Teaching and Learning Forum 99 [ Contents ]

Developing a groupwork oriented online unit on interactive multimedia project management

Rob Phillips, Teaching and Learning Centre
Murdoch University
and
Joe Luca, School of Communications and Multimedia
Edith Cowan University
Students undertaking the interactive multimedia project management unit in the School of Communications and Multimedia are in the final year of their studies at either undergraduate or graduate level (Interactive Multimedia Technologies) at Edith Cowan University. The unit seeks to teach project management skills through classroom sessions and the concurrent development of a group based web project. This paper discusses the issues involved in developing this unit for online delivery in semester 1, 1999. The process attempts to reproduce most aspects of face to face delivery using the WebCT course management system. The implementation of this course design using WebCT is the focus of this paper.

Background

Final year undergraduate/postgraduate students in the Interactive Multimedia course at Edith Cowan University are required to develop skills in project management methodologies in the unit IMM3202/4201. Students learn about a range of project management methodologies in a formal setting, and put these skills to practice in the creation of a team based Web product that also consolidates multimedia skills learnt in other units. Students select a project topic that is based on a project management principle. For example, they may choose to develop a Web site on legal issues, costing, testing, team issues, project management models, etc. Examples of student work can be seen at http://malt.ed.ac.cowan.edu.au/projects/

The objectives of the unit are as follows:

In traditional format, the unit consists of thirteeen 3-hour class sessions, as shown in Table 1. In the first nine sessions, students are given a lecture, which is followed by a group based activity. Team skills and collaboration are continually promoted and reinforced throughout the unit. Teams of approximately four students are formed to develop a Web based product, in which students must develop project management and communication skills and testing and quality assurance systems.

Table 1: Unit syllabus

Week No.ContentAssessment
1Project Models, Review the Literature
2Project Management Methodology
3Needs Definition, Category Names and QA Issues
4Planning, Tracking, GANTT charts, Costing and Project diary
5Legal issues
6Design, specification and prototypeAssignment 1 due
3 WEEK BREAK
7Development Cycle and QAAssignment 2 due
8QA and Standards
9Handover
10Team Based Development
11Team Based Development
12Team Based Development
13Project PresentationsAssignment 3 due

There are 3 assignments: the "Analysis and Plan" worth 30 marks, the "Design" worth 35 marks and the "Final Product" worth 35 marks. Each of the assignments contains four marking components:

Adapting to the online environment

The incentive for the initiative described here was the decision by the former School of Multimedia and Learning Technologies to provide the Graduate Diploma Interactive Multimedia course in external mode. Four units had been developed in print based mode in 1997, with online and CD based materials as an adjunct, and IMM3202/4201 was required to be developed in 1998.

There were obvious difficulties in trying to replicate the project based and groupwork aspects of this course by traditional, print based distance education means. However, our review of the literature indicated that it was possible to duplicate, to a large extent, the on campus experience for external students, using collaboration and communication tools available on the Internet ie. bulletin boards and chat facilities.

The course we designed was driven by collaborative activities which encourage students to present, discuss, summarise and reflect on project management issues on a week by week basis. The activities were supported by a print based "Plan", "Guide" and "Reader". A decision was made to limit the amount of online text as much as possible, and while there is a textual component to each online module, the text is generally quite brief, and simply summarises the topic and points students to other resources.

We analysed the needs of the unit and developed a set of functionality requirements, shown in Table 2. We then looked at a range of online course management systems to see which could meet our requirements. We found that WebCT had all of the required features available, and thus we adopted WebCT as the course delivery system.

Table 2: Functionality requirements of the online unit

Content based Asynchronous communication
Online course materials
Ability for students to record their own notes
Links to external sites
Ability for students to add to the resource site
General discussion fora, which can be created for sub-groups and for specific time periods
Tracking of student contributions to discussions
Group management and the establishment of shared group area
Student oriented Synchronous communication
Student presentation areas
Group presentation area
Student homepage area
Online submission of assignments
Synchronous communication facility (eg chat)
Shared electronic whiteboard for specific project work

Implementation of the online course

In semester 1, 1999 the unit will be delivered online using WebCT, with the following features: Table 3 shows part of the unit syllabus. It illustrates how the course is structured around the concept of online activities. The tutors will model the first week's online seminar activity, so that students know what to do in subsequent weeks. Activity 2.1 is as follows:
This week your lecturer(s) will demonstrate the type of discussion required of each of you in subsequent weeks, by posting a discussion paper on Project Management models and Life Cycles to the week 2 forum. Please read the lecturer's contribution and ask questions and make comments about it. Bear the following question in mind when you are constructing your responses: Why do you need Project Management Models? At the end of the week the lecturer will post a synopsis of the week's discussion.
Table 3: Excerpt from the IMM 3202/4201 Unit Outline for Semester 1, 1999

WeekTopicActivities Act.DayWho
1Introduction to project management course and WebCT. All students online with accounts.
  • WebCT tutorial
  • IMM 4201 web site access and post message to week 1 forum
  • Publish personal Web page
  • Fill out online questionnaire on student skills
  • Task group allocations
  • 1.1
    1.2

    1.3
    1.4

    M
    M

    M
    M

    M

    All
    All

    All
    All

    Tutor

    2What is project management?
  • Assign project teams and project topics
  • Post message to week 2 forum about "What is project management?"
  • Submit URL on project management
  • Online discussions on posted topic
  • Post synopsis
  • 2.1

    2.2

    2.1

    2.1

    M

    M

    M-F

    Tu-Th
    F

    Tutor

    Tutor

    All

    All
    Tutor

    3 Team issues, timesheet categories, project diary and basic quality assurance
  • Summary paper post to week 3 forum
  • Post messages to week 3 forum about "What is a script?"
  • Fill in team style questionnaire
  • Produce team communication standards
  • Email team procedures to lecturer
  • Online discussions on posted topic
  • Post synopsis
  • 3.4

    3.1

    3.2
    3.3

    3.3
    3.4
    3.4

    M

    M

    M
    M-F

    F
    Tu-Th
    F

    Grp 1

    All

    All
    All

    Teams
    All
    Grp 5

    Notice that students are required to contribute to the discussion and that a synopsis will be given at the end of the week. In following weeks, a student task team will prepare and present the online seminar in a similar fashion, and answer questions posted by other individual students and lecturers. Another student task team will be responsible for compiling a synopsis of the week's comments as shown for activity 3.4 below:

    Task Group 1 is to write a short summary paper on group decision making techniques, to be posted on Monday to the week 2 forum. All other students are expected to contribute their experiences and observations on this topic. Task Group 5 moderates the discussion and posts a final synopsis on Friday morning.
    Each student task team will be required to present an online seminar and a synopsis (which occur in different weeks). It is important to note that the student task teams presenting the lecture are different to the project teams developing the multimedia product. This illustrates the continual reinforcement of collaboration and teamwork that is promoted in the unit.

    There is a rich component of assessment in the online unit. The following components, which exist in each of the three assignments, are used to assess the students:

    Summary

    This paper has described the process of designing an online unit supporting groupwork in learning project management methodologies for interactive multimedia. The most important factor in the design was the creation of student centred online activities which promote discussion and reflection. Time will tell how students react to the new environment, and ongoing formative evaluation will be used to identify future improvements to the unit.

    Please cite as: Phillips, R. and Luca, J. (1999). Developing a groupwork oriented online unit on interactive multimedia project management. In K. Martin, N. Stanley and N. Davison (Eds), Teaching in the Disciplines/ Learning in Context, 327-331. Proceedings of the 8th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, The University of Western Australia, February 1999. Perth: UWA. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf1999/phillips.html


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