Using an Evolving Electronic Stylebook as a Touchstone for Online Learning Project Management

Using an Evolving Electronic Stylebook as a Touchstone for Online Learning Project Management

Shalin Hai-Jew (Kansas State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2830-4.ch004
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For complex instructional design projects, having an evolving electronic stylebook offers a critical advantage in terms of organizing the work for quality and shared understandings. A stylebook may serve as a touchstone, a test, or criterion for the quality of a thing, because it is the documentary record for online learning projects. This chapter addresses the main contents of such an electronic stylebook and the criticality for the evolution of this work as the project parameters change.
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Online learning project management, even for a simple project, will involve some complexity. There are a number of “moving parts” in such a project, and to keep track of project expectations and to manage the relevant tasks, requires a clear understanding of the project goals, methods, technologies, roles, and other aspects. For projects that involve multiple team members in various dispersed locations, the work becomes even more complex, with more effort needed for coordination, discussion, decision-making and scheduling. The competitive advantages of using an evolving electronic stylebook (a work document defining the “style” of an online learning project) will become clear as this tool and its usages (in the real world) is described.

One way to frame the usages of an evolving electronic stylebook is to conceptualize it as a hedge against a number of project risks. Persistent generic instructional design project risks include the general risks of not meeting deadlines and not meeting quality standards for the work—based on the requirements of the stakeholders (in particular the grant funders). Or the work may be over-deadline and over-budget. The team members may not have the skill sets or tools needed to actualize the work. Or there may be risks of irrecoverable data loss or unexpected realizations of technological limits or lack of portability. It may be that the learning contents are at risk of technological obsolescence. Or, there may be team and leadership challenges. The classic collaboration challenges aside, there may be further risks—to the actual online learning work.

Risks to an online curriculum could be even more concerning. Some common potential risks include one or a combination of the following. The curriculum may not meet the legal standards of intellectual property. The digital learning objects may not meet federal accessibility guidelines. The curricular contents may be inaccurate. The designed learning may not involve the proper amount of learning for a particular unit (of time or credit or module or some other measure). The pacing may be off for the learning trajectory. The assessments may not evaluate what was taught. Or they may not meet the regulatory requirements for standards for the assessments. The conceptualization of the learners may not be sufficient, and the curriculum may not sufficiently meet their needs. Learners may require lead-in modules (to close the preparedness gap). Or supportive scaffolding may be necessary for the learning. Or it’s possible that the main curriculum may require translation or revision for cultural adaptivity.

All the above challenges may be addressed with various management mitigations. Being aware of risks and liabilities early on may enable one to build correct in the first round and not have to return for revisions or retrofitting. The idea is to maximize the pre-development planning in order to avoid poor decision-making and the resultant loss of expensive developer time.

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