Yesterday I had the great privilege of leading a workshop for the Project Management Institute Mile Hi Chapter in Denver, Colorado on Open Learning. Humbled is the first word that comes to mind. Over 90 folks (80 in person and 14 online) attended the workshop at Regis University, a Jesuit University northwest of downtown Denver. I found it wonderfully ironic that we held this 3 ½ hour conversation at a Jesuit University when it was the Jesuits who founded some of the oldest schools, colleges, and universities in the world.
Before I go any further, I must first pay my respects to the amazing volunteers in the Mile Hi Chapter who are in charge of their Saturday workshops. Tyler Pollesch is the man! He provided the vision of what the Saturday workshops try to provide and worked hand-in-hand with me throughout the entire process leading up to and during the workshop. Thank you Tyler and thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the workshop a success. Remember to always give a volunteer a hug.
The goal for this workshop was to share open learning resources I have discovered and discuss how they can be applied to our professional development and personal learning journeys. If you want a copy of the slide deck, click on this link, PMI Mile Hi Open Learning Workshop Slide Deck.
Most of the resources revolved around Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Open Courseware, Open Education Resources, and online learning communities like Lynda.com. One of my favorite learning resources online is Degreed and as expected, they became one of my favorite topics to talk about. If you haven’t discovered them yet, I highly encourage you to check them out and create your free profile. Degreed is awesome!
We started out talking about professional development and how it is spread across testing our new skills and knowledge on the job, to working with a mentor, and curling up with a new book or YouTube video while we continue to try and perfect our craft. Then we stepped through a lot of resources available online which I admitted only scratched the service of what is out there. Hopefully though they provided a good starting point for everyone. Then I tried to show everyone an example of how I helped a friend and his small business create a performance management and training program. Using a simple goals and objectives process, we created a measurable and fair performance management framework. Where we identified gaps and opportunities for improvements, we tried to figure out how to use open learning resources to provide on-demand training for his employees, at a very affordable price.
In the end, I like to think it was a successful workshop but I have yet to receive the results of the surveys so I am keeping my fingers crossed. What I enjoyed most was the conversation. Project managers are some of the most curious folks in our workforce. Of course I am little bias but it makes sense. We are asked to walk into any situation and get it done, no matter what, no excuses. So we have to be ready to quickly pick up the language and culture of the environment, prioritize what is important, and immediately start delivering value. Being a lifelong learner is absolutely critical if we want to continue to succeed. Possessing strong leadership, strategic business, and technical skills are necessary but what are also expected are the unseen skills; curiosity, diligence, creativity.
I have been reading Don Quixote for quite a while a now and am almost done, yeah! A quote that sticks out from the book is, “Diligence is the mother of good fortune.” Apply that to our journeys of being lifelong learners and we begin to appreciate the qualities of patience, hard work, and curiosity. The more we practice our craft and learn everything we can get our hands on, the more we grow and succeed.
Thank you again to the PMI Mile Hi Chapter Saturday Workshop Team and everyone who attended for a wonderful Saturday morning in the Rocky Mountains. I hope you all were able to walk away with a new perspective or new idea that will help you in your professional and personal journeys.
Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is the long lost cousin of the Project Management Institute (PMI).
They believe the power of community is transformative, open is the best way to work, and peers working together can move mountains. They realize real people sustain engagement, feedback always improves projects, comfort leads to learning, and there is more than one way to find the answer.
What warmed me heart is when I read the phrase: “A passionate & powerful team of mostly volunteers.”
P2PU fully admits they would be nothing without their inspiring community of volunteers, just like PMI. The P2PU community is global and they are working together to build a new kind of university online. They believe in the power of the community and demonstrate this by helping students and teachers build learning communities where they live. P2PU provides how-to demonstrations and learning tool kits and even provides a turnkey “School in a Box” solution to help you get up and running immediately.
Their courses have a wonderful warm energy. They aren’t your typical MOOC topics which is another reason to fall in love with P2PU. The main topics focus on mathematics, data, web design, education, and open learning. They are committed to being at the front of the open learning movement when the dam breaks and everyone realizes the fantastic opportunities open learning provides to everyone.
P2PU is one of the best learning resources available to project managers because they honor and appreciate the power of community. None of our projects will succeed unless our team and clients come together as a community. PMI will never succeed without the power of its volunteers. Communities are where we measure and evaluate our learning experience.
The goal of learning is to share our new found knowledge and skills with the communities we love and to give back to those who helped us along the way. Regardless of your grades and how well you did on the final exam, the real measure of a successful education is how much you help your community.
The same is true in our projects. The value you deliver is only measured by your client and those who will use your team’s solution. So by starting out with the community in mind, you quickly begin delivering value to those who most need it.
P2PU reminds us about the power of community and giving back to the folks who make it all come together, the volunteers. So when you sign up for a course, please take time to think about who you want to help with the knowledge you are about to learn and please, give a volunteer a hug because without them, none of this is possible.
Thank you P2PU for reminding us about the importance of communities and volunteers.
NovoEd prides themselves on being a social learning platform where students can collaborate across the globe to work on real world projects. Like other Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers, they provide world class content but what distinguishes them from other providers is their focus on the social collaboration of learning.
This phrase probably stood out the most:
“Our courses are built on sound pedagogical foundations to help you learn to be a better team player, creative thinker and problem solver in an active, social, learning environment. Our innovative technology keeps you connected with other students so that you can exchange ideas, work on group projects, get feedback, and form relationships with other learners that last well beyond the course’s end.”
If I didn’t tell you this was an academic organization, you may have thought I was talking about a new professional development program for project managers at some cool hip startup up company.
NovoEd has become one of my favorite MOOC providers because of their focus on the social interactions of learning and the social impact of empowered learners. They look beyond the traditional boundaries of learning to provide unique opportunities most students would not even consider.
Lately, I have been working with a few non-profit organizations in my local community. While reading through the NovoEd website, I came across an opportunity to earn a Certificate in Social Impact Leadership from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. This would be perfect for those nonprofits I have been trying to help as well as the local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter I volunteer with. PMI, I think you need to give NovoEd a call and see if they are interested in providing these courses to PMI chapters. Check out these awesome classes that make up the certification:
NovoEd reminds me of how social and collaborative learning really is. The goal of learning is not just to learn something new but to also share what we have learned with as many people as possible so we can help this world be a better place. When you break down the professional world into simple chunks, it really comes down to learning and helping. As project managers, we are professional helpers. To continue doing what we do, we need resources like NovoEd to help us learn new skills and ideas so we can continue making this world smile.
Thank you NovoEd for helping me smile today :)
Even though the origins of MOOCs are under debate in my opinion the idea started in Canada with the work of George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and David Cormier (shout out to all my favorite Canadian friends, you know who you are), the "Big 3" though are usually credited as being the first MOOC providers. This also started to create a stereotype that all MOOCs are just focused on North America which as you will see is definitely not the case. The following ten MOOC providers are spread all over the world which makes me so happy because the simple idea of open free education is a worldwide concept that must be shared. I created this list a little over six months ago so I am sure there are more out there but this hopefully provides you a solid beginning to find more resources that will help you grow as a project manager and servant leader with world class strategic business skills and technical skills that are second to none.
The simple beauty of this list is that is represents MOOCs in almost every major language on almost every continent. In Africa, nonprofit organizations like Generation Rwandaare taking full advantage of their internet connection to provide students opportunities that some people in America are taking for granted. Generation Rwandais providing seed funding for Kepler University. The goal there is to provide students an opportunity to live and work together while they earn a bachelor’s degree online using MOOC material accredited by U.S. and European universities. The school is based on a blended-learning modelin partnership with Southern New Hampshire Universityand will only cost $1,000/year. This is similar to Coursera’s Learning Hubswhere students have a physical classroom to access Courseramaterial alongside other peers and colleagues. Spire is a similar program in Kenya which is currently under development. Also along the same lines as Kepler Universitya business incubator and arts center built in downtown Bangalore, India is home to Jaaga. The goal is to develop computer programmers so they can jump into the job market after one year of intensive studies. Students will study MOOC content in partnership with volunteer facilitators and online mentors from around the world.
The goal of PM Nerd is to show you alternative resources where you can study and grow in your project management career. Hopefully this posts shows you that if students in Bangalore or Rwanda can use MOOC content to launch their careers, what could happen if you look beyond the standard PDU requirements and used MOOCs to design your project management career? Organizations like PMI do a great job providing us the framework to focus our efforts on leadership, strategic business, and technical skills. MOOCs then provide the resources for you to study almost any subject so you can become a more effective strategic servant leader at a very affordable rate.
If you know of any other MOOC providers not on this list, please share them in the comments.
Thank you for sharing this moment and I hope you have a fantastic day.