Successful online course development project – How to achieve it?

The success of any project depends essentially on project manager’s skills, experience, and understanding of the subject area. Like any other project, online course development projects must meet the following requirements:

  • Project completed on time and within allocated budget;
  • Meeting project objectives;
  • Team members’ performance according to project requirements;
  • Satisfaction of Interests of all stakeholders.

There is an important feature that online course development project requires constant cooperation and collaboration between different parties, and it is a real challenge to achieve it. Project manager’s job reminds me a constant balancing between different views, approaches, and interpretations and keeping the focus on:

  • Quality requirements;
  • Risk assessments and management;
  • Project progress and deadlines;
  • Effective communication with all stakeholders.

While working in Academia, I have managed several online course development projects. I have to say that not all my projects were successful. Based on my personal experience, I’d like to share my views about successful projects and successful Project manager.

What makes you a good project manager?

Quite often project managers are having an unpleasant reputation. I agree, it is hard to combine the ability to tell others what to do, monitor their performance and the same time lead, encourage, and motivate them. Important to mention that it is a core of the successful project management.

In this post, we’ll explore what skills project manager must have to lead successful projects.


One of the critical skills for project management is the ability to communicate effectively – understanding and being understood. In academic and educational environment it is especially important since we are dealing with educated and knowledgeable people, but it makes communication process very difficult, and the Project manager needs a lot of patience and diplomatic skills to achieve the required results.

It is also important to maintain regular communication with all team members’ and clients to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The project manager needs to take very seriously his responsibility to convey vision, ideas, goals, project status, and issues to all stakeholders.

Effective communication plays important role in project team dynamics. Team issues such as attendance, morale, motivation, performance, productivity – all are linked to communication problems.

Negotiation skills

Project management reminds me a diplomatic mission. Project work often brings together people with competing interests, and project manager’s job is to align these different interests with the project objectives. Excellent negotiation skills are very needed when deciding on the instructional design for an online course. It requires finding a common ground among subject-matter experts, instructional designer, and media specialists. I must mention that negotiations are happening regularly during the entire project. The negotiation is successful when the compromise is found to accommodate interests of all parties involved.


Project manager’s leadership role means he leads and manages project teams by setting the vision, motivating, supporting, coaching, and inspiring team members’. Keeping high spirits, interest in the project work and effective collaboration are important factors which are leading to the success of the project.

Planning Skills

Project planning is a core project management skill; it reflects Project manager’s ability to schedule and organize tasks and assign resources needed to complete each task. When working on online course development projects, project planning starts when the online course specification is created and approved. It allows evaluating every task in terms of duration and the required skillset. Effective project plan defines what needs to be done in the project. I have to mention that the project plan is not “written in the stone”; it needs to be reviewed regularly because real project work always uncovers things which are impossible to predict during initial planning. Project plan adjustment – it is a normal procedure during project work.

Time Management

Time management needs to be looked from two perspectives:

  • Project managers allocate a big porting of their time talking to project team members’ how they should spend their time when working on project tasks.
  • How Project manager spends his time at work? it is necessary to distinguish between urgent tasks and important tasks. As we know, urgent tasks in most of the cases are not important – therefore Project manager needs to be selective when approaching different tasks.

Poor time management leads to stress, overload, and ineffective performance.

Risk Management

Good Risk management is an effective way of avoiding surprises during project work. Risk analysis should be conducted at the beginning of the project to identify and categorize risks and plan respective reactions. When developing online courses, the major risks are related to human resources, and these challenges need to be addressed as soon as possible by avoiding risk situations or applying effective mitigation techniques.

I have listed just some skills which are critically important to become an effective and successful Project managed. This list can be easily extended by adding other characteristics and skills.

Project manager’s job is challenging, demanding, interesting, and very important. We all are dealing with projects on every step of our life: building or renovating houses, starting a business, planning holidays, developing careers, or wedding parties. To make each our project a success story, it is important to have some basic project management knowledge and skills.

If you are interested to build some initial project management skills, I’d recommend Introduction to Project Management Principles and Practices Specialization offered by Coursera to start learning about Project management.
Master Project Management principles and practices from UCI. Enroll today!

Introduction to Project Management Principles and Practices Specialization

This specialization consists of four intensive and hands-on courses, and it gives learners the skills to ensure that projects deliver the products or services which are completed on time and on a budget, and meet the expectations of clients. These courses provide a strong working knowledge of the basics of project management, and learners are able to immediately use that knowledge to effectively manage work projects. On successful completion of the specialization, learners will be able:

  • to identify and manage the product scope,
  • build a work breakdown structure,
  • create a project plan,
  • create the project budget,
  • define and allocate resources,
  • manage the project development,
  • identify and manage risks, and
  • understand the project procurement process.

Duration: 4-6 weeks depending on the course

Created by: University of California

Level of studies: Beginners, no previous experience required

Learning Methods:

  • online text;
  • prerecorded videos;
  • quizzes;
  • projects;
  • peer reviews;
  • exercises;
  • case studies;
  • online lectures

Specialization courses

Course 1. Initiating and Planning Projects

In this course, learners explore the key roles and responsibilities of the project manager and project team. Learners identify key characteristics of the project, primary constraints, project scope, and main elements of the project plan.

Course 2. Budgeting and Scheduling Projects

in this course, learners study how to plan and stick to time and cost constraints in order to ensure the success of projects. The course provides skills required to identify resources needed for the project work, define milestones, and determine a critical path. Learners explore cost estimating techniques and define the components of a project’s quality management plan.

Course 3. Managing Project Risks and Changes

This course teaches how to manage project risks effectively. Learners identify, analyze, and communicate changes to project scope and objectives. The course introduces the practical elements to measure and report on project scope, schedule, and cost performance.

Course 4. Project Management Project

The capstone project allows learners to apply the knowledge they gained to the practice. Learners start the project by creating a project charter. Based on the project charter, they define the project, create the project schedule and the budget, identify risks and plan responses to the risks. The capstone project promotes cooperation among students by encouraging peer reviews during project work.

Benefits of the course

If you are planning to develop your career in the project management, this course is a good starting point. The course is also useful if you are interested to develop basic skills which will help you to organize your life, manage time, and assets in a better way. Click on the link below and join the online course.
Master Project Management principles and practices from UCI. Enroll today!

The skills you are gaining in this introductory course have important value and can be applied in different professional areas as well as in your personal life. I’d like to highlight just a few important benefits every learner can gain from the course.

Organization and Planning – The knowledge how to break down complex work assignments, plan respective activities and create schedules is an asset for any company.

Clearly Defined Scope – These skills are needed to define the content of the work assignment, and it is also useful when planning to conduct events or activities.

Budget and Cost Management skills are important for every person and can be effectively applied in different areas including household management.

Time Management – Every person needs such skills to manage a career, personal life, professional development, and social activities. In our busy lives, the effective time allocation and planning is a critical factor in a personal success.

Communication – critical skill which required in every workplace. It defines person’s ability to communicate effectively, to deliver the messages and to listen to others.

The Project management skills can be applied to different areas of professional and personal life make it better organized and efficient.


Project management is a complex discipline, and it requires dedicated training, certification, experience, and a wide range of skills. Each project is unique, and the experienced Project manager can always identify the specific features of every project. Managing online course development projects, I found that the critical success factors for these projects are communication, negotiation, and monitoring of the project progress. But project management skills can be successfully applied to any area including our personal life.
You can also explore other Project Management online courses offered by Coursera.
New Skills, New You: Transform your career in 2016 with Coursera

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4 thoughts on “Successful online course development project – How to achieve it?”

  1. In terms of management, I would say that time management, communication, and risk management are fairly important. Constant feedback from team members are important because you want to make sure that everybody is progressing at the same pace. If someone is left behind in the process, it would become a big issue. Time management is important because there are time limits to every project. As for risk management. Realizing mistakes that can be prevented is vital to any operation no matter how big or small.Of course, I only understand the superficial part of the theory. I bet the course you recommended offers a lot more in depth information. How long does it take to finish the whole course?

    1. Thank you very much for stopping by my post. Project Management is a very important skillset for any professional area. The course I recommend is developped by University of California, offered by Coursera and the total duration is 20 weeks for all 4 courses. If this time looks too long, you can take some courses independently.

      Thank you again for the comments.

  2. You have some very helpful and beneficial information on your post.I thought it was very handy the way you laid out all the how-to steps and then summed up the article by listing the benefits.
    You listed each step then went into detail about the step. You talked about what was required and why it was important.
    Then, like I said before you summed it up with the benefits which I personally thought it tied it all together.

    1. Thank you very much for your time and encouraging comments. I have managed several educational technology projects during my professional life, and I  feel like  sharing some of my experience. And I wanted to highlight that project management skills can be applied to any area.

      Thank you.

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