I am taking a course called Maximising IS/IT Team Effectiveness at Villanova University. This is Week 1, and I am overwhelmed.
When I log in, I see messages, documents, and entries to my class roster. I am unable to make the video lectures work despite reading the help files and running a browser check application. Finally, I give up and download the videos. If I was not feeling behind, I could have contacted university’s tech support team. However, I feel I am already behind on the course material so downloading it is the best option.
Villanova has sent me the videos via a link on the web (which doesn’t work for me), as well as downloads and on a CD which arrived in my mailbox two weeks ago. I was also given a workbook containing all the slides as well as a copy of IT Leadership Alchemy by Lou Russell and Jeff Feldman. Finally, I received a small, lined, exercise manual that I hadn’t used since I turned 16. It makes me feel like I’ve returned to school.
An online course
The course is 100% online, so I can complete it from London at my own time and place. Even though I don’t have to speak to my tutors, it seems absurd not to have the opportunity to interact with them. The Villanova chat room’s weekly online discussions start at 1.30 AM UK Time. Even though I work late into evenings, I usually go to sleep by that time. Next week, transcripts will be available. They will be available next week.
Multiple choice online tests can be used to evaluate the course. These tests give an indication of the difficulty of the lectures and course material. I pass the first test, even though I have never listened to or read any lectures. I fail. This is a good sign. This is a good sign.
The lectures
Lou Russell, coauthor and co-author of Alchemy, will give the lectures. This week, there are five. I downloaded the videos but was unable to determine how long they lasted. The welcome video to the course is only 8 minutes long. This is a positive sign. I didn’t think I would be able spend hours on my computer watching videos.
Lou gives a video lecture. Lou is very approachable and engaging. She explains the fundamental concepts and beliefs that make leaders and sets the stage for the lessons to come. The course includes:
How to manage your personal style
Management of others: Influencing, communicating and managing
Management of groups of people within a group
You can manage stakeholders outside of the project’s borders with stakeholder management

Grace Hopper is mentioned in the article as an IS/IT leader. A company that laid off a staff person by text message while he was at a conference is also mentioned as an example of how it can be avoided. She believes that IT leadership is about recognizing the potential that exists already. This is not the same as fixing people who are broken or bad.
Lou walks me through exercises and then asks me to stop the video so I can find the answers. Lou then walks me through the solution. This week’s course focuses on developing my leadership style. We also do a self-assessment. I have a variety of styles and it is difficult to be classified.
Disclosure: Villanova granted me access to the course in exchange for writing about it.