One of the online collaborative tools I’ve been learning lately is project management software. We are playing with Zoho Project Management (selected due to it’s integration with GoogleDocs). I’d heard of project management software before but didn’t really have a need for it.
We (Andrews University) inherited 120 courses through the merger with Griggs University. These courses are in need of upgrading. After spending several months getting a handle on the state of the courses, how they were used, and stats about them, I knew that we needed some method to manage the work of the upgrades. In addition, we have several staff working on the project. I wanted a way that everyone involved could see the work to be done and could even pick next projects on their own. Self management is possible if everyone is trained and can see the pile of work!
We have several different categories of people working on the courses:
- Student workers
- Instructional designers
- Course authors (subject matter specialist)
- Two of us are supervising the student workers
All of these people have logins to the Zoho site except for the course authors. But we did make a dummy account called “AUTHOR” so we could mark and track various tasks that the course author is doing.
Zoho Projects Features
We are using only a few of the features of the site:
- Tasks. We have a Task List for each course. We may assign work to the students, or they can also assign themselves to a job. They know to pick a job that they are trained on. Within Tasks, each job has a completion graph. Everyone is putting the percent finished at the end of each day so we can monitor progress and who will need another job soon.
- Milestones. At the moment we have four milestones. We are using them as big categories for the sets of courses we are working on. We have a deadline for each milestone.
- Wiki. We have a couple pages with instructions, and have collected a few supporting links.
- Documents. We haven’t put up too many documents – a few syllabi in progress. Most of our documents are on our shared drive for courses instead.
- Dashboard. The dashboard is fun to see our progress.
Now that we have a system going with Zoho Projects for our course development, I’m starting to think about other ways we could use this.
- Online Course Approvals. We have an Online Course Approval process that is required by our accrediting agency (NCA HLC). We have built a process that divides the work among the committee members. I’m thinking that Zoho Projects might be helpful for tracking the work.
- Dissertations. One of my assignments is to figure out a way to track dissertation progress and provide online tools that support it. We have a few doctoral level degrees in the School of Education that are online – and an online tool to support the dissertation/thesis process could be very helpful. I haven’t seen anything online designed specifically for this, so it seems maybe project management software would help. We could have document versions, task and calendar tracking, as well as discussion areas. I have questions around this still, but am thinking about it.
We currently have one Zoho Projects site, which is free. If we expand, we’ll probably look into getting into some type of campus wide plan. But so far we’re not ready to think about that!
What about you? Do you have any large scale projects that need managing? How do you track them? What tips do you have?