Due to various facts I forgot to post some conclusions to my attempts to teach digital skills by killing off lectures and seminars for my project management module. Part 1 and 2 discussed in detail how it worked.
This post is a following up to:
Part 1): I got bored of lecturing so I quit.
Go and read the previous posts or this makes little sense.
So how did it all end?
Student activity and interest remained high all the way through the module and the feedback was excellent (which is always good to hear). Not a single student asked in their feedback for lectures to return.
- The group tasked to produce an Enterprise App turned into a solid report and a demo that we are now taking forward as a University to produce a full-blown app which we hope to have ready for September 2017.
- The group who were asked to produce a OER textbook also did an excellent job and I plan to use their text with my finalist strategy class in the 2016/2017 academic year.
If I was going to make a tweak to the module, I might actually break the two larger groups down into two smaller groups so students have more choice in projects. I might also see if I can get some of this year’s class to come back and spend a few hours as advisers for the next class to take the module.
In fact the whole thing has been so successful that I don’t plan to have any significant changes for the next year and indeed am currently looking at ways to spin out the student think-tank into a ongoing social enterprise. The module would act as the ‘training’ for the social enterprise and students would then work for external clients on larger scale projects.
All the way through the biggest challenge has been for me to simply stand back and let the students get on with it and make their own decisions. I ended up making a lot of tea, eating a lot of biscuits but never had to step in to ‘save’ a failing project. My key aim therefore of skills and academic development via getting out of the way has been achieved.
Besides the specific module goals there has been a good mixture of digital skills development in here.
Jisc talk about developing digital literacy to support digital practices and we can see it below in this diagram:
Digital capabilities needed to work and live in a digital society – taken from: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-students-digital-literacy This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND
So how did the students develop in any of these areas?
Communication and collaboration
I had actually paid for some professional project management software. Both groups of students quickly established that it wasn’t fit for purpose for the management of their projects. Independently, they assessed different options and settled on a mixture of google docs (production), slack and some Facebook (co-ordination/collaboration). Most communication moved from email to the use of real-time editing using google documents.
Digital creation innovation and scholarship
One of the hot topics in digital creation is the small matter of IPR. I did have to give both student groups a little prompt about the various levels of copyright protection a work might or might not have. As a result of this, the student groups for both the enterprise app and the textbook had to start thinking carefully – what are the resource and time implications of gathering and remixing content under a creative commons or other license or simply creating bespoke content.
Digital learning and Self-development
This in many respects was the most interesting aspect of their digital skills development. In both groups, students self-organised into vital roles – roles that the students themselves had never occupied before but identified as vital. For example – who was going to manage and allocate project hours? Who’s job was in a group to check the copyright status of material that could used?
Overall – I think the fundamental message I took from this is the same idea I started with – provide a solid framework but get out of the way.