Here is a unique idea and I bet your course management system doesn’t have this: a full project manager.
Here is the problem. Students are often assigned to work in groups but it is very difficult for an instructor to see what is going on inside the group and who in the group is doing what and carrying their load.
The Mentor Project Manager is a sub-system that can be attached to any assignment in the Mentor course management system. The instructor defines the student groups and adds them into each of their “projects”. The instructor and/or the group members themselves can specify “tasks” that the group needs to accomplish. Tasks can have sub-tasks and so on. Each task can be assigned to one or more group members. Tasks have a title, description field, due date and members can insert notes on each task, upload electronic files to each task and those assigned to a task can track their time on task.
This provides a rich source of information to the instructor, who can review time on task reports, the products of each task, the notes on each task and so on. Instructors can define rubrics to evaluate the project as a whole, individual tasks and individual students.
Another model for the Project Manager is to assign each student to their own project in the context of an assignment. Instructors can define a task in one project and copy it to all the other projects. For instance, suppose students have a paper assignment. Students often do not fully understand how to break down the complex task of writing a paper. The Project Manager is perfect to guide students through the process. The first task might be an initial literature review and an annotated bibliography. The second task might be a statement of the goal of the paper – what the student author hopes to accomplish, or what the student author hopes to convince the reader of. The next task might be an outline, and so on. The Mentor Project Manager is a great way to scaffold students up in the development of a complex research project. It provides guidance to the students and a venue for the instructor to interact with the students at each step along the way.
The Mentor Project Manager is also available outside the Mentor course management system. Any Mentor user can create a project, define a team of project members and begin organizing and tracking a project. This facility can be perfect, for instance, for writing an accreditation report. The self-study team can create sub-projects for each accreditation standard and assign separate teams to each sub-project. The standards committees can then organize their work. Drafts are immediately available for review by the self-study committee.
As you can see, the Mentor Project Manager is a powerful tool that can be used in many ways.