“E-C Collaboration” with Shenyang, China – Post 1

We are a group of year 13 students in the second year of our Applied ICT A-level at Lady Lumley’s School in North Yorkshire.  We are fulfilling the tequirements of our Project Management unit by working as a team on a project we have called E-C Collaboration.

It involves connecting together our year 7 students within our school in England with the equivalent year 7 students from our partner school in China – Shenyang 165 Middle School.

We are going to explore and test out the different ways of communicating online. We will use the “About Me” powerpoints which are already part of the Year 7 scheme of work with slide topics titled Welcome; Family; School; Sport; Interests; Food and Something Special. Students will use the same titles and topics in both countries, be paired up accordingly, and then be able to find out more about living in either country using a variety of online tools.

Map of Partner schools and LLS, North Yorkshire

Due to this we have come up with the team name EC-Collaboration.

This team name is important as it has a double meaning. The ‘EC’ being the initials for the two countries involved, England and China, as well sounding the word ‘easy’. We have developed a main aim for our project; this is
“ To enable all LLS Year 7 students to collaborate successfully with Year 7 Chinese students using a range of digital tools during the Autumn term 2011”.

We will be using the school VLE Fronter which we already know the Chinese students can access successfully through the help and support of their teacher, Wang Yingchun. We will be prototyping using Fronter for email, sharing resources, and forums and possibly using skype and msn.

Our team consists of eleven students – five pairs of students and the project manager – all with identified roles after each of us completed a skills audit. As project manager, it is Andrews’s job to ensure the projects success; to monitor the progress of the project especially the critical path; to make sure everybody does the tasks they are assigned and preferably on time and to motivate the rest of the team. If Andrew is ill, or away for another reason, Saskia is deputy project manager.

Rebecca and Emma have the role of pairing up students who they think will have an interest in communicating with one another.  This will be done by preference, as we have asked each student to make an additional slide with a number of preferences for what they would like to have in common with their chosen partner. They will also be investigating the use of Skype for face-to-face communication between the students.







The Lukes training us on Zoho

Luke Turnbull and Luke Kelly have the paired role of managing ‘Zoho’ which is online task management software accessible in real-time by all the team. The Lukes have identified these features for us to try: Task Management; Progress Reports; Project Calendars and Meetings; and Time Tracking. Next are Ellie and me, who have the role of focusing on each of the topics involved and prototyping the use of forums by students in both schools. Connor and Mark are prototyping different forms of multimedia starting with a request from the client that students embed sound files in their powerpoint.

Andrew, as project manager, is liaising with Ms Wangyingchun in Shenyang. Finally, and very importantly, Saskia and Jess have the role of coordinators with our client, our language teacher Miss Mark who is responsible for “Promoting the global dimension” at Lady Lumley’s School. All of us have other responsibilities such as helping with Year 7 classes through the term, taking minutes, improving certain skills etc.

As a group EC-Collaboration have agreed ‘Standard Ways of Working’ and we, as a group, think that it is important to do things in this way so as to succeed with the project. We also need to apply the Project Management theory with have learnt about, in particular, to avoid many of the ways that projects can fail.

As the project that we have chosen to do is such a large project involving communication across the globe, there are many aspects of the project that could cause it to fail.  For example, technical problems could become a big issue within the project, as risks such as China’s firewall could stop the students communicating.  Other technical problems could occur with the programmes used within the project, as updates could be made to programmes that the users are not familiar with. Drift within the project in relation to time, could also mean the project takes longer than planned.  Time differences between the two countries means that the times available to collaborate are restricted, not only with time differences but also within school hours, therefore contingency time is needed, usually estimated at 20%. Without one of the most important aspects of the project, the clients, the project could fail drastically, as without either of the clients (Miss Mark and April) the project would be difficult to complete. Finally, the project sponsor not being available due to falling ill would be a big risk to the projects sustainability, as there would be a loss of funding and leadership.

At the end of the school term, and therefore the finish date of the project for our group, we plan to have tested several communication technologies between the two groups of year 7 students. We will have evaluated which ones were successful and which weren’t using feedback from the year 7 students to help us. Although the project will come to an end for our team, we anticipate that there will be further opportunities for the students to collaborate later in the year.

Megan Hackett / Chris Sharples
7th October 2011