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Creative Project

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Begin with a video lecture introducing this assignment.

Background

Before launching into the specifics of writing a creative project prospectus, it is worth considering its purpose. For most departments it is a requirement prior to completing the masters degree.

The proposal is a form of communication between your Chairperson, the other members of your committee and yourself. It helps them understand exactly what you are intending to do and how you will do it. If they approve it, it becomes a kind of a contract between you and your committee. You do your part, as well as fulfilling the other requirements (like taking the prescribed classes), and they do their part in awarding you the degree.

We often talk about "proposal drafts". That is because these documents are generally modified and reworked several times before being approved by your chairperson and the full committee. This exercise is designed to help you develop a short version of the proposal, a "Prospectus", that will communicate your intentions and will serve as a first draft of a document for your proposal. The final proposal will probably be somewhat longer and more detailed than what you develop for this class. As a general guideline for this class a prospectus should be considered a small proposal (usually 4-6 pages, typed double spaced), while a full proposal will usually be longer and more detailed (12-15 pages).

Creative Project

Step 1: Introduction

As background for this assignment, you may want to review the documents: " Types of Creative Projects that may be acceptable for the M.Ed. degree " and " College of Education ...M.Ed. Creative Project. " These are general guidelines that can help you select your topic and can give you an idea of the content of the various sections in a typical proposal. (Please keep in mind the distinction between "prospectus" - rather short (4-6 pages) - and "proposal" somewhat longer (12-15 pages).

You may want to print them out for reference later.

The following scenario will attempt to take you through the design process with one masters degree student in Instructional Technology, Tara Schurz. While her project is unlikely to be very similar to yours, the steps that she must take to devise and write a proposal are very similar to what you will likely do for your own project. If possible, work as a group to do this exercise.

Tara's Situation:

Tara Schurz had completed a bachelor's degree in Public Health Administration at Utah State University when she applied for the Masters program in Instructional Technology. For two years she had been given the opportunity to work with a computer-related project, and she decided to continue that work in graduate school. Quite soon after being admitted to the program in the fall of 1997, Dr. Cliff Craig of the Dept. of Geography hired Tara to help with a funded curriculum development project. His project, for the Utah Geographic Alliance, had the task of developing a CD-Rom about Mexico, something that teachers of both geography and Spanish could use in their classes. The CD was to be produced at USU and then distributed at cost to teachers around the state. Tara was one of four graduate students on Dr. Craig's team, and all of them were studying for Masters degrees in Instructional Technology.

What the four of them found while working on the CD and at the same time taking classes was a major discrepancy between the kinds of models taught in class, particularly the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model and the kind of work they were doing on the Mexico CD. The traditional model seemed, to Tara at least, to take too long to give needed feedback to guide the development process.

Tara had worked as a graduate assistant for 2 quarters developing the Compact Disc, primarily doing programming in the authoring language mTropolis, when it became time to write a Creative Project proposal. While there were opportunities to do an internship with a project outside the university, she was more attracted by the prospect of continuing to work with the Geography Design team to complete the Mexico CD project. While the project was definitely a team effort, there was enough work for her personally and the experience was rewarding enough that she thought it would work as a Creative Project.

Click here to see the website of the Utah Geographic Alliance. It has some background on the organization and its ongoing projects.

Task 1: State the Goals of the Work

What is the main purpose of Tara's efforts?

  • To complete her degree?
  • To try out a new design model?
  • To develop a CD-Rom for teachers of geography throughout the state of Utah?

Put yourself in Tara's place. What is the problem she is attempting to solve? Problems may be stated as questions or as remediable lacks.

Task 1: Expert Feedback

Tara is interested in doing a Creative Project with the Utah Geographic Alliance Project that will allow her to test out a new design model. She knows that her effort will be part of a team project, but that the magnitude of the task will require all the time devoted to her 20-hour per week assistantship and then some to finish programming the CD by the deadline in early June.

What is the problem being addressed?

In a prospectus for a masters degree, writing the Problem Statement is one of the most important steps. In general, this can be done in one of two ways: (1) to state the problem as a remediable lack or (2) to state the problem as a question to be investigated.

There are a variety of questions that might guide her effort. Some are interesting to her and some are not. What are some questions she could ask that would help guide the direction for this Creative Project? Or alternatively, what is the remediable lack that this project attempts to solve?

Tara finds herself drawn to the problem of the design process that will work for this team project. She finds that a newer way of doing it, called Rapid Prototyping, works much more effectively than does the ISD process taught in her courses. She wants to know:

  • What are the elements of "rapid prototyping", and how do they differ from the standard ISD process?
  • How can rapid prototyping be applied to the development of a computer program with geographic content? And, finally:
  • How can rapid prototyping be implemented in a team setting?

The other way of stating this, as a remediable lack, would be to state that the present ISD model being taught in class has some obvious deficiencies in practice. The project then becomes a means of investigating a better model, in this case rapid prototyping.

Task 2: Gather information

What types of information should be checked out, and in what order?

Task: Do the following and compare your answer with the Expert's

Make a list of the sources you would examine to complete this prospectus: e.g. on-line library resources, College of Education guidelines, word-of-mouth, etc.

Task 2: Feedback from the Expert

Tara starts out with a docment entitled " Types of Creative Projects that may be acceptable for the M.Ed. Degree ."

She follow up on some text material from her sourse on Instructional Development, to include more research on the traditional Instructional Systems Design model. She also searches out alternative views of design, particularly the Spiral Design model advocated by Dowding (1991).

Tara is interested in doing a Creative Project with the Utah Geographic Alliance Project that will allow her to test out a new design model. She knows that her effort will be part of a team project, but that the magnitude of the task will require all the time devoted to her 20-hour per week assistantship and then some to finish programming the CD by the deadline in early June.

What is the problem being addressed?

In a prospectus for a masters degree, writing the Problem Statement is one of the most important steps. In general, this can be done in one of two ways: (1) to state the problem as a remediable lack or (2) to state the problem as a question to be investigated.

There are a variety of questions that might guide her effort. Some are interesting to her and some are not. What are some questions that you could ask that would help guide the direction for this Creative Project? Or alternatively, what is the remediable lack that this project attempts to solve?

Tara finds herself drawn to the problem of the design process that will work for this team project. She finds that a newer way of doing it, called Rapid Prototyping, works much more effectively than does the ISD process taught in her courses. She wants to know:

  • What are the elements of "rapid prototyping", and how do they differ from the standard ISD process?
  • How can rapid prototyping be applied to the development of a computer program with geographic content? And, finally:
  • How can rapid prototyping be implemented in a team setting?

The other way of stating this, as a remediable lack, would be to state that the present ISD model being taught in class has some obvious deficiencies in practice. The project then becomes a means of investigating a better model, in this case rapid prototyping.

Task 3: Gather information

Read the Dowding article "Managing Chaos" for background information about rapid prototyping (what it is and how it can be applied) that will help in designing the actual Creative Project prospectus.

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

What are the main points you obtain from background reading?

Task 3: Expert Feedback

Tara starts out with a document entitled " Types of Creative Projects that may be acceptable for the M.Ed. Degree ," available on Electronic Reserve as described above.

She follows up on some text material from her course on Instructional Development, to include more research on the traditional Instructional Systems Design model. She also searches out alternative views of design, particularly the Spiral Design model advocated by Dowding (1991) .

There is a new model for doing instructional development, called Rapid Prototyping. Dowding's Spiral Design model formuizes on version of it. This process is iterative and gives closer feedback to the developer than the traditional design models.

Task 4: Generate Possible Solutions

There are several types of creative project that might be workable with Tara's situation.

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

Briefly list several types of Creative Projects that would best deal with Tara's intentions.

Task 4: Expert Feedback

The project Tara wants to do seems closest to either the internship (option #7) or the educational product development (Option #2).

If she chose to go more deeply into the literature, spending her entire time developing a bibliography of sources and relevant articles, she could choose Option #6: Review of Literature.

If she were to be chosen to go out and demonstrate how this CD could be used in teaching geography, she might choose option #3, Inservice Education Projects. However, that was not her assigned role, and so it would be an unlikely choice for Tara. [Any money in Dr. Craig's budget to do this step would likely have been rather limited].

Task 5: Specify the constraints

Before launching into any one of these alternatives, Tara needs to determine what kinds of resources she will have to use.

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

List what you believe to be the present limitations in terms of money, time, and personnel.

Task 5: Expert Feedback

By choosing to work on an ongoing, funded project, many of the costs of development will be paid by Dr. Craig's grant. If she were doing this project on her own time, the expenses would be greater.

For Tara, the main constraints are:

  • Time: must not require more than the 20 hours per week of her assistantship for the remaining school term.
  • Money: should not require any out-of-pocket expenses that cannot be charged to the grant.
  • Learning: This project has to be completed in the authoring language Tara has already learned, mTropolis. To require a change to another authoring language at this time would be too time intensive and thus would be prohibitive. [It turns out that shortly after completion of the project, the authoring language mTropolis was bought out by another firm and further development discontinued. In today's computer world, that makes it a"dead language"].
  • Deadlines: The project must be nearly complete, or at least complete enough to be demonstrated, at the time of the final oral defense in May before Spring Graduation.
  • Teamwork: The contributions of the various team members must be distinct enough that anyone could see that Tara's part was important to overall success. In addition, people on the team must get along well enough for her to be confident of the project succeeding.


Task 6: Select a solution

What choice of a project should she make? How should she write up the results?

Task: Answer the following questions and compare your answer with the Expert's

The following are key questions for this step:

  • What procedures should she follow?
  • How will she evaluate the effectiveness of the project?
  • How will she report the results?

Task 6: Expert Feedback

Tara feels that she is really doing an internship, since she is employed and working in the Geography Lab, but after conversing with the Dept. Head in Instructional Technology, she decides that developing an Educational Product (Option #2) is the better course of action.

(The difficulty is over using an ongoing graduate assistantship as the internship experience. At the time she did this project, the department policy required her to leave campus or take a new job, counting the first 4 months of that experience as internship. However, since she is staying at her campus-based assistantship, and since an actual product will be the result, the product development option is seen as the better choice).

Link to Tara Schurz Proposal



Watch the video debrief of the Creative Project Simulation Activity
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . factpetersen. (2007, August 08). Creative Project. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/education/research-for-the-classroom-teacher/unit-8/creative-project.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License