As a project review assignment for my EDUC 6145 course on project management in my masters degree in Instructional Design and Technology, we have been tasked with writing a post following a “Post Mortem” project review on a previous project experience we have been involved in. For this review, I am going to take a look at a project that I have been involved in for 3+ years, and is ongoing in nature. Just over 3 years ago, I made a proposal to the school I presently teach at in Arlington, TX shortly after I was hired there. I proposed that we start a 1 to 1 iPad program in our Pre-K through 12th grade private parochial christian school. The proposal was enthusiastically supported by our school administrators and subsequently accepted by the school board in short order and we were off and running. While there are many elements of this project I could review separately, I would like to evaluate the element of staff development that we produced.
The staff development plan was rather detailed in nature, but at the same time, didn’t have a defined set of requirements for participation by staff. That is to say, there was no “accountability” built into the development plan. The rollout was delivered primarily through staff meetings held twice monthly. There was some initial resistance by some of the staff, however, overall it was well-received. Perhaps the greatest struggle in the delivery was related to the broad and varied backgrounds of technological experience of staff, resulting in a vast difference in their pace of training. For instance, the very first training session I led was shortly after many of the staff had unboxed their iPads for the first time. Some of them had not even set up their iPads for the first time. Others had not only set up their iPads, but had downloaded and signed up for numerous apps and services and were ready to roll! My training plan was focused on introducing numerous key apps, and having the teachers actually sign up for and use those apps in training environment to increase interest and familiarity with the iPads and their abilities to resource their classrooms.
This plan quite apparently hit a wall when teachers showed up and needed intense support on matters such as setting up an Apple ID, signing into an Apple ID they had forgotten the password to, and numerous other trivial issues such as this which largely prevented progress in the initial training sessions. The underlying problem was that I had failed to properly and fully evaluate the audience before designing the training material. While the variety of abilities proved difficult to deal with in the limited face time we had for the training element of the program, I should have better planned and prepared for it. Better designed training plans might have included plans to split the group into smaller subsets by ability, and pre-train selected staff members to lead out in their subset. Additionally, having more frequent individual training sessions should have been incorporated in the initial plan, as selected staff members needed more intervention to get them up to speed than what we offered. These shortcomings certainly created a lack of buy-in from some staff but could have likely been avoided with better planning and time commitments.