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  • Organizing courses in college

    Hi!

    I'm trying to figure out how i should organize my next actions and project list in college. I usually do homework either at school or at home. It doesn't really matter where i do it, depends more on what books/school supplies i have with me. I use Remember the milk to organize my setup.
    Here is an example from one of my courses:

    Course #1
    - read page 10-20 in book (NA)
    - review notes from class (NA)
    - written assignment (Project)
    *read page 11-39 (NA)
    *write a report
    *send report to a fellow student
    - waiting on test to get graded (Wait)

    Should i treat each course as a project? If i should, what do I do with projects within the different courses? What contexts should i use?

    I know this might be unclear, so please ask if there are any questions.

  • #2
    Your courses are not projects; they are areas of focus inside of a larger area of focus - your educational development. Tests and term papers are two concrete examples of projects that you may have and assignments that you can do in one physical step (reading, Q&A from end of chapter, etc.) would be a next action.

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    • #3
      I have a similar challenge in that I have large client projects that have multiple deliverables within in. Some of these projects can be 1-3 years long. So what I do with my projects is I prefix the deliverables with the client name and project name.

      eg.

      Client A ABC Implementation: Project Charter Delivered
      Client A ABC Implementation: 2011 Governance Meetings Structured and Scheduled

      and so forth.

      You may want to consider prefixing your projects with your course number or name.

      Enyo

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      • #4
        Hi back -- I agree with ellobogrande on the difference between projects and courses. Each course can have any number of projects -- anything that you're going to hand in or present or be tested on is likely a project. I'd call anything that has more than one action a project. For me, projects almost always benefit from planning -- as described in chapter 3 of the book -- even if I don't always believe it when I first sit down to start planning!

        Tom

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
          Your courses are not projects; they are areas of focus inside of a larger area of focus - your educational development. Tests and term papers are two concrete examples of projects that you may have and assignments that you can do in one physical step (reading, Q&A from end of chapter, etc.) would be a next action.
          Maybe, maybe not. How you set things up depends not only on you but on the list tool you use. I'm a university professor, and I assure you that my courses are projects. Any other structure tends to hide the connections between the different components of a course: reading, lecture, discussion, problem sets, tests, et cetera.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
            Maybe, maybe not. How you set things up depends not only on you but on the list tool you use. I'm a university professor, and I assure you that my courses are projects. Any other structure tends to hide the connections between the different components of a course: reading, lecture, discussion, problem sets, tests, et cetera.
            So if you were a student in one of your courses, would you want your list tool to provide a tree structure to represent what you need to be working on in the course?

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            • #7
              I would have each course a project, each assignment a subproject. There is one objective - to get a high mark in the course, and all things you do relate to getting that mark, therefore a single project. But there are often many subprojects and open loops in the one project. As long as you have a good way to organise these, the use of subprojects works just fine. I use Microsoft Word to hold my project plans, and making a sub project is as easy as creating a sub heading and putting a smaller plan there.

              I have also changed to using tags to identify energy levels. Because I'm a knowledge worker, most of these tend to be types of mental tasks that all require the same mental energy - project management, planning, detailed, abstract, administration. I use the one tag (physical) for physical work, like moving boxes, etc. I find that this helps greatly when working for many hours, you can keep energy levels higher by changing energy types. For example, if you have been writing a report for an hour or two, change to doing an admin task or some abstract thinking to give yourself a change of pace, before going back to the writing.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by tomata23 View Post
                So if you were a student in one of your courses, would you want your list tool to provide a tree structure to represent what you need to be working on in the course?

                A mindmap might be helpful to see how concepts connect, and outlining can be helpful. These represent the state of my current understanding. You can consider them project reference material. Next actions are next actions, and can be in simple lists (which is what most students use if they use anything at all). Learning is usually non-linear, and often takes place at the frontier of our understanding. So reading assignments, problem sets, et cetera capture that frontier, the current reality. It might make sense to break out a term paper as a separate project, if it seems independent of the rest of the course.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                  A mindmap might be helpful to see how concepts connect, and outlining can be helpful. These represent the state of my current understanding. You can consider them project reference material.
                  That sounds similar to my set-up. (I'm a programmer.) I have one outline for project reference material that holds important information about how to perform various techniques that I've usually learned the hard way and don't want to forget. I have a second outline for planning projects and keeping track of my next actions. Everything there happens in the tree so that you can see a view of the big picture, but you can also flag certain items in the tree as actions (and pull all of the actions out in a separate flat list).

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Suelin23 View Post
                    I have also changed to using tags to identify energy levels. Because I'm a knowledge worker, most of these tend to be types of mental tasks that all require the same mental energy - project management, planning, detailed, abstract, administration. I use the one tag (physical) for physical work, like moving boxes, etc. I find that this helps greatly when working for many hours, you can keep energy levels higher by changing energy types. For example, if you have been writing a report for an hour or two, change to doing an admin task or some abstract thinking to give yourself a change of pace, before going back to the writing.
                    I think this is a great idea. When I get wrapped up in writing something it can be very easy to forget or ignore the physical stuff that would be a good break for my mind. Consciously mixing it up must help keep you from getting bogged down.

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                    • #11
                      I'm faculty too

                      Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                      I'm a university professor, and I assure you that my courses are projects.
                      I treat my college courses as projects too. Due date is the day the Registrar needs grades -- but when students need Incompletes, that needs to be adjusted I can't do clean-up like deleting physical and electronic files from my active projects area until the whole course is done.

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                      • #12
                        I have specific folders for important areas. Bear in mind the photos attached are in project view and not context.

                        This is simply for clarity and peace of mind.

                        Specifcally, the projects within are for individual different things within my class(es):

                        Group projects
                        individual readings
                        upcoming exam studying
                        online articles
                        podcasts to listen to
                        etc

                        Its proven useful, even at the behest of my poor studying skills.
                        Attached Files

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                        • #13
                          think carefully about course outcome from learner's perspective

                          You may have to do a mental little work on what you want from the course(s) to determine if the course is a project with sub-projects or an area of focus with several projects within.

                          I think it would help if you conceived of an array of outcomes for each course and wrote them out, albeit tentatively at first. While a good grade is desirable, that is really only a bench mark and there can be so much more.

                          Here are some examples, some unique to the subject matter-- but you will get the idea.

                          physics:
                          to see the everyday world from the viewpoint of mathematical laws
                          to become more at ease or maybe even proficient with quantitative reasoning
                          to have sufficient background to be be prepared of physical chem
                          to finally apply the calc I struggled with
                          to understand the arch in St Louise as written about by Osserman
                          or to get this premed requirement out of the way but retain enough for the mcats, and for understanding the electrophysiology of the brain (because I think I want to be a neurologist and treat seizure disorders)

                          music:
                          to meet this requirement while I have time to do so
                          to develop a musical vocabulary that I can use in other areas
                          (advanced) to learn to compose in the style of ____, even although I hate that style

                          humanistic psychology:
                          to develop comfort with concepts from the softer side of social science as demonstrated in a paper on _______, I know a lot about from a tough-minded perspective.

                          to learn about the human potential movement which I have heard has filtered into a lot of management training programs, what are the pitfalls, advantages, ethics?

                          accounting:

                          to have enough basic skill to put on my resume
                          to have enough skill to be the treasurer of the ski club

                          For a course taught by a famous person: to have a chance to be exposed the thinking of _________ whose critical reviews I have tried to read but only get the gist of.

                          Really almost anything goes but be honest with yourself. Education is so expensive and so valuable. A really good academic advisor can help you by asking probing questions and may also know how well-aligned the course might be with your goals or can refer you to someone who is. Even big state universities have people who can help in this way if you search for them.


                          It is wise to read and reflect on the purposes outlined by the instructor, as stated in the syllabus or the catalog. Some 101s are for people who will go on to major in that discipline and some are not. Some are more focused on quality of your mastery (art and design), some quantity (some psych classes are designed about mastering units--the more units you master, the higher your grade.





                          t

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