Project Management Institute

A cool way to study for the PMP® exam

SoftwareReview

by Charles Howe, Contributing Editor

WE NEVER SEEM TO HAVE ENOUGH time in our busy lives to learn by the normal avenues. With my packed schedule, military service, and a family of six, my bachelor’s and master’s degrees took me almost 17 years to complete, but my mentor told me, “Life is like a rose; if we aren’t growing, we are dying.”

I feel that if I don’t learn something new every day my day is wasted. Believing as I do that we all need to constantly hone our skills, I had often thought that I’d like to earn Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification from the Project Management Institute. It’s not only the point of having the certification, but the chance to learn more about the field. Besides, having the PMP would enhance anyone’s résumé. However, I work 10 to 12 hours each day, and with my schedule and living away from home during the week I don’t have time to attend the study groups.

Can’t find time to prep for certification? Check out this new e-learning program.

How does your free time measure up to today’s busy standards? Well, for all of you project managers, or those who wish to be, here is a treat for you.

A newer method of training is what DBM Knowledge Communication calls e-learning. This program of software learning allows you to master your professional development in a fraction of the time of attending classes. I hate to use the old cliché “You can learn at your own pace,” but it certainly applies here. The particular product of discussion this month is the DBM Knowledge Communication Library.

DBM is Drake Beam Morin, a Harcourt Professional and Corporate Development Company, which is headquartered in Boston, Mass., USA, and has over 200 offices in more than 40 countries. Drake Beam Morin, a charter member of the Project Management Institute’s Registered Education Provider Program, has a new project management curriculum. All of the project management programs in the DBM Knowledge Communication Library were developed in alignment with PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The DBM Project Management Program has 11 different study courses to assist you with your PMP studies. The courses can be used stand-alone from a CD, Internet, or across your intranet. PMPs can receive a maximum of 34 Professional Development Units (PDUs) for the Knowledge Communication Project Management curriculum. (PMPs are required to earn 60 PDUs during each three-year cycle they are involved in the PMI® Professional Development Program.)

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Charlie Howe, CQA, CSTE, is a contributing editor on various project management, quality assurance, and configuration management topics. He is an independent IT consulting based in Houston, Texas, and can be reached via e-mail at chowe@ev1.net. Comments on this column should be directed to editorial@pmi.org.

After the learner completes each quiz, the program displays strengths that were derived from the test scores. The pane on the left displays the video that runs during the simulations throughout each lesson

Exhibit 1. After the learner completes each quiz, the program displays strengths that were derived from the test scores. The pane on the left displays the video that runs during the simulations throughout each lesson.

I found that the DBM Knowledge Communication Library delivers a learning solution that enables companies to address their training needs with a wide range of business and professional skills programs. DBM’s learn-by-doing programs offer a solution that results in ease of learning and immediate transfer of knowledge and skills.

“E-learning continues to grow at an astounding rate: 42 percent of organizations are now using e-learning solutions for their employees’ business, management, and technical skills development,” said Dale Ralph, managing consultant in DBM’s Denver office. “Of those companies not currently using e-learning solutions, 92 percent expect to utilize them within 12 months. With the introduction of extremely sophisticated, interactive courseware and the ability to achieve increased learning retention and decreased training costs, training professionals are looking to e-learning as an appealing option. This is especially true in the soft skills training industry, which is growing twice as fast as the technical skills training industry.”

The two pieces of software that I reviewed in this series were Time Management and Scope. In addition, I ran the Internet simulation (shown in Exhibit 1) from the DBM website. I used my notebook computer and a 56K modem dial-up, and the simulation ran at a fairly rapid pace. The courses include video, voiceovers, allow your interaction, and give you a grade at the end of the simulation.

The software that I received came on two very professionally packaged CDs that installed in just a couple of minutes. After the installation of the program, it installed QuickTime 4™ (QT4). QT4 is used to display the short video clips during the different segments of the lessons. ShockWave™ also is used to display the help files. The program takes you through many scenarios that have interactive sessions with imaginary people from assorted companies with a variety of situations in which you are asked to help project managers with certain problems pertaining to that project. During one lesson, you will interact with answers to provide a solution to the problem at hand.

You will be asked your name and a password at the beginning of the lesson. After you log in, the program will list all the sections in the lesson. You may enter any section that interests you. If you exit in the middle of the lesson, the program remembers your location, and you will continue where you left off. Each lesson has three parts: question and answer, quiz, and simulation.

The Q&A will list all sections in the program. When you click on the selected question, you have the option to let the program’s voiceover explain the display graphics as you learn. The last option will display the answer text and the voiceover will read for you. The second option will read and display all text. You just pick your best learning option.

This graphic displays at the end of the quiz. It shows the areas of your strengths and indicates your performance

Exhibit 2. This graphic displays at the end of the quiz. It shows the areas of your strengths and indicates your performance.

The next section is the quiz. You can review the lessons before taking the quiz. If you choose the right answer, the text “Correct” pops up and then displays the text from which the question was derived. If you choose the wrong answer, “Incorrect” pops up, displays the right answer, and goes on to explain what your answer should have been.

In the last section, a simulation video will quiz you using scenarios. You then will be presented with multiple choices. If you choose correctly, a short video clip will affirm your answer. If you are wrong, the clip will tell you the right answer and associated text. A simulation result is shown in Exhibit 2.

To experience e-learning, go to www.knowledgecom.com. You can try a simulation online and see the full course catalog and company information. You also can sign up for a two-week trial for the online learning. Once you complete all these courses, you just run to one of the testing centers and take the 200-question exam. This may be a really easy way for you nocturnal, or just plain busy, learners to complete the pre-exam studies and become one of the elite Project Management Professionals.

I REALLY ENJOYED the two CDs I reviewed. It was learning and having fun at the same time. I feel that with my schedule this will be the method by which I will earn my PMP certification. I will use the Internet special they advertise, which allows access to one class for up to a year for $99 via the Internet. And I plan to spread the news of this program to my fellow practitioners at my monthly PMI chapter meetings. ■

Charlie's Recap

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EXCELLENT

DBM Knowledge
Communication Library™

An easy way to study for the PMP certification—at your own pace. Can be used stand-alone, Internet or Intranet based. Quick and easy installation. One can sign up for Internet learning online.

Price: Single User: Internet $US99 per class; Site License Available for multiple students.

Pros: Great look and feel. Super-Interactive interface. Very intuitive screens and great graphics. Tech Support is good.

Cons: Learning in this manner does not appeal to some students. May be pricey for CD learning for one student.

DBM, Inc
www.knowledgecom.com
(1-800-851-4134)

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PM Network October 2000

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