First Worldwide Project Management

Distance Learning Course



By Bob Youker

World Bank (retired)

Maryland, USA



Most afternoons at about 5:00 p.m. I switch on the computer in my study and connect via a modem into the Dialcom electronic mail network.  There in my “mailbox” are “messages” from around the world from students in the first worldwide distance learning course on project management. After reviewing the material, I send comments and answers by electronic mail directly back to the students.  We know each other quite well now after several months of the course and regular telephone conference calls.

An innovative program to train telecommunications project managers in Africa, Asia and Latin America through distance learning is being sponsored by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Center for Telecommunication Development (CTD) through a contract with Telecom/Telematique International (T/TI), a Washington, DC firm specializing in instructional telecom consulting. The pilot semester length course in Project Management for Telecommunication began in the Fall of 1989. Teams from the Telecom companies remain on the job while participating in the global electronic classroom with counterparts in other countries.  The faculty include staff from the World Bank and other experts in training project managers and telecom engineers in developing countries.  The curriculum builds on World Bank EDI (Economic Development Institute) courses.  The design of the course is similar to one I teach in the Masters Program in Engineering Administration at George Washington University.

Tools, techniques and theory of project management taught include modules on the project life cycle, work breakdown structure, scheduling and control, CPM, risk and uncertainty, and start-up and transition to operations.  Segments on project accounting include modules on project estimating and budgeting, cost control, reporting and MIS, and project control.  Management modules, procurement, negotiation, and contractor cost control are also taught.

This interactive, electronic classroom is delivered to each country through packet-switch network computer conferencing, together with video and audio teleconferencing. The computer conferencing is interactive, flexible and asynchronous.  Teams of participants from each company can meet, watch video tape lectures and assignments, respond, comment and ask questions at the time most convenient to them, their work schedules and their time zones.


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Editor’s note: This paper was written in 1990 for a PMI conference, but was never presented or published.  The author thinks it was the first worldwide distance learning course on project management.  Long before email became popular, the course was developed with the International Telephone Union (ITU) for telecommunications project managers in many countries.  It’s a little bit of newly discovered project management history.

How to cite this paper: Youker, R. (1990); First Worldwide Project Management Distance Learning Course; paper written for a PMI Seminar/Symposium in 1990 but never presented; PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue X, November 2019.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/pmwj87-Nov2019-Youker-first-worldwide-project-management-disatnce-learning.pdf



About the Author

Robert Youker

World Bank (retired)




Robert (Bob) Youker is an independent trainer and consultant in Project Management with more than forty years of experience in the field.  He is retired from the World Bank where he developed and presented six-week project management training courses for the managers of major projects in many different countries. He served as the technical author for the bank on the Instructors Resource Kit on CD ROM for a five-week training course on Managing the Implementation of Development Projects.  He has written and presented more than a dozen papers at the Project Management Institute and the International Project Management Association (Europe) conferences many of which have been reprinted in the Project Management Institute publications and the International Journal of Project Management (UK).

Mr. Youker is a graduate of Colgate University and the Harvard Business School and studied for a doctorate in behavioral science at George Washington University.  His project management experience includes new product development at Xerox Corporation and project management consulting for many companies as President of Planalog Management Systems from 1968 to 1975.  He has taught in Project Management Courses for AMA, AMR, AED, ILI, ILO, UCLA, University of Wisconsin, George Washington University, the Asian Development Bank and many other organizations. He developed and presented the first Project Management courses in Pakistan, Turkey, China and across Africa for the World Bank.

A few years ago Mr. Youker conducted Project Management training in Amman, Jordan financed by the European Union for 75 high level civil servants from Iraq who implemented the first four World Bank projects in Iraq. He is a former Director of PMI, IPMA and asapm, the USA member organization of IPMA. Most recently he has been consulting for the US Government Millennium Challenge Corporation on project management training in Africa.  Bob can be contacted at bobyouker@att.net

To view other works by Bob Youker, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/robert-bob-youker/