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Best Free Project Management Training Materials for IT Pros

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Project management skills are in high demand in nearly every IT specialty. Here's where to find the training you need, for free.

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockProject management and information technology (IT) have a complicated relationship. While it's not exactly a core subject for related academic curricula such as computer science, management information systems (MIS) and so forth, it's something that touches deeply and directly on most IT activities. That probably explains why project management certifications like the Project Management Institute's (PMI's) Project Management Professional (PMP) certification has comes out among the top 10 top-paying certifications of interest to IT professionals over the past decade.

Project management sits at the heart of much of IT activities, including system design and development, deployment or even maintenance. All of these routine activities can also be characterized as projects — some of massive scope and duration, others more quick and evanescent. And indeed, that's why project management skills and knowledge are in high demand among IT professionals in nearly every specialty and area of technical focus in that field.

MORE: Best IT Training

Given the incredible popularity and demand for project management skills and knowledge, it is no surprise that one can find commercial project management training courses to fit nearly every schedule and budget. That does not mean there aren't good choices available for free training, too.

We scoured to bring you the best free options around, and here you'll also get pointers to some very good low cost offerings as well. Don't forget, many colleges and universities offer courses aimed at the PMP and related PMI certifications (such as Certified Associate in Project Management, or CAPM, PMP add-ons for portfolio and program management, plus other credentials for risk management, scheduling and more). These courses cost the same as other college courses and are taught in similar fashion, which puts them halfway between low-cost/no-cost options, and short-term intensive courses from traditional training outlets (such as Global Knowledge, New Horizons and Learning Tree, for example).

The Best of Free PMP Training: MOOCs and More

An online education phenomenon is reshaping the training landscape as we know it. It's based on free online training courses called MOOCs, short for Massively Online Open Courses. These are based on open, high-volume, high-capacity cloud-based training platforms such as edX, moodle, COURSEsites, Udemy and versal, among others. While monetization of training is possible on some of these platforms, by definition, a MOOC is supposed to be free for the taking. Organizations or institutions that offer such free courses can still ask for fees for testing, certificates of completion, and other add-ons or nice-to-haves, but the basic course material is free to all interested parties. Here's a short list of some of the best of those offerings:

  1. Cybrary Course CYB-2010: Project Management Professional
    Professional instructor Vincent McKeown delivers a 10-module series of video lectures, each of which maps to a domain in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) for the PMI PMP certification. At 5:16 in length, the course is not incredibly detailed or extensive, but it does provide a useful orientation for those just getting started on the subject matter.
  2. ALISON: Diploma in Project Management
    With more than 284,000 students having either taken or now taking this course, this MOOC has seen some serious traction to mostly positive reviews. With 28 modules, including about a dozen case studies for analysis and review, it takes from 6 to 10 hours to complete this course of study. While it does not map directly to the PMP or other project management credentials, it does provide a useful introduction to the subject matter.
  3. Other ALISON courses on Project Management: as full-fledged MOOC delivery platform, ALISON offers a page called Online Project Management Courses as part of its "Courses by Subject" listings. In addition to the previous diploma item, it lists nine other courses in project management, including additional offerings from XSIQ (maker of the diploma item, two fundamentals in English and Arabic), the Saylor Foundation (five courses, including another diploma sequence, an introduction, and topics on working with clients and project teams, managing project start-up, scheduling and budgeting, and quality, risk, procurement and project closeout) and OpenLearn (PM – Project feasibility and life cycle). Enrollments for these courses range from a high of 40,364 (XSIQ intro) to a low of 3,644 (OpenLearn).
  4. Udemy courses are not always or even often free, but they're very close. A search on "project management" at udemy.com produces more than 2,000 courses, of which perhaps 500 are truly relevant to people interested in some facet of project management, and all of which cost between $20 and $50 each. A search on "PMP" produces 140 free courses, plus more than 2,100 paid courses in English; narrowing the scope to "PMP '35 contact hours'" (the PMI's requirement to meet minimum classroom time requirements for authorized PMP training) produces 60 offerings that range from $0 to $50 in cost. You'll spend a lot time fiddling with their search engine to find what you want, but there are plenty of choices here.
  5. edX.org gets its project management courses via Microsoft these days. Despite a huge catalog of offerings, the only project management courses I can currently find there relate to Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Portfolio Management (PPM).
  6. MIT Open Courseware pops up 33 hits on "project management" but none for PMP. The results show a profound focus on engineering and business management topics. Nevertheless, there's a lot of interesting stuff here, well worth trolling through for those in search of top-notch offerings.
  7. The University of Washington offers a free short course called Introduction to Project Management, as a teaser to its for-a-fee Project Management Certificate program. It qualifies as another good basic introduction to the subject matter.
  8. ProjectManager.com offers more than 100 training videos on all kinds of project management topics. You'll need some time and will power to stitch a curriculum together here, but there's lots of good material available.
  9. YouTube is rife with project management training videos, too. Probably the best of these is Dr. Jimmie Flores' massive "free PMP Certification Training Program," though somewhat dated with a 2011 release. Searches at YouTube for "project management" or "PMP" produce hundreds of thousands of hits.
  10. The MOOC List is a website that offers consolidated search for offerings available in the next 30 days (most courses are offered with specific starting dates, so this engine points only to relevant courses starting in the near term). Here, a search on "project management" produces over 500 hits, including listings for a variety of MOOC platforms. Interestingly, their search engine does a better job of finding relevant courses at edX than does the native search engine. It finds 20 offerings in total, over half of which are in English, and most of which are truly germane to those seeking free training. Use this tool! Listings for other MOOC platforms include Open2Study, ApnaCourse and Coursera.

Low-Cost Stuff Also Offers Some Gems, Too

I've already mentioned Udemy as a source for low-cost ($20 to 50) project management training offerings in great variety and profusion. Coursera came in for mention in our discussion of the MOOC List (item 10 in the preceding list): most of their courses go for $49, and multi-course bundles are also available (such as UC Irvine's Introduction to Project Management Principles and Practices). The Master of Project Academy offers an appealing $99/month deal for materials that cover the following raft of project management certifications: PMI CAPM and PMP, Agile Scrum, ITIL Foundation, Cisco CCNA and Microsoft Project. The quicker you finish up, the less you pay.

What About Higher-Priced Offerings?

Hundreds to thousands of other offerings for project management training at higher costs are readily available around the globe. For PMP or other PMI certifications, there's a whole network of partners who teach an official curriculum. Some are in academia, others offer purely commercial courses. All of the biggest training companies offer PMP and related certification training, as do the major online training players (Lynda.com, Simplilearn, Pluralsight and so forth).

Where to from Here?

Start digging into the outlets and offerings that interest you most. The great thing about free training is the only thing you have to lose is your time and energy, so you can try things out and pull the plug if they don't work for you at any time. For any kind of for-a-fee training, I recommend looking for online reviews and feedback to help guide you to the cream of the crop.

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