Collaborative Learning Projects

Collaborative Blog Assignment (PDF)

The group blog is an assignment that I have used in a variety of courses, both face-to-face and online, from first-year composition to literature survey courses to this graduate course. I find that group blogs are a nice way to get students to learn about a subject, practice public writing, and learn how to work in a group. It is just about always a nice supplement to other course work, maybe being a kind of pre-writing for a later research paper or a chance to engage the class discussions with a larger, real audience. Mostly, I find that the blogs help students build a little expertise in a subject.

Fun with Dick and Jane (PDF)

This task was an in-class group project for a three-hour class, so students had a lot of time to fulfill it. A graduate class in Information Technology for Leaders, it was not a technical course, but one meant to familiarize organizational leadership students with IT issues they might encounter as leaders in industry and non-profit settings. The task was related to many readings about IT in business (only one component of the course) and focused on problem-solving using technology. The assignment is linked from the title and also written out below.

Assignment:

Learn with Dick and Jane, Inc.

Dick Appel (48) and Jane Fields (50), friends from childhood through college, co-founded a tutoring company 20 years ago that, while successful and moderately profitable, needs to trim some fat and improve its operation in order to provide for Dick’s new significant other’s taste in Italian shoes, for one thing, and Jane’s desire to retire by age 55. They called in their old college pal, Sally Stubble, to observe the firm’s daily operations and come up with a plan to streamline operations and increase both profit and productivity. Sally hopes to implement an IT solution to the problem, and here’s what she has to work with:

  • Company Profile: For-profit educational tutoring service currently provides individual instruction for math, science, and English at main office location; conducts workshops at schools and organizations to promote its in-house designed software, which is available for sale to organizations; wants to expand to provide instruction/training to businesses in locality. The office is open Monday-Friday 9-9, Saturday 9-1. This is the only company of its kind in the area.
    • Location: 3000 sq. ft. office space in a shopping plaza in a city of 1/4 million.
      • The space is divided into a reception area, front office, individual offices for the 5 executives, lunch room, 2 bathrooms, 1 large cubicled tutorial space, 1 large open geekspace for research and development of software, some small storage areas.
    • There are 30 employees:
      • 2 full-time co-founders who serve as the company’s joint CEOs;
      • 3 full-time executive managers, one for each field (math, science, English);
      • 10 full-time and 5 part-time tutors who do individual consultations and on-site workshops;
      • 5 part-time software developers who also conduct research in educational software trends;
      • 1 full-time office manager and 4 part-time clerical workers who also staff the reception area.
    • Contract with local accounting firm to oversee bookkeeping, taxes.

    Question: If you were Sally, what would you suggest as an IT solution for Dick and Jane? Create an IT solution; then evaluate it in terms of improved work conditions, profit, and work satisfaction.

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