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Group Break-outs for IT Project Management

11 February 2016

Just the other day I shared some teaching resolutions of mine, but deep down I never knew how they would turn out if I put them in practice. I handled my first class yesterday – a level 300 BSc ICT class – in IT Project Management. I met some of them last semester, so they did not need to make and place name cards on their tables as I now would if I met an entirely new class.

My course introduction was interleaved with shots of meta-cognitive theory – I made some confessions about how my end-of-semester exams should not have been multiple choice questions. I also gave the a URL for them to take a learning style survey before the next class – so that I can make suitable changes to my teaching methods.

Then nervousness set in; my first time breaking students into groups in class! There were exactly 30 students, so I had six groups of five each. Each group was to select a leader/scribe, and start discussing what that leader could do if (s)he were a nation’s president in an election year. It may not be the best question to introduce learners to the concept of projects and project management but that is what came to mind so…! I made them switch to another question after 10 minutes; “you are a company CEO! You want to take advantage of e-commerce, what do you do?

OMG, the responses were awesome. The responses to the first scenario was typical of African incumbent governments; build roads, reduce tariffs, implement free education and agricultural subsidies. Those to the second scenario were scattered, but one similar point across the groups was to build a [/an e-commerce] website. So I described such as an example of IT projects. But what makes it a project? I showed four statements, and asked each group to pick one and give reasons why it describes a project or not. One group said the statement depicts cost and time – so a project needs these two things. I hinted of a third, but it wasn’t forthcoming so I set a third group task. One group came up with location, another objective, another goal, another human resource, another scope. I guided the class to confirm that truly scope was the third – as was may be objective and goal, but certainly not location.

Such was the tone of the class – group activity, and in the end a summary and evaluation based on the lesson’s objectives. Then I walked them through how to access the course website, and to expect tea in the next class – they wanted to bring frying pan to prepare egg sandwich in addition [very funny]. I will collect some feedback about the teaching method next week, but there is a part in a reflection log which they have to complete on the course site. I am expecting some interesting comments, but I sure believe what one learner told me on the corridor on my way home that..

… that was a great class!



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