EME 6607 Project Proposal

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Matt Marino For a Paper Version click here

Executive Summary

As a Monmouth University employee it is known that communications regarding the failure of Cengage SAM as a teaching tool have been expressed by faculty and students. Students and faculty identified numerous issues when utilizing the Cengage SAM software that were reported to the department head. As of May 2016, professors are seeking alternatives to utilize in the classroom triggered towards student success.

Following a review of available alternatives professors have identified Pearson MyITLab as a strong alternative to switch to. The new software is collaborative in nature and will allow for professors to be trained for usage within the classroom. The software change is designed to limit student frustration and increase student engagement. The Pearson MyITLab software more closely matches MS Office tasks than Cengage SAM did.

The switch to Pearson MyITLab brings a number of improvements for classroom success. Not only will professors actually be trained in how to use the software and the software actually matching what students are doing; there are other improvements too. The Pearson software is collaborative and can transfer grades to the eCampus learning management system. No longer will professors be required to print grade sheets. Since the Pearson software assignments and exams actually match what students will be doing in MS Office the need to constantly be modifying grades due to software errors will decrease substantially. Additionally, with training professors are more prepared to address student questions regarding the software in case there is an issue.

The changeover to the Pearson software will seek to limit the risks that were seen with Cengage SAM. Assumptions will be made that problems will be more easily solved with the Pearson software due to training. There is a limited staff requirement to make the switch as training will be scheduled for professors. Implementing the new software will be relatively easy with accounts being created for professors and students purchasing access codes. The budget associated with the change is fairly reasonable; focusing primarily on software licenses for professors and paying for attendance to the training session.

The defined schedule is set to have all professors and Information Technology lab assistants prepared for the start of the Fall semester on Tuesday, September 6th. The schedule also allows room for students to provide feedback on the software change throughout the semester. Adhering to this schedule allows all tasks to be completed in a timely manner with the primary focus being on preparation for using the Pearson software in the upcoming semester.

There are a number of stakeholders to be impacted: students, department head, professors, Information Technology lab assistants, etc. The change is geared towards improving all stakeholders’ relationship with IT 100. For professors and the department head it provides a teaching tool that has fewer glitches and increases student engagement due to this. Students will be more inclined to complete their assignments due to the software not incorrectly marking them wrong on a question; as Cengage SAM was prone to do. With professors actually trained in the new software Information Technology lab assistants will be more widely available to answer all individual student questions during class time. This should lead to an overall stronger classroom environment.

Choosing to make the change from Cengage SAM to Pearson MyITLab will improve the overall classroom experience. With professors now trained in the software associated with the course they are able to provide stronger and quicker responses to student questions and concerns. Students will benefit from this and be more engaged due to the lack of software issues. Overall, the change in software will improve the classroom experience and hopefully student grades.

Proposed Project

Monmouth University’s School of Science houses the Information Technology department comprised of Information Technology and Computer Science full time professors; as well as, adjunct professors. Within the Information Technology department a required course entitled IT 100 is offered. This project intends to integrate new instructional software called Pearson MyITLab to replace the currently used Cengage SAM software. The department’s need to integrate a new software stems from a number of factors. The primary student concern has been that Cengage SAM is too expensive, costing over $100 to use for 6 months. There were a number of other student concerns that resulted in extra work for professors too. The Cengage SAM software was very finicky due to its button clicking simulations, the software did not match the course textbook or commonly accepted ways to complete tasks within MS Office programs, and the training methods did not match associated assignments. This led to professors having to constantly modify grades due to errors the software made. The biggest concern was that Cengage SAM’s simulations did not match MS Office. These identified deficiencies are the reason for the change. This assessment of needs revealed a software more student friendly was needed. To continue to address student needs, professors will administer surveys at the end of the course for feedback on the new software.

Stakeholders

There are a number of stakeholders that will be impacted through this project. Those most heavily impacted are the department head, full time professors, adjunct professors, and Information Technology lab assistants. The department head will be impacted the most. She will need to complete the following tasks to ensure the upcoming semester works smoothly with the new software: develop a relationship with a Pearson customer service representative, purchase licenses to the software, create accounts for full time and adjunct professors using the software license, train professors in using the software, address concerns from professors, develop assignments to distribute to professors, train Information Technology lab assistants, and review student feedback on the software change at the end of the semester.

Full time professors and adjunct professors will also be impacted, but not as heavily. These professors will be provided with assignments for their students to complete; so they will need to develop teaching materials geared towards completing those goals. Prior to this occurring professors will need to access the software to make sure their license is working properly and they can view all content the department head has distributed. Professors will attend training on the new software to become acclimated and will need to ask the department head any questions they might have. Professors will need to be comfortable enough to be ready to start using the software in their courses in the Fall semester.

The Information Technology lab assistants will be among a group of stakeholders that are only slightly impacted by the change in software. In previous semesters new Information Technology lab assistants were required to be trained on Cengage SAM once the semester started. They could only enter the classroom they were to serve as a lab assistant for once they completed their training. For the Fall semester all Information Technology lab assistants will need to be trained in the new software, Pearson MyITLab. Due to this the department head will hold the training sessions prior to the start of the semester.

There are also a number of university specific stakeholders outside of those in the classroom that will be impacted. The technology integration department will need to make sure that the classroom computers are able to run the new software and make professors aware of any limitations, such as the software not working on a Mac. The university bookstore has determined to sell the new software license through a digital product key. This will limit the impact the change has on students; as they had to do this previously. These measures will be taken to limit the impact the change will have on students.

Deliverables

Due to the nature of this project, the project deliverables are limited. There is no equipment involved; as the software is web based. Training will be provided by the department head to full time professors, adjunct professors, and Information Technology lab assistants. Professors will need to be able to access the software and demonstrate to students how to create their accounts.

Budget and Schedule

The budget for this project is not substantial. At this point the Cengage SAM licenses are considered a sunk cost. However, the new licenses for Pearson MyITLab will be a new cost. To secure the necessary licenses for the department head, full time professors, and adjunct professors will be $2,000. Students purchase their software license; called access codes, through the university bookstore. Professors will be required to attend one of the two training days on campus. The training session will last 4 hours. The adjunct professors will be paid $25 an hour. The total cost for paying adjunct professors for the training session will be $600; 6 adjunct professors, being paid $100 each for attending the training session. This is due to no adjunct professor being employed over the summer. Full time professors and the department head will not be paid for this due to being salary employees. The same scenario will occur with the Information Technology lab assistants. They will be required to attend one four hour training session. Lab assistants will be paid $10 an hour for attending their training session. With twenty lab assistants this will cost $800 to pay all lab assistants for their attendance. Each lab assistant earns $40 for the training session; resulting in the total. Therefore, the overall cost of the project after securing licenses and paying for training attendance will be $3,400.

The schedule will be more clearly defined in the Gantt chart you shall be receiving later this month. However, we will start the project on June 1st and look to have all tasks completed by the end of the Fall semester. From June 1st through June 14th we will complete the “Initiating phase.” In this phase the department head will secure licenses, create accounts, and confirm professors have access their accounts. From June 15th through June 28th we will complete the “Planning phase.” This will include having the department head introduce professors to the Pearson customer service representative, the professor training sessions, and time for professors to become acclimated with the new software. From June 24th to July 7th we will complete the “Executing phase.” The department head will distribute course assignments while professors are acclimating themselves with the new software in order to start testing out assignments and exams. From July 8th to August 25th we will complete the “Monitoring and Controlling phase.” This will be the time period where professors complete their preparation for the upcoming semester and create teaching materials driven towards allow students to be successful on assignments and exams within Pearson MyITLab. From August 25th to December 12th we will complete the “Closing phase.” This phase will have two parts to it; one before the semester and one during the semester. From August 25th to 26th the department head will be training the lab assistants on the new software. From August 26th until the start of the semester on September 6th professors will be able to ask any last minute questions in preparation of their courses. The second part will run through the course of the semester; September 6th through December 12th, where professors will solicit student feedback on the software change to present to the department head. In order to keep on schedule throughout the summer these tasks must be completed on time with limited extensions.

Project Staffing Requirements

This project has limited staffing requirements. The department head will need to be on campus the days she is training professors on how to use the new software and again on the days she is training the Information Technology lab assistants. Likewise, the professors and lab assistants will need to attend the training days. With an assigned outside customer service representative there are no other requirements specific to staffing. No extra staff will be needed to complete this project.

Risks

There are a number of risks that could creep up inside the classroom once using the new software. Cengage SAM always seemed to have a glitch when students were completing assignments and exams. It is possible with the switch to Pearson MyITLab this might happen. Professors will need to be prepared for how to resolve these issues. Professors will need to examine individual assignments and exams for any software related error and award points accordingly. Cengage SAM acted differently between a Mac and PC. Professors will need to make students aware that if this occurs with Pearson MyITLab that there is a 24/7 computer lab on campus. The biggest risk is that the department head is not on campus every day. Professors will need to make their students aware that they might not be able to address every concern immediately. This might result in a delay in grading of assignments.

Assumptions

The implementation of this project proposal assumes that all full time faculty, professors, and Information Technology student lab assistants will have no issues switching from Cengage SAM to Pearson MyITLab. I will assume that any one struggling to utilize the Pearson MyITLab will attend training sessions and engage in discussions about the software. I will assume students will be able to register an account with Pearson MyITLab fairly quickly. I will assume professors will spend more time preparing for classes due to the change in software. Once the software has been used during multiple semesters the prep time will lessen. I will assume that any further concerns will be addressed specifically with the department head and subsequently resolved.

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