Project Management Trainer of the Future: Guide on the Side?
Experts in their own field
New potential and creativity
Inverted classroom as a concept for project management training and coaching
Behind this rather unwieldy title lies an extremely worthwhile read for project management trainers. Although this work was researched (as usual) in a university context, looking at young students and their motivation to learn, there are many good insights and suggestions for adult educators working in the workplace with professionals aged 30-45. Rink's research interest was to examine self-directed learning in the context of Ryan and Deci's self-determination theory. She analysed six engineering courses at a university of applied sciences in a very broad methodological framework using participant observation and guided interviews. Unfortunately, such a qualitative approach is still rather the exception in the field of empirical educational research; standardised quantitative methods predominate. However, Rink wanted to explore the motivational situations and justification patterns of self-directed learning, and this serves the study well.
The concept of the inverted classroom is not entirely new and has already received some academic attention in the field of project management , but has received a significant boost from Covid. The core idea is to turn traditional teaching and learning behaviour on its head: unlike in schools or many universities, the "learners" come together for a face-to-face phase only after a preparatory phase in which they work on the basics themselves, mostly online, with the help of digital learning tools (videos, audio files, scripts, texts, etc.) and on their own responsibility. The "teachers" have to break new ground: they first provide suitable learning materials. Then, during the attendance phase, they act as facilitators of the learning process, helping learners to deepen their knowledge, solve problems, apply what they have learned and answer questions.
This is not fundamentally new to project management trainers; according to Peter Sloterdijk, a trainer "wants you to want", and participant activation has always been an issue. However, based on a wide range of empirical material, Rink shows how such an explicit role as a "guide on the side" is suitable for promoting the self-determination process in learners. Her findings support the concept of self-determination theory, which sees 'competence', 'autonomy' and 'social integration' as the pillars of individual motivation. Self-directed learning has a positive effect on all these factors. Anyone who wants to be successful in designing the project management training courses of the future is strongly advised to refer to these factors for success and is encouraged to set up inverted classroom concepts.
Shortcomings of a learner-centred approach
On the other hand, (3) there is a need for teachers to develop good learning materials before the seminar and also to be involved in the digital production of such materials. This is not easy for many, especially if their own digital skills are lower than those of the learners. According to Rink, it is particularly important to have (4) developed and continuous feedback, which teachers have to provide and which takes a lot of time. Many teachers need to rethink, to organise guidance instead of just 'demonstrating', and generally to get out of the frontal position of traditional teaching. According to Rink, the days of the "sage on the stage" are probably over for good.
Cross references for project management trainers
In the future, however, it will be particularly worthwhile to investigate training practice in the field of commercial adult education, in company training courses and open courses, which have traditionally tended to be averse to scientific research. Then it will be necessary to clarify how far self-determination really extends when there are strict examination requirements and high expectations of success on the part of the company for the learner.
It is to be hoped that Marion Rink's work will help to build a bridge to new research, as she herself eventually became a certified project manager in the IT industry.
 Hartmut Rosa
 Bielefeld: WBV, 204 pages, 2021 = Sozialwissenschaften heute, Vol.7, ISBN 978-3-7639-6643-1
 Ingason/Gudmundsson, 2018 or Abushammala, 2018