Scope/Sequence - Project Planning - Student Choice

Overview: I have been trying to push control and responsibility for projects to the scholar teams. This is not working well for me currently. Here are some of my ideas, but first some background.

I see my scholars once per week on Zoom, typically either for 45 minutes or for 90 minutes. The majority of my scholars rarely work outside class time. I have a significant number of classes missing class meaning I see them only once or twice a month.

What I Tried: I built a template schedule using a table in Google Docs showing each class session and its length. I identified the phases of the project with recommended time periods. I asked the teams to start filling out the table with activities and adjust the phase dates to meet their needs.

What I Think I Need: A very basic Gantt chart tool that allows the scholars to drag and drop Pactful activities and define dependencies and assign tasks for the team done in the framework of a facilitator provided schedule. The tasks would be color code for the phases to outline what work should be taken place and progress bars would show how work completed.

Additionally: I would like a built in journalling feature so that scholars could report on what was done by the team during class session.

I’ll try to mock up some simple diagrams.

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So based on the Zoom meeting, facilitators should be able to lock down deadlines if they choose.

Stephen,
Thanks for your suggestions. I was not familiar with Gantt charts but found that Lucidchart has some great templates which are freemium for education. https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/templates/education

I am going to try to put something together as well to see if it might work for my teams. I will let you know what I find out and how far down a Gantt chart rabbit hole I fall.

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Stephen, thank you for writing this up. Before I start jumping to potential solutions, I want to ask a few additional questions.

  1. Can you share an example of what you tried? I think I have a mental model but if you already have one, that would help.
  2. What would happen if you just told scholars that they had to complete one Pactful activity, as a group, per week?
  3. What do you mean by “define dependence” in the activities?
  4. Since I know you’ve done this successfully in the past, what’s different now? “Just” that it’s via Zoom or is there something else? How did you manage the workload, expectation, and communication with scholars in the past?
  5. Can you explain what you mean by your follow-up comment: “So based on the Zoom meeting, facilitators should be able to lock down deadlines if they choose”?

I definitely have some thoughts on the journaling thing as we discussed yesterday, so I’ll be back in touch on that aspect, but I wanted to get the above questions/conversations started.

After using Lucid Chart for a while I decided it was more than what I had the time or need for. I did find a Google Spreadsheet template and adjusted it to work or at least I think it will. It is a manual entry one although there were others with programmed functions that were pretty neat. This is the manual one I made.

The Team Gantt Template with 3 types of Gantt charts from is here with my changes added to it.

TeamGantt is where I found the template.

Not sure if this will serve as an idea or model of what you were talking about Stephen. I am using the manual one with my teams to see if it will help me nudge them and guide them and myself on time and project management.
Karl

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  1. Can you share an example of what you tried? I think I have a mental model but if you already have one, that would help.

Yes, but please don’t judge me too harshly, not my best work: Design Thinking Semester 1 Wrap Up - Google Docs

  1. What would happen if you just told scholars that they had to complete one Pactful activity, as a group, per week?

This is what I am doing currently but the problem is that it’s not scholar driven. They don’t get a big picture or have rails for understanding what task to pick. I want them to have a self created map that says, “We need to do more … so we can move on to …”

Ideally this is done by having tasks that complete phases. “We have enough research, let’s make sense of it.” inside of a time frame, “We need to complete research this week so we can schedule interviews before break.”

  1. What do you mean by “define dependence” in the activities?

This is a bit odd in the context of non-linear but, I can’t create a persona or journey map until I’ve completed the interviews. I can’t really understand a need until I’ve made sense of my research. What needs to be done before I can move on to this task.

  1. Since I know you’ve done this successfully in the past, what’s different now? “Just” that it’s via Zoom or is there something else? How did you manage the workload, expectation, and communication with scholars in the past?

In the past I said, today we will do this activity. Tomorrow we will do this other activity. Scholars lacked voice and choice, had to work linearly and lacked a big picture.

  1. Can you explain what you mean by your follow-up comment: “So based on the Zoom meeting, facilitators should be able to lock down deadlines if they choose”?

I may say that interviews have to be completed before the end of semester 1. Or that scholars must complete prototyping by a certain data so they can start work on their pitch. I want them to be able to move pieces around and adjust as they go, but I want to be able to hold them accountable for completing everything and doing it on time.

This is aligned with what I was trying to do. I was actually trying to make it even more simple.

The flaws with this for me is that it looks like curriculum. I say what we are going to do, what day we are going to do and if it doesn’t fit your project, “tough noogies”. Long term I’m hoping for something that is more flexible.

I also want teams to be able to hold members accountable and report on what each member actually contributed. At the end of the project I should be able to see who was working and who was coasting. Finally it gives the team visual feedback so they can assign critical path tasks to members who will actually complete them on time.

I agree that it feels like I am still driving the process. My hope is that I could even take out the dates and have them add them add in dates which would be a step. It would be great if we could get something like this inside of Pactful as something teams set up at the start or as a planning document. I like the idea of getting visual feedback on effort, pace, completion, and other aspects. Collaborative projects like this are more challenging when we put the students in charge.

I have reflected on these ideas a lot and hope that we can consider some planning-type features within Pactful in the future. When we created Pactful, we made intentional decisions to keep the app fairly flexible in terms of which activities to complete, leaning on teachers to guide students appropriately. But I understand that trying to organize that effort—and couple it with deadlines and grades—is challenging.

I appreciate what you provided in your wrap-up assignment. I can envision us trying to add some planning features in the future, but those would likely come behind other efforts. For example, we don’t actually associate the uploaded evidence—from the Documentation step—with the specific activity/ies they completed, though they are often associated from the file names since they may have come from templates within the system.