Best Practices Made Better: Team-Based Projects
Among the things that I have always loved about Experiential Education? It is never perfect. There is always opportunity to improve and learn and iterate.
The GCC blog serves as invitation to learn from each other and iterate together. Our Best Practices Made Better entries are intended to encourage dialogue rather than issue definitive edicts.
These entries will follow a structure. While fully embracing the Power of Three and a love for alliteration, that structure consists of a quick description of the Best Practice followed by three sections: Main Motivations; Top Tips; and Lessons Learned.
First up is team-based projects, a growing segment within the Global Career Center portfolio of customized programs connecting employability and education.
Our team-based project placements have really caught the interest of universities, students, and employers with collaborative work towards a real-world deliverable in a global setting. For the most common model, groups of three to five students participate in a month-long project with an outcome such as SWOT analysis or social media strategy or UX testing for a host organization. These projects are sourced through then moderated and mentored by GCC. The team-based experience can be a stand-alone program or embedded within a course or serve as capstone towards a credential.
Main Motivations to incorporate team-based projects:
· Expand Access. Fewer hours, lower costs and a focused project scope allow more students to experience the global workplace now and expand options later.
· Build Community. The alternate description is “combat isolation” since projects can help students build connections as they collaborate with colleagues towards a shared goal.
· Mirror the Workplace. It may be a virtual program component, but teams connecting via technology to complete a project is definitely a reality for future (and current!) careers.
Top Tips to develop team-based projects:
· Standardize Structure. Build timelines and templates to guide students and supervisors, prioritizing early work with each host organization to thoroughly scope out the project.
· Incorporate Interventions. Utilize quick temperature checks with questions that allow for relevant follow up, such as referrals to specific skills-based workshops or articles.
· Cultivate Consultancy. Reinforce the employer as client and student as professional throughout initial context and ongoing coaching and all communications.
Lessons Learned to improve team-based projects:
· Tech is a Tool. Focus on the project deliverable first then consider how best to deploy technology that supports efficient teamwork and effective individual contributions.
· Show, Don’t Tell. Prepare teams for action-oriented presentations and celebrate the opportunity for students to demonstrate work through a deliverable from the project.
· Failure is an Option…if you learn from it. Be prepared to guide through structure and support via interventions, resist an urge to fix a team rather than allow real life learning.
Please do share your own lessons, tips and motivations. We welcome the conversation and look forward to more Best Practices Made Better.