Milestones or millstones?

Creating learning experiences shouldn’t be about ‘us’ vs ‘them’ – developers vs management – but too often it is. In some ways, it’s not surprising. Contemporary educational development will often use approaches and technology which are well out of the conceptual frame of our (often non-practising) managers. Of course, we do (should?) use our people-management skills to promote understanding, manage dissonance and to convince our minders that what we are doing works, and works well.

Most of us manage the ‘what’ of design and development with relative ease.What is frustrating is that the ‘how’ of eLearning development is being stymied by a corporate addiction to project management methodology. You know the deal – “start here, hit the milestones, stay on budget, finish on time here. Now, your next project is …” 

This rigid and linear progression might work for corporations, but is death for education development. Think boa constrictor …

So are we heading for a destructive disconnect between project-focused managers and the practitioners?  Has education has become so corporatised that business methodologies are being applied to learning development even when they don’t work?

The process of building a learning environment is dynamic and iterative. It happens in simultaneous domains. It is holographic in nature, both in its creation and implementation. The whole activity is more akin to an act of creative design followed by conceptual and practical prototyping. It is never really finished; when we do approach ‘perfection’, it is at best asymptotic.

Above all, educational development is a *process*, not a project. To manage its complex dynamics successfully requires a different form of process management, not the inadequate constraints and guidelines of project management.

I’d love to know what works for you: in your own work – do you get to manage the project, or are you permitted to manage the process?

4 responses to “Milestones or millstones?

  1. I’m not sure what “holographic in nature” means, but your description of “the process of building a learning environment” sounds a lot like the process of “managing a class of adult learners” or, more simply, “learning”.

    Staving off managers with their pre-determined curriculum objectives and lock-step, universal learning programs is a constant part of my adult literacy work. You say, “Creating learning experiences shouldn’t be about ‘us’ vs ‘them’.” I wish it weren’t. But it’s not me calling them into meetings to impose goals and objectives.

    Interesting that you should refer to this as becoming “corporatised”. In my world, these “business methodologies” are being applied by long-time civil servants. I think they’re simply “boss methodologies”.


  2. RaiulBaztepo

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  3. Hello !!! ^_^
    I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that I like your blog very much!
    And want to ask you: what was the reasson for you to start this blog?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Your Piter

  4. The curmudgeon

    Hi Piter – thanks for the kind words. My reasons for this blog are basically to question the things that we tend to take for granted. If we are doing something in education simply because that’s the way it has always been done, I believe that is not good enough as a reason. And if we adopt new technologies just because they are new, that’s not good enough either!

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