Today I took a webinar titled, “Project-Based Learning with Agile Project Management” from edweb.net. The presenters were Christie Terry, Director, eMINTS National Center at the University of Missouri College of Education; and Michelle Kendrick, Program Coordinator, eMINTS National Center at the University of Missouri College of Education. The webinar was sponsored by Nureva.
Project-Based Learning (PBL)
Project-Based Learning, or Problem-Based Learning, is a student-centered learning approach where students take ownership in solving a task. The process involves student identifying a problem or an essential question; feeling empathy for those experiencing the problem or for those experiencing the question; and through the exploration of the problem or question, developing a deeper understanding and knowledge for the problem or essential question.
Focus of this Webinar
This webinar was interesting because it came from a business perspective. The webinar was showcasing the process of Scrum, which is one of many agile approaches to product development. Traditional project management methods fix requirements in an effort to control time and cost; Scrum on the other hand, fixes time and cost in an effort to control requirements. This is done using time boxes, collaborative ceremonies, a prioritized product backlog, and frequent feedback cycles (Backlog, Doing, Reviewing, and Done) (Sliger, 2011). It is based on the Rugby model of the way a team works together to move the ball down the field.
Utilizing this approach in PBL, this process would hold the students accountable for their work. They breakdown the process into five steps:
- Create a backlog. This is where the group creates a list of needs to be done to solve the problem. This is also where empathy is addressed as they ask themselves, “As (this person), I need (what) so that (why)”. They also prioritize the needs and know that not all needs will be met or addressed.
- Planning the Sprint. This is where the team decides what can be done in the time allotted. The team also moves the stories they are going to tackle from the Backlog to Doing.
- When creating a scrum board during this portion, the board looks a lot like a padlet or a big bulletin board with many dividers.
- Sprint! The team works quickly to meet the goals for the sprint (3-5 days). They also hold 15 minute standup meetings. These are meetings where they cannot sit and get comfortable so that the meeting is more productive and effective.
- Sprint Review. A reflection meeting after every sprint to present products and accomplishments.
There were numerous school examples shown throughout the webinar. They included a yearbook committee using this process to create a yearbook and creating a fairytale that would appeal to the current generation of students. Many participants asked about the grade levels this process was used. The answers varied from elementary to any grade level that completes a project.
My reaction from this webinar is that it has a lot of potential. As the presenters stated, it is just a taste of this process. One would need more training and research to be able to utilize it well in their classrooms. I could see this being utilized with a group of teachers or a PLC before using it with students. Especially the 15-minute standup meeting, which could result in more productive meetings for problem solving. I enjoyed this PD as it was one of those sessions that makes you look at an approach from a different angle.
Sliger, M. (2011). Agile project management with Scrum. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2011—North America, Dallas, TX. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.