Saturday, 26 March 2016

Infosys 110: Deliverable One ("The Video")

When I reviewed Business 101 and 102 I noted that changes were underway. In a discussion I had the other day with some random first years (I assume) in OGGB, I discovered that the changes were a bit more substantial than I had assumed. Apparently, Business 101 now has a cheat sheet for the test and has a test and an essay. Looking at this, the essay thing isn't true for 101 but is (insofar as there is an essay that replaces the test) for 102. Still, that's why I had the warning. But this post has Infosys 110 in the title?

Infosys 110 does seem to have changed a little (the textbook is now apparently available exclusively online, a move possibly assisted by the demise of short loan but it may have been the case last year when short loan was still around) but not so substantially. Consequentially, I think I can still say something useful about the course two years down the track: this time about D1.

Group Work is often considered to be the world's worst thing. I don't know why. Sure, you watch things like Project Runway when the competitors are forced to work in a group situation and notice pretty quickly how almost universally terrible they are at it, but you're thinking "How on Earth are they this useless?" Perhaps it's a credit thing. Maybe it's a possession thing. I don't know. The latter isn't really a problem in the case of D1 because the output is a video with a digital existence over which you are in control. Credit wise? Yeah, I can totally imagine that someone is going to be pissed if they do all the work but their partner gets just as many marks. That's why there was anonymous reviewing when I did Infosys 110. Basically, what I am saying is that if you write things like the below, you need to grow up and get over yourself. Don't like the tone? Deal with it, because you're probably the problem.

when I die I want people I've done group projects with to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time 

Look, I understand that not all groups are perfect. I also understand that the mentality that you bring into the group work will have a big impact on how that group works out. And it's situation dependent. With something like D1, a bad group isn't really a problem because the workload is entirely manageable for one person. With something like Business 101 then there isn't really an end product... which is possibly the issue. When we worked in groups in drama at school there was an end product. Consequentially, what you are doing feels as if it has meaning. Still, back to D1.

This could be a better blog with research. That is, if I actually went to my shelf, all the way on the other side of the room, and consulted my coursebook with the instructions. On the other hand, too much detail could be a problem because I am pretty sure working in threes is the norm now: when I took Infosys 110 it was all about partners. So, basically, the way this assessment works is that you have to:

  • Come up with a problem.
  • Think of a solution to that problem.
  • Turn that solution into a product which involves an information system (which broadly means has IT to it).
  • Produce a three minute video to convey: a) the problem, b) why it's a problem, c) the product (the solution), d) what's so great about your solution.

Now, I recently started thinking about this because while I was sitting at a different computer in OGGB last week finishing a different assignment, I overheard some people talking about Infosys 110. Being Mr Helpful I checked that they were doing Infosys 110 and then suggested that they check out Youtube to have a look at some past examples of videos. Anyone reading this can do that too: they're not all (mostly not I reckon) private videos. Anyway, this group of three said they'd look into that and form what I heard then decided to work on coming up with a problem. The way I think they were going about this was not so great.

The way that Infosys 110 thinks about problems is the "Problem Tree" framework. This basically means coming up with causes and effects of some problem. Trouble is, you still need a problem. I decided that the best thing to do was for my partner and I to duplicate the work. That may sound inefficient because it does, necessarily, end up with wasted work. However, what it does achieve is that you get: a) two problems, b) two lots of research into causes and effects and c) a better quality final problem. I would, and here am, recommend following this inefficient approach on the basis that it is more effective than an efficient approach. It also means that if you get further along in the task and decide that the problem isn't working for you, there is a fall back option already. (But the point is, if you listen to my advice the odds of it not working are lower: hence, effective.)

Now, there are some other downsides to this approach. For instance, I decided to look into prison overcrowding. A large reason for this fairly obscure problem choice was that we didn't end up, after a pretty hostile discussion (storming), using a prison related issue for a drama assessment in year twelve. It also seemed like something which would be fairly easy to address using an information system (the use of broadly before is important: it's not just information technology). However, my partner and I actually ended up using his idea instead because we couldn't decide between the ideas. This dilemma was resolved via Office Hour. I don't remember much about our consultation with Anson (our lecturer) but the net effect was that he suggested the transport idea was better than the prison one because it was better suited to the specific nature of the assignment.

From this point I think we decided to put some more intellectual muscle into fleshing out the ideas for the solution. I don't remember if we did actually think up two separate solutions or just decided to individually think about an existing solution. I'm pretty sure we had no issues with what happened either because the next thing I actually do remember was video production.

Now, hopefully you've already seen a video or two. Some of them look pretty flash. Others seem pretty dull. I haven't personally seen one that wasn't effectively a more fluid powerpoint (based on the, I guess, fifteen to twenty-five I've seen). Most of them seem to be made using PowToon. Ours was.

At this stage in the course of D1 it probably seems as though we haven't actually done much group work. In fact, at this point, we'd effectively worked together three times. One: deciding how to approach the assignment. Two: not deciding on the problem. Three: whatever the hell we did about the solution. This is, in my view, effective teamwork: it managed the human resources well and ended up with high quality outcomes. The video, though, was much more in the mould of traditional teamwork.

Our first adventure with PowToon did not go particularly well. I think we spent about an hour getting a handle on the thing and ended up wiping everything we'd achieved at least once. In the end, though, I decided this was a good thing: I think my partner agreed. When we started to work on the video from this point forth I did the writing, made the video and basically just used my partner to take feedback from. However, this was pretty much done using his research and was largely because he didn't want his second language status to cause issues. This process was all about playing to (relative) strengths and communication... and I think it was done well. Perhaps our one mistake was listening too much to the handful of people we used as outside eyes.

D1 is an interesting assessment. I personally find it rewarding to utilise alternative ways of submitting the same thing (this could easily be a report) but it's good that a course with a reputation for being buzzwordy actually tries to get people to think... even if, given the number of app solutions (even we included an app), serious questions have to be asked about who is picking up on that. For a course which once told me something along the lines of "Wisdom it beyond the scope of this course", it's been something to which I have fairly continually been able to find the relevance of.

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