At the recent MOTM conference I was involved in a very interesting discussion with a friend of mine and a couple of other teachers on how to make her class project more creative. She was teaching design and had her students all making chairs
The more I contemplated this project the more I started to think of the Agile methodology to project development, specifically it’s non linear approach and wondered if it could have any benefits to this particular project.
I started by contemplating the notion that if you value a solution over an objective you are compromising potential and creativity. If you already have a solution or answer eg you will make a a chair you have removed the creative process and they will come with a preconceived idea of what a chair is.
They could potentially just say, look I have $20 in my hand I will just buy one.The problem here is that we haven’t stated the objective – why do we want a chair in the first place - what is the purpose of having a chair etc
Instead maybe the project could have been worded as “we want to make this communal space more comfortable, go for it kids”. This would allow for a much wider area of potential for creativity. It hands over power to the students, it broadens it, it opens up collaboration, it avoids the sheep effect – everyone copying the best chair, and you will potentially still get a couple of chairs out it.
The key is to always go for the higher-level objective, the bigger picture , have I presented a project opportunity to the students that has the widest possible opportunities or have I already given them an answer - a chair.
If you look at software development projects liner approaches could be likened to hard coding changeable elements – when you hard code elements into your software project that are potentially changeable down the track ( eg Hard coding url’s, into the code over time these might change). This adds a lot of risk to the project, you are not making your project scalable, and your limiting the bigger picture. If you have a project which is really hard coded and you need to make changes it will take a lot of time $ and it will limit your opportunities to make changes in the future. The chair might be an example of hard coding. An example of a linear project might be “I love superheros. I have 5 superhero figurines which I am going to place in an order of importance on a poster I will stick on the wall.”
4. Aqua man
5. The Hulk
At your next birthday you get given an Iron Man and you decide you would actually like to put him in number two on your wall list but that list has been locked down in texta. Your only option is to rip the project down and start again.
Another approach would be “I’m going to create make something in my house or on my wall that represents my love for superhero figurines.” Do I need to create a list that locks me down or is the point of the project to represent your love for superheros. You might go back to the list but it might come in some crazy way
Sometimes when you ask a question it may not be immediately evident to you that you are proposing a linear project that already has an answer. People tend to get stuck on solution under the delusion that is the objective of the project
You should put out the idea and start zooming out, broaden your question broaden your question broaden your question until you potentially might get to a place where you cant even see the question anymore, it dissolves. Instead you have a very high level guiding objective (is that the right word). That potentially could create a very messy project but thats OK. The zooming out can be very hard to do because we are often blinded by the first answer that raises its head at the first layer of zooming.
My objective is to get a twitter site – No thats not the objective its the solution. My objective is perhaps I am wanting to build a network, is this even an objective or should you ask why do I want to build a network? To impart knowledge, to learn, or maybe I want to get more people to visit my blog etc etc etc. Well twitter might be one way but potentially if creativity sneaks in, there might be many better unthought of ways.
If you already know the answer you have limited creativity and potential for a very interesting project/learning.