Towards an eLivingCampus

Posted on August 11, 2008

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Our software engineering class is working to develop the “Living Campus Information Infrastructure” . What does that mean? Good question, and one the students have been asking both us and their client, Paula Petley from our CEO’s office.

Having gone through nearly two years of doing assignments with specific instructions, the students arrive in software engineering expecting to be given a detailed brief. When they don’t get one from us, they turn to the client, hoping to find one there.

In this project we are not being deliberately vague, we genuinely don’t know where this project is heading. This makes teaching the course interesting, in adopting the agile concept of embracing change we are also experiencing the values of courage, simplicity, feedback and respect. This applies to the students and the academics equally, which makes for a shared learning experience.

We’re also following the manifesto, valuing those things on the left more than those on the right:

– individuals and iterations over processes and tasks

– working software over comprehensive documentation

– customer collaboration over contract negotiation

– responding to change over following a plan.

We mix this agile approach with a framework – three iterations. Each has milestone deliverables, the first is understanding and communication, the second a functional delivery, and the third: a robust delivery.

So the goals of the first iteration are all about building understandings – not what the project is going to result in, nor even what it has to do. Rather, the focus is on why – why is this a project that needs their help. In other words – what is the business opportunity.

The first iteration is also about building confidence and communication (within the group and with stakeholders).

In the first iteration the goals are to build up understanding of the business opportunity, and how the teams might use their skills in information technology to work towards meeting that opportunity.

One of the first things they do is to meet with the client. All groups have now done that and are working their way through the rest of the first iteration. The next milestone is the project proposal, due this Friday.

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