Project Management for Project-Based Learning: A Case Study of Course Projects with Small Virtual Instructional Design Teams

Project Management for Project-Based Learning: A Case Study of Course Projects with Small Virtual Instructional Design Teams

Shahron Williams van Rooij (George Mason University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-830-7.ch019
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Abstract

This chapter reports the results of a case study in which the final project outcomes of small virtual instructional design teams using Project Management in an online graduate-level course are compared with teams using a less-structured approach. Based on the findings, the author offers the following recommendations for structuring project-based learning in small virtual teams: (a) assess through pre- or in-course questioning individual motivators of success and performance in virtual teams, (b) provide teams with templates with which to document roles, responsibilities, milestones and key deliverables, and (c) offer time and schedule management tips to reinforce/extend entry skills in team project management and participation. This case study can serve as a resource to eLearning practitioners seeking research-based best practices for both managing and participating in project teams that may have limited human and material resources and that may be distributed over a number of geographic locations and time zones.
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Background

To understand the results of the study and their implications, a few definitions are needed. Project-based learning focuses on the production of a final product by applying previously acquired knowledge (Prince & Felder, 2007; Helle, Tynjala, & Olkinuora, 2006). Thomas (2000) lists five criteria of project-based learning:

  • Projects are central, not peripheral to the curriculum;

  • Projects are focused on questions or problems that drive learners to encounter and struggle with the central concepts and principles of a discipline;

  • Projects involve learners in a constructive investigation or goal-directed process that includes inquiry, knowledge building and resolution;

  • Projects are conducive to student autonomy, choice, and allow unsupervised work time, and;

  • Projects are realistic, not school-like, focusing on authentic challenges where the solutions have the potential to be implemented.

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