A time management activity
Students are not the only ones to feel confused with the steps of a design project, whether experimentation starts once research is done or whether they continue hand in hand and complement each other; whether the final outcome is one last experiment in a series of works or it is a more special one and needs weeks to be achieved properly. Although the design process is not always linear and predictable in a step-by-step journey as it varies from one person to another and from one project to another, I tried to generalise it in the following board game to allow students to understand broadly the main steps, where they are in the wheel and where they should be according to the project deadline.
The activity was designed in two parts for groups of three or four students. First, they were given the board and a series of cards with case studies examples, in which fictitious students tell their relation to their own creative project. Thus, my students had to read the information and guess where the fictitious student thinks he or she might be in the process, where the tutor of that student thinks he or she actually is according to their experience, and where the student should be according to the time spent working and the time left to hand in the outcome. My students started to talk to each other for a couple of minutes and they had to explain and justify where the pawn could be in the board. For some of them, the activity looked like an IELTS exam as certain reading skills were required to understand the cards. Then, based on the experience of an invented character, a fictitious student, the second part of the activity consisted in asking them to reflect on their own experience with their final major project and to write down what they were going to do in the six weeks left, being as precise as possible to see if their expectations could match with their reality. However, it is always difficult to ask someone what to do next when they don’t know what they are doing at the moment. Students had to plan and write down their tasks and, once fixed, I would verify them and suggest some changes if necessary.
This time management activity aimed to remind students that there are objective steps to follow to make a successful project and that they have to be very attentive with the time given to organise themselves, merging ambitions and realities. As facilitator, I would say it was more than essential to remind students that they were in the fifth week and that they only had six weeks to finish their project, as they immediately felt under pressure. There wasn’t much time to waste.