Archive for April, 2011

Duration of eLearning

April 19, 2011

I write and teach a live class that takes 2 full days from 9am to 5pm to complete. There are 11 lessons and 22 practice exercises in the live class.

I recently converted that class to an eLearning course. The eLearning course has 5.5 hours of videos in segments that average 2.5 minutes each. It also has the same 22 practice exercises and some new self-test quizzes at the end of the 11 lessons.

Again, 5.5 hours of video and the live class takes 14 hours (if you subtract 1 hour each day for lunch.)

I am running a Beta test of the eLearning course right now and I am blown away by how long it is taking my students to complete the course. 3 of the 10 students are done and it has taken them 40 hours on average! They are spending almost 3x longer on the eLearning course than on the live course! The students are claiming that the 40 hours was spent on the eLearning course. They claim that they weren’t just logged in while doing other work.

Does eLearning take longer? Do students spend more time on an eLearning course than they do on a live class?


Analyzing Scope Creep

April 8, 2011

I am going to write a story about a project at home that started simple enough but grew into a very large project. My wife and I decided that I would build a swing set for our daughters. Having never done one before, I assumed that my costs would include the costs of the swing set and some mulch to throw underneath. I also assumed I could recruit one friend and do it in a day. Everything sounded simple enough during the Conceive phase (Portny et al, 2008.)

Problems started during the Define phase. While researching all of the project tasks, it was discovered that our backyard was not level enough to set down a swing set. This would add several weekends of landscaping tasks to the project. We also learned that from various safety recommendations that a handful of trees were too close to the project area. This would add extra cost and an extra weekend of delay while the tree crew did their work. Looking back, my wife and I wish we did more research before we promised a swing set to our daughters. The stakeholders (my daughters) were not very patient about the delays.

The Start and Perform phases went well. It was difficult to do the landscaping but I prepared the site without too much difficulty. The tree crew did a wonderful job with tree removal and stump grinding. Finally, the “contractor” (one of my best friends) and I were able to assemble the swing set in one morning within budget (I owed him lunch).

The Close phase brought one more change of scope. We decided to upgrade the mulch to recycled rubber mulch. It is cleaner, safer, and helps the environment. This raised the year one costs because this is more expensive than wooden mulch, but is expected to save us money in the long run because we will not need to replace it every year. It also delayed the finish of the project because we had to find a vendor who sold the material in our area.

In the end, my daughters were very happy and love their swing set. The cost was higher than we anticipated and it took several extra weekends due to the yard work, but it has been worth it watching them play in the yard.


Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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