Thursday, April 28, 2016

PBL - Project Management Made Easier with Trello

A while back I posted some ideas on how to keep the students on track during a PBL run (PBL - Avoiding the pitfalls of "Doing Research"). I've been working with several iterations of the Project Timetable, Daily Project Work Report and Project Management Sheet with some success, but my students and I still struggle with some of the finer points of PBL management in the classroom.

You see, some of my students hear project and immediately jump up to get scissors and glue, while others get a computer and open Google slides. Often I find myself saying, "You don't even know what the project is about and you are already thinking about the final product?" So the question continues, "How can I help students visualize the steps needed to successfully complete a project run without micro-managing?", and more importantly, "How can I see where everyone is at any given time?" I think I may have found the answer in Trello.

Trello is a free project management tool. The interface is simple. You create a board, which is really a list of lists, filled with cards. The cards can include pictures, attachments, checklists, labels and due dates. These cards can be moved around and edited all members of a board. Basically anything that you would need to know about a project run can be added to the board.

Here is how I am using it for my PBL runs:

  1. I create an assignment board master and make it public. The master includes the assignment, specific links I want to share, expected due dates, etc. 
  2. The "press secretary" from each team creates a copy my board master, and shares it with his/her teammates and myself.
  3. As students work on the project run, they update the board, moving the cards from "To do" to "Doing" to "Done", and add the evidence of their work. They can add links, pictures, documents, you name it!
  4. Things in the  "Done" list can be opened  by me to provide feedback. I can  even move things back to the "Doing" for revision. The board is updated in real time, so any time anything happens the students have the "latest" information.

Trello does not have to be only for PBL. Read what Melanie Pinola has to say about Trello. And no, I am not affiliated with Trello in any way. It simply has allowed me and my students to become better at this PBL business.

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