For some time now I have been teaching virtual "live" courses via Internet, preparing students for the PMP® exam certification by PMI®. I keep GoToMeeting meetings with them for sharing presentations, audio, video, etc., never longer than three hours and no more than 5 students at a time. From class to class we use Asana for homework tasks, Q&A, sharing conversations, etc.
I have been able to compare with the traditional format of classroom training and I must say that, at least from my experience, with the technology available today, the effectiveness of these virtual courses is no longer inferior. If we add the advantages of not having to travel, savings in infrastructure and other material costs, a more direct and personal tracking of students progresses, etc., it is no wonder that more and more training offering is on the rise, at the expense of the traditional format. Could this mean a new paradigm shift in the courses for PMI exams?
According to my experiences teaching groups in both formats, I can tell that the efficiency of a traditional course is 25 points lower than a virtual live instructor-led one, but the final cost for the student is more than three times. If you are interested on the rationale behind these conclusions, then keep on reading...
Let's imagine a student who wants to get his or her PMP® certification. The figure below represents a value stream mapping for the traditional cycle from start to finish, considering the value time dedicated to achieve the objectives and time waste time otherwise:
- Find an Education Provider: A student usually spend much time researching to know which supplier is the best for him or her. Suppose an average time of four hours to choose and hire a course (searching = waste).
- Attend to classroom: If this is a typical course of 5 classes of 7 hours each, we get 35 hours of value time, and considering travels, coffee breaks, lunch time, etc., we can get an estimate of 15 hours for waste time.
- Start Self Study: Students do not take the exam just after finishing the course. It usually takes weeks (or even months) until they decide to complete their preparation on their own. This would require reviewing the entire course material. Let's estimate a total of 4 hours (waste).
- Self studying the PMBOK: As it is prescribed, each student should read once or twice the PMBOK Guide (4 value hours).
- Self studying other books: Sometimes in this phase, students discover serious conceptual misunderstandings, but the instructor is no longer there to help them. Students spend a lot of time reading other books to complete what is not in the course materials (20 waste hours).
- Choose a Test Simulator: During onsite classes there is not much time to practice tests similar to the PMI exam, but any PMI examination demands high performance answering questions. Quite often students decide to acquire a PMP exam simulator, one of the many available. Suppose it takes about 2 hours to select and pay the one he or she likes (this time allocated at research is waste).
- Practice PMI Exam like tests: Suppose 30 hours practicing PMI like tests, 20 hours of net learning plus another 10 hours of waste.
- Collect Project Experience: Suppose from 4 to 8 hours preparing the information on experience in projects over the last 8 years (paperwork = waste).
- Fill in and submit PMI certification online eligibility forms: Filling out forms about personal information, training and experience at www.pmi.org (1 hour paperwork = waste).
- Pass the PMI audit (in case): Assume 8 waste hours.
- Take the PMI Exam: 4 exam hours, 20 hours if travelling is needed.
The efficiency figure can be obtained dividing the value time over the total cycle time. In this case we get an efficiency of 41%. My estimation cost for the student per value added hour is 24€.
By analogy, if we model the value stream mapping for a virtual live instructor-led course, efficiency rises up to 66%:
... and finally the best part: the cost for the student per value added hour falls down to 6.5€:
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