The Case of BLENDLEE
By Marcos Welker
Prof Dr. Andre Dechange
Despite the emergence of new learning technologies, the field of competence development has suffered from a lack of effective methodologies and frameworks that integrate current technological, professional, organizational and experiential requirements. Traditional unitary approaches have faced challenges when trying to cope with the complexities of competence development in project management. Using a case study as a background, this paper presents a new and innovative way of creating blended learning instructional design and the results of its application on a module in a master’s course on project management. The hypothesis is that factual information can be delivered using computer-based instruction (online) – as declarative knowledge held by students – whereas face-to-face time is saved for deeper social learning experiences.
Keywords: blended learning, project management, project management skills, skills’ development, contextualization, scenario-based learning, situated cognition
Nowadays, the market demand for highly applicable skills is more dynamic than ever and, as a result, educational institutions and training providers face the challenge of adapting their approaches to a more performance-centered learning that combines both efficiency and effectiveness and focuses on these dynamic market demands.
In pursuit of answers to this challenge, blended learning, as an approach to instructional design, has recently gained the attention of educators  . In its simplest form, a blended learning course combines the best elements of two other approaches, online and live or lectured instruction, while also seeking to address some of their limitations . Blended learning (or blended instruction) can benefit from both instructional methodologies, while the ways in which teachers are applying blended instruction in the classroom are becoming increasingly varied.
However, the simple combination of online and face-to-face sessions has so far not been proven to provide the expected efficiency and effectiveness from the point of view of performance-centered learning. The design of blended instruction can represent the difference between the development of high performing or low performing professionals. When developing an efficient and effective blended learning course, the following points should be considered:
- How is the content created?
- What types of content are offered?
- In what amount and with what frequency are they offered?
- Are the new roles and responsibilities of the instructor adapted to the new approach?
A new approach to blended learning instructional design was developed and used in the module Introduction to Project Management of the European Master’s in Project Management (EuroMPM) from the University of Applied Arts and Sciences, Dortmund.
Although other benefits were also observed, the main goals of the project were:
- To raise the learning performance in terms of a holistic understanding of project management, levels of information retention and students’ practical skills.
- To offer more flexibility in teaching and learning.
- Challenges in the development of project management skills
The development of project management skills is especially challenging   as they require a particularly high amount of hard and soft skills as well as good decision-making and problem solving abilities. The inherent complexity of projects demands that key capabilities  be developed and present, even under immense pressure and stress. A lack of previous experience in this area on behalf of the learner can make achieving an understanding of the abstract nature and concepts of project management a particularly challenging task, making this an extremely difficult discipline to teach. Due to the nature of the competences required in such complex project scenarios, Egginton  has highlighted the need to hone specific professional behaviors which can only be attained through experiential learning . Therefore, the approach to be taken in the blendlee case should not only be blended, but also be as experiential as possible.
Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the International Research Conference 2016 at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Fachhochschule Dortmund) in Dortmund, Germany in June 2016. It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.
About the Authors
Marcos Welker is PMP certified project management professional, holds an MBA in Information Technology and a Master’s Degree in Project Management. He is specialised in management of projects according to international standards; processes efficiency analysis and optimization strategies; market analysis for strategy definition; complex enterprise systems integration and optimization; training and mentorship of teams. His recent research on effective and efficient strategies for project management competences development motivated him to co-found a start-up company called ‘blendlee’ which is focused on innovative approach on blended learning instructional design. The approach combines different cognitive strategies using scenario-based learning, experiential practice and also the application of different media to enhance the blend. The latest project was a course design for a Master’s degree course “Introduction to Project Management” in the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
Marcos can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jolita Kiznyte holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration, Double Master’s Degree in Project Management, and is certified as the Professional Scrum Master (PSM). She co-founded a start-up company called ‘blendlee’ which is focused on an innovative approach for blended learning instructional design. The approach combines different cognitive strategies using scenario-based learning, experiential practice and also the application of different media to enhance the blend. The latest project was a course design for a Master degree course “Introduction to Project Management” in the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
The main areas of interest and research:
- Applying project management methods in start-up business development
- Agile in non-software development projects
- Cross-cultural project teams’ management
- The importance of cultural intelligence in project management
- Public and cultural diplomacy
Jolita can be contacted via email: email@example.com
André Dechange, born 1967, studied electrical engineering and business administration and made his PhD at the Technical University in Dortmund. He worked as a consultant and manager in different international companies for more than 20 years. He was responsible for more than 4 years for a Project Management Office (PMO) in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Since 2008 he is working as a trainer and consultant for project management. He is a PMP and a professor of project management at the University of Applied Science in Dortmund.
André can be contacted at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.