The online courses on Udemy are just people talking over their slides or paying actors to read a script (I know because I wrote scripts for some of the other companies out there).
I know that blazing a new trail and trying to bring more dynamic project management online courses to the world is going to cost me more and make my courses cost more, but that is the price of quality and good work. Interactive online courses cannot work with all the options you mentioned – I wish they did, it would save me a lot of money. If I was just going to talk at you thru my video camera for 35 hours straight, then yes I would definitely go with the resources your suggestion. Although, I am aiming to bring out something better and long term. I am building it for 6th edition (I was a contributor to earlier versions of the PMBOK) and plan to support PMP candidates for many years to come.
If you want to see some of the games I made thus far, go to http://www.thecrowdtraining.com/games I’ll give you a 90 day subscription of $10 (like the Udemy pricing you mentioned) if you use code Reddit.
Thank you for the great discussion. I appreciate your input. I am open to more of your thoughts and discussions. It helps make a better product and help more project managers.

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!!

Kickstarter Project Launching Tomorrow!

approved

Kickstarter.com has approved my project submission. After a couple weeks working on the messaging and the layout, I finally thought it was ready for review yesterday around 6p. This morning I received notification that Kickstarter has approved it. All that remains is hitting LAUNCH! So nervous.

Think I am going to wait until tomorrow to hit launch. Tonight is Halloween. A big holiday for myself and my 5 young kids. Don’t want to be distracted by any emails or communications needing my immediate attention. There may be none, but just in case, I would rather be in a position to respond. While trick-or-treating (hopefully not in the snow we had this morning) I don’t want to have to try to type an email on my phone while the kids are anxious to get to the next house to add to their loot.

Launching tomorrow will give me time to think about who to notify about the project and where else I can spread the word. The campaign is for 30 days. Crossing fingers I meet my goal. If not, it will be a good experience. Something to blog about.

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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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.