Converting to Online Teaching

A series of short guidance articles for educators and institutions


Introduction to the Series



By John Cable, Director

Project Management Center for Excellence
A. James Clark School of Engineering
University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland, USA



Since erupting in China in December 2019, the Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease has spread worldwide to become the most serious international pandemic since the Spanish Flu in 1918. Following devastating outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and other countries earlier in the year, the disease reached the United States in late January 2020.  As infections began to spread rapidly, various city and state leaders took action, issuing stay-at-home orders, shutting down businesses and services, and accelerating various containment strategies.  By early March 2020, a nation-wide emergency was in full swing.

Schools were some of the first activities to shut down in order to control the spread of the virus. Some U.S. universities were early to recognize the risks and to react, closing campuses, sending students home and converting courses to online instruction.  On March 12, 2020, the University of Maryland (UMD) shut down for three weeks; that closure was extended on March 30th through the end of the current semester, with many courses converted to virtual versions. (There is still some uncertainty as to whether the campus will reopen for the Fall Semester in late August). The UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Project Management Center for Excellence were no exceptions. We are now conducting all courses online. In addition, our annual Project Management Symposium scheduled for 7-8 May 2020 has also been converted to a virtual event.

Fortunately, we have been developing and conducting virtual courses and training activities since 2006, with full videoconferencing capabilities, and easily made the switch to all online courses in a relatively short amount of time. It occurred to me that it might be useful to share some of the guidelines and processes that we have developed over the last fourteen years for our faculty, guest instructors and staff for converting to teaching online. Since we have partnered with the PM World Journal (PMWJ) for many years, it was an obvious vehicle for sharing this information.

Over the next several months, a series of short articles in the PMWJ will provide guidance on how to convert to virtual teaching, create and conduct videoconferences, and implement blended learning experiences, based on our experiences at UMD. But first, some additional background.



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Editor’s note: This series of articles by the Director of the University of Maryland’s Project Management Center for Excellence provides information and advice for converting from traditional in-person classes to online teaching, based on their experience before and during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. See Professor Cable’s background at the end of this article.

How to cite this paper: How to cite this paper: Cable, J. H. (2020). Converting to Online Teaching: A series of short guidance articles for educators and institutions – Introduction, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue V, May. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/pmwj93-May2020-Cable-converting-to-teaching-online-1-introduction.pdf



About the Author


John Cable

Director, Project Management Center for Excellence
University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA



John Cable is Director of the Project Management Center for Excellence in the A.James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, where he is also a professor and teacher of several graduate courses in project management. His program at the University of Maryland offers masters and PhD level programs focused on project management. With more than 1,300 seats filled annually with students from many countries, including more than 40 PhD students, the program is the largest graduate program in project management at a major university in the United States.

John Cable served in the newly formed U.S. Department of Energy in 1980, where he was involved with developing energy standards for buildings, methods for measuring energy consumption, and managing primary research in energy conservation.  As an architect and builder, Mr. Cable founded and led John Cable Associates in 1984, a design build firm. In 1999 he was recruited by the University of Maryland’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering to create and manage a graduate program in project management. In his role as founder and director of the Project Management Center for Excellence at Maryland, the program has grown to offer an undergraduate minor, master’s degrees, and a doctoral program. Information about the Project Management Center for Project Management at the University of Maryland can be found at www.pm.umd.edu.

In 2002, PMI formed the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Educational Programs (GAC).  Mr. Cable was appointed to that inaugural board where he served as vice chair.  In 2006, he was elected as chairman, a role he held through 2012.  As Chair of the PMI GAC, John led the accreditation of 86 project management educational programs at 40 institutions in 15 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia Pacific Region. John was awarded PMI’s 2012 Distinguished Contribution Award for his leadership at the GAC.  He can be contacted at jcable@umd.edu.

To view other works by John Cable, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/john-cable/




  1. […] This article appeared in PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue 5, May 2020. […]