Project Based Learning: A Capstone Experience with BaseCamp
The jump from being a student in a class in which the professor sets the agenda and the timetable to being a member of a professional team held accountable to a real client can be an intimidating experience. Historically, to the members of Studio Five. a student-run workplace, project management has presented the greatest challenge. It occurred to the faculty of Studio Five, that perhaps presenting them with models that would assist them in developing the skills necessary to successful project management might enhance their learning experience. Implementing the use of BaseCamp, a server-based, software, used by many communications’ workplaces, is designed to support project teams in their new ventures and ease the difficulties of juggling multiple projects, time, budget, talent and coordination constraints. It helps to provide a structured virtual workplace for a project-based learning experience that facilitates time and project management; supports non-synchronous collaboration; enables virtual team meetings and delineation of team roles; supports wiki style collaboration on both text-based and image-based projects; invites non-profit clients and student teams to collaborate regularly in an on line environment; facilitates assessment of student projects and working teams by Studio Five faculty. In the same way that an eLearning environment extends the classroom for students, implementing BaseCamp has extended the student workplace. For many seniors at Simmons, time is a precious commodity. They have jobs, do internships, study, take classes, are perhaps applying to graduate school. It is not always possible for them to meet in person. Basecamp allows them the ability to meet virtually, to collaborate–using its wiki style Writeboard–on project proposals, rough drafts of copy, thumbnails of designs; and to share these drafts for feedback, with their clients. Its time management elements, to-do lists, automated generation of email messages and milestone reminders, and shared filed storage buttress the professional level of work the Studio Five teams are engaged in and increase their potential for success. The frosting on the cake of this experience, is that upon completion of their Studio Five experience, they will enter the workplace, with comfort and skill in a BaseCamp-type of project management software.
Keywords: Project Based Learning, Extended Classroom, BaseCamp Software, Virtual Workplace, Project Management Skills, Team Building
Dr. Ellen Grabiner
Assistant Professor, Communication Department, Simmons College
Internship Coordinator, Communications Department, Simmons College