Teaching and Learning Forum 99 [ Contents ]
Developing a groupwork oriented online unit on interactive multimedia project management
Rob Phillips, Teaching and Learning Centre
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.
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
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
- to apply a range of project management skills appropriate to multimedia projects, including project management models, needs analysis, design issues, storyboards, concept maps, formative and summative evaluation, legal issues and copyright/intellectual property issues, to develop a Web based product with full documentation;
- to use team and client collaboration skills to develop the product in a efficient manner;
- to make a significant contribution to a team based multimedia development project;
- to use planning and design tools such as storyboarding, concept maps and prototyping;
- to apply formative evaluation methodologies to multimedia products;
- to demonstrate an understanding of the nature of the specialist roles of instructional designers, content experts, computer programmers, graphics designers, project managers, "evaluators", and others.
|1||Project Models, Review the Literature|
|2||Project Management Methodology|
|3||Needs Definition, Category Names and QA Issues|
|4||Planning, Tracking, GANTT charts, Costing and Project diary|
|6||Design, specification and prototype||Assignment 1 due|
|3 WEEK BREAK|
|7||Development Cycle and QA||Assignment 2 due|
|8||QA and Standards|
|10||Team Based Development|
|11||Team Based Development|
|12||Team Based Development|
|13||Project Presentations||Assignment 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:
- a team based mark on the quality of the assignment, addressing fixed criteria;
- a client mark out of 3, which gives the students an understanding that they "must keep the client happy";
- a team consensus mark, negotiated with the team and supervisor. Marks can be subtracted from team members who are not performing and added to the score of other team members (the total marks awarded must remain zero!). This encourages students to carefully consider their role and contribution in relation to the others while working in a team;
- an individual report which encourages the students to reflect on team and client issues they have identified as important in each stage and discuss how they would do it differently next time.
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
|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 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:
- online content which sets the scene for each week;
- a course calendar;
- discussion fora arranged by week and/or activity (Chat and Bulletin boards);
- shared areas for team based work;
- the creation of student homepages;
- information collection through surveys;
- support materials such as a Guide (online and print based), Reader (print based), Plan (online and print based) and textbook.
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
|1||Introduction to project management course and WebCT. All students online with accounts.
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
|2||What 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
||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
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:
- Project team assessment, which is concerned with assessing the team's effort in producing a web based product. The project management methodology skills are assessed as well as the quality of the final product;
- Task group assessment, which is concerned with assessing the quality of summary posting and the synopsis made by the task team;
- A client mark out of 3, which gives the students an understanding that they "must keep the client happy";
- A project team consensus mark, negotiated with the project team and supervisor. Marks can be subtracted from team members who are not performing and added to the score of other team members (the total marks awarded must remain zero!). This encourages students to carefully consider their role and contribution in relation to the others while working in a team;
- An individual report which encourages the students to reflect on team and client issues they have identified as important in each stage and discuss how they would do it differently next time; and
- Individual contributions to the forum which include responding to summary postings and assisting other students with technical knowledge or other helpful advice.
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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