Distance Learning Tips from Francine Morgan

essex caresProject managers have always recognised the importance of professional qualifications to both enhance their career prospects and enable them to more consistently deliver successful projects for their employers. However, with the constraints of a busy modern life finding the time to attend the required courses is not always easy. Not only does it require time out of the office but it may also present problems with travel, costs, childcare and being away from home.

For these reasons distance learning has become increasingly popular and for one Essex-based project manager it enabled her to achieve another professional PM qualification without too much disruption to work and home life.

Francine Morgan, a project manager with Essex Cares, an ISO 9001 accredited company providing social care services to UK local authorities, recently completed the APMP distance learning programme with Parallel Project Training and achieved a remarkable 90% pass rate – one of the highest scores ever achieved via any type of training programme for the prestigious APMP qualification.

Project Managers at Essex Cares tend to get involved in a range of project types such as business development projects, pilots for new services and new IT system implementations. Francine already had a PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification and had been working as a project manager since 2007. However, when her employer decided to embrace the APMP approach the training and development team recommended the "APMP for PRINCE2 Practitioners" course to her.

The distance learning course worked for Francine because of the constraints placed on her time by a young family and an already busy workload; it allowed her to study in her own time and at her own pace.

echarris image 1She found Parallel's online community an invaluable resource for sample exam questions, insights into other candidates' thoughts, reassurance that she was on the right track with her answers and developing her exam technique so that her responses were structured correctly.

She attributes her very high pass rate to a number of factors:

  • Hard work
  • Help from the Parallel team via the online community
  • Support from her employer, including study leave immediately before the exam
  • Being able to relate her learning to real-work situations
  • The Parallel podcasts
  • Focusing on her strengths in the actual exam

Francine is, of course, delighted with her high pass rate but, more importantly, it has helped her in her day-to-day role as a project manager; she commented "The APMP course placed emphasis on leadership and motivation so encouraged me to focus on adapting my leadership style to different situations and people, involving the project team more, building their confidence and helping them to understand the value and benefits of each project. All of which are now contributing to a more motivated team and improved project outcomes."

Parallel Project Training deliver a wide range of training courses using a variety of methods and media including e-learning, podcasts, workshops, traditional classroom-based courses and master classes. Underlying their very practical methods of training is a serious approach to professionalism within project management.

Distance Learning For Individuals

Our APM Project Management Distance learning is a cost-effective & successful approach for many individuals. It provides a wider choice of courses than those available in your near vicinity so is suitable for those not living near large cities or towns. It is also much more flexible, allowing candidates to schedule learning at a time that suits them and fits in with other commitments; ideal for those who find it difficult to take time away from their workplace. It also allows candidates to work at their own pace, and revisit sections of the course as often as needed, leading to a fuller understanding of all the topics covered.

Pass rates of exams for professional project management qualifications are just as high for those attending distance learning courses as for traditional classroom courses. In addition, there are none of the high costs of travel and accommodation associated with courses at an external venue.

Corporate Blended Learning

Blended learning combines self-study with face-to-face workshops. This has the advantage of reducing time out of the office and a more flexible training environment. A typical programme is spread over 4 to 8 weeks with three or more face-to-face sessions during that time. The benefits of this approach are:

  1. Less time out of the office.
  2. More time to absorb and reflect on the course contents.
  3. Structured homework and a mock exam.
  4. Supports a wide range of learning styles.

Our client case study with Turner and Townsend describes the advantages of this flexible approach to produce very high pass rates in the APMP qualification.