Directed learning from home – does it work?

I get frustrated when I hear people comment that they ‘do not have time in my busy life to study’ or that ‘the organisation cannot afford to send me on a week’s training course’, and the missed opportunities because of these.  I am an advocate of continuous professional development (CPD) as well as translating academic theory into operational best practice and use in active project management environments.  I am interested in alternative opportunities to classroom based learning (that is not to say that this format is redundant, it certainly has its place).

Given my interest in CPD and project management, I was thrilled to be asked by Arras People to undertake an online course in Advanced Strategic Project Management being offered by Villanova University in the USA.  This course is part of a range of course offerings which formulate their Master Certificates in Project Management.

This course appealed to me for two reasons:

(i)  advanced learning in strategic project management techniques; and

(ii)  a novel way of approaching directed learning.

I spend a lot of my time discussing projects and project management techniques with colleagues, clients and fellow project management professionals, and a topic which keeps cropping up is the lack of engagement from the business/organisation with project management, and the lost opportunity of benefits realisation by including project management as part of a business strategy or approach.

I am hoping this course further deepens my understanding and approach to strategic level project management (as the title alludes).  The overview of the course certainly seems to depict key topics that I would expect (and look forward) to covering, such as enterprise project management, strategically aligning the project management function, operational planning, project management office (PMO), strategic and tactical project issues and cultural considerations.  It is pleasing to see that the course will hopefully cover practical approaches to technical and soft skill topics and issues.  The course also aims to cover advanced aspects of risk management, quality, leading change, and maturity models.  Fingers crossed the course fulfils on its mouth-watering promises!

My other interest in the course is the method of study, in this case delivered via online seminars supported by reading and DVD material.  One of the downsides to CPD is trying to find time to undertake learning – it is often difficult to justify time away from daily work or from family time (when trying to achieve a work/life balance).  I tend spend time reading books or blogs etc, perhaps due to my academic background, and enjoy these aspects as part of my personal CPD, but sometimes it is easy to ‘not be in the mood’ or to put it off ‘for another day’ – I am in control of what and when I learn, and this sometimes has a downside in that I don’t do it.  This course is different in that it is instructor led, is time constrained to 8 weeks and has a series of tasks and assignments to undertake as well as passing the appropriate test to pass the course.  I am hoping that this directed learning keeps me focused and guides me logically through the material – in a similar fashion to classroom based learning.  I also have the benefit of choosing when I study, but knowing I have certain milestones and deadlines to meet – i.e. just like a project.

With the course starting on the 1st February, and an intensive 8 weeks of study ahead of me, I am pleased to report that to date the pre-course preparation has been straightforward – I have received the course manuals, DVD resources and additional reading material, and am thumbing through in anticipation.

Image © liquene and used with permission.

Featured image courtesy nyuhuhuu and used with permission

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