History of How Our Course Materials Were Developed
Bill has been teaching PMP Exam Prep in the form of a weekly study group for over seven years now. The result of conducting all these study groups is that Bill obtained a whole lot of deep practice working with students over long periods of time — months instead of just four or five days of class.
Through this deep practice and rich feedback, Bill gradually developed a PMP Exam Prep course from the bottom-up. He started with schedule network diagrams and earned value management — the two areas where almost everyone needs a boost up the learning curve. He refined these modules as he searched for ever more effective ways to get the concepts across to students. Some of the students having the most difficulty with the concepts pushed Bill hardest, leading to some of the most valuable innovations in his course materials, like the clearly defined scenarios in his treatment of earned value management.
Gradually Bill added additional course material, always aiming for the next most-important concept that needed to be conveyed. With weekly feedback from study group sessions, he refined the flow of how the class sessions were conducted. Lecture was added before practice questions, to prime students to handle the practice questions better. The sequence of practice questions was refined, and eventually all the practice questions were replaced with new ones written by Bill to better reinforce important concepts and surface certain material that was not included in the lecture because it could be taught better through example. The dynamics of how practice questions were conducted and discussed was refined, resulting in an artifact which has become a key part of our class experience which we call ‘poker cards’.
No Forced Marches Here
Bill then instructed over a dozen 4-day boot camp classroom sessions for another company, where he was permitted to use his own course materials. Glowing feedback from students provided Bill with additional confirmation that the course he'd created was valuable and even energizing -- where so many 4-day boot camp classes can feel like a forced march into an energy-sapping stream from a fire hose. Only after this confirmation did we go through the process to become a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.)
Result: students who have previously taken other courses tell us that our lectures are very unique and particularly helpful.
Relevance in the Real World
During class, the moment a student gets the feeling that the endeavor is only about getting the PMP certification, the whole endeavor begins to feel like a pointless waste of time and energy. Bill realized that students need a sense of purpose — a belief that the PMI framework for project management can indeed help them in their work. So, while Bill is focused like a laser on helping students prepare for the PMP exam, he realized that he needed to constantly strive for a resonance with work in the real world. Through the design of practice questions, and through what is said in lectures and discussion, drawing clear parallels to the work environments faced by the students has become a key strategy to maximize relevance. This is critical to maximizing student engagement and learning during class, and to motivation during subsequent study.