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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Project Planning & Management Techniques

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 3.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 29, 2013 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: This material is a tutorial combined with a quiz. It is an online training club which professionals (or those who wish to become professional in a given area), subscribe to. Additionally, corporate training areas could purchase a blanket or site license in order to train employees. It is composed of free areas and subscription areas. As its website states “ The Mind Tools Club is our members-only area, where you can get help, ideas and training to develop your career, and deal with challenges in the workplace”. The discipline of Project Management is just one of the disciplines which a learner could avail themselves.This site has many different management topics, one of which is project planning and management techniques. The project planning and management techniques section/button offers a general overview of the different aspects in project planning and management. This is handled through multiple levels of drop-down menus for students can obtain general definitions, descriptions, and get an overall idea of the different components that must work together for successful planning and management.
Learning Goals: None are given outside of a general approach on the website. This would need to be specifically addressed for whatever course this information may be used. It might be useful as a component to introduce the subject but specific learning goals, outcomes and even how this fits into the program (in addition to the course) may need to be added to optimize learning.
Target Student Population: The notes indicate this is intended for "college general education" but this would not be appropriate unless there was of course that included an introductory area for project management. Although it is good information for anybody to know and especially those who wish to acquaint themselves with the terminology and the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), this is not likely to be appealing to a student unless they have a specific use for it such as a class requirement. This is appropriate for undergraduate students or anyone who does not have much knowledge in the area, but to simplified for graduate work.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: This unit may be used as an introduction and as such a prerequisite would not be necessary (appropriate for introductory level information).
Type of Material: This is a website (URL) that appears to be a general introduction to Project planning and management, including but not limited to definitions, explanations, samples of charts and graphs and other planning tools typically used in project planning and management. A learning object repository combined with a quiz and tutorial. Additionally, it appears that both the free areas and the subscription areas can serve the purpose of online training for corporations.
Recommended Uses: Although the information provided indicates this is intended for "college general education", this information is more appropriate for those pursuing such areas as TQM, operations management (as noted), and a general business curriculum. This is appropriate for undergraduate introductory course in project management or as a component of the course were project management is introduced. It may also be used as a refresher/preliminary work for a course focused specifically on project management, but it is too simplified for graduate work. Homework for the individual student or for a student study group. Corporate training of employees.
Technical Requirements: Browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The information provided is very effective in conveying components, general principles, and how planning uses these to perform effective planning and management for projects. It is logically sequenced and provides numerous additional areas for exploration, I believe there were 12 areas listed under project management for definitions are provided and examples are available to demonstrate figures, charts, etc. Live links are embedded throughout the definitions and discussions so students can move easily between different subjects to look for examples and definitions.
Concerns: As noted earlier, specific goals and outcomes would be necessary based on what course chooses to use this as a unit. One concern with the website in general is that there are many aspects of management (as demonstrated by the buttons on the left-hand side of the screen), so students would need very specific instructions if project planning and management techniques was the only area to be used. It would be very easy to get lost or distracted with all the other areas available, particularly because there are multiple drop-down menus within each area. In addition, while the embedded links are great for convenience, timeliness and to enable exploration, it would be very easy for students to become lost. An assessment of the subscription components cannot be performed

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: The module begins with a pretest (quiz) which identifies learning gaps for the learner and then gives the learner an assessment of where their skill gaps are and where to focus attention in order to close the learner’s skill gaps.The information has possibilities because it is introductory in nature. The effectiveness can be determined in part by the quiz on the website and the scores the students obtain.
Concerns: The rating for potential effectiveness is not as high as it could be because there is a lack of direction for students. Not only are directions lacking, there are no goals, objectives or expectations of outcomes provided. A major concern with the quiz is that it does not allow one option of Does Not Apply - the site assumes that everybody (apparently) know something about project management and is knowledgeable about the numerous components. However, that assumption should not be made because some may be familiar with parts of the project but may not have the knowledge of the financial areas, for example, unless they were the project leader and had financial responsibility. It is not unusual for project team members who are only responsible for certain aspects of the project as opposed to all areas, just as some teams hold members accountable for everything.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: A student with knowledge of the Internet should have no problems using this site. Although there are multiple levels of drop-down menus, it is easy to use. The embedded links also lead the students to other definitions and examples; by exploring the site they will obtain introductory knowledge to project planning and management techniques.
Concerns: This may be difficult for someone who is not Internet active. The other concern is that students may become lost because of the multiple levels of drop-down menus and by following the embedded links they could lose track of where they were or where they were going.

Other Issues and Comments: Since there is more information available than just project planning and management techniques, students would need a clear agenda and specific requirements (including goals and objectives and outcomes) if they use the site. The quiz at the beginning appears to assume that everybody on the site has project management experience because of the options provided, and this is not likely to be the case, especially if traditional students are being introduced to project management. If students are older or nontraditional, they may have been exposed to project management and may have an advantage.