In my reflective report I intend to discuss what I have learnt during and as a result of the completion of the website project. Furthermore, due to the need for proper induction supported virtually, I intend to investigate and analyse additional and alternative ways of providing interactive induction as well as improve my knowledge in project management.
During the analysis stage of the project, I brainstormed many ideas for the website. I came up with most of the project ideas, but my team helped me with a few of them. I had a bit of trouble coming up with these ideas because I am not a very creative person, and it took me days to brainstorm all of the ideas. I think that was the only roadblock that I faced throughout the project.
I also made a lot of decisions during the planning section of my project. I decided with the group the basic layout of the website. I suggested it being as simple and accessible as possible - because making a website which is disorganized doesn't make a difference - what matters is the website to be informative and easily accessible. It might make the website to appear simple on outside but it will be informative from inside.
The project was progressing smoothly. I took the necessary steps to make sure that the project progresses steadily as my group had the basic idea of what we want the website to look like. I was aware that the thing that will consume most of the time in designing the website will be to put information on different pages of the website. Although, this I think was the only roadblock while planning & creating the basic template of the website. Other than that, the basic planning and creating of the website template did not have any roadblocks. But now as my team had the idea of "what" in the website, I felt more confident that we will be able to do well all throughout the project.
As far as the project was progressing, I feel that I have been very effective in coming up with these interesting ideas that helped my team and I believe that all the steps I took were useful and necessary in the process. If I were to do the analysis of my project again, I'd come up with different project ideas that were more interesting to me. I would also contact different stakeholders involved in the project, so that I have more options.
As a team leader as well as the member of the project team, I suggested what will go on each of the pages. I wanted the website to be as simple as possible, while still retaining its professional look. I suggested using tabs on each page to create "sub-pages". This eliminates extra, unneeded pages.
For example - On the "Home" page, I will simply have the most important information published. This will help to make the students aware about the university, information about ways to contact university and Induction checklist which specifically will be useful for students to make sure that things are done as per the requirements in compliance with the rules & regulations of the University.
On the same page will be tabs for different links to University website which will again be useful to direct the students appropriately to the required information. I personally believe that these pages will perform the task of being simply informational. They won't have any attractive features, but I think these can be developed later. At present, I was just focusing on making the website functional enough so that those who will use it must be satisfied.
Being the team leader of the project has provided me a great opportunity to develop the skills and experience to learn about project management. Overall from the project, I have learned to write project reports, to think critically, to problem solving, to work in a team, and also improve my interpersonal skills, communication skills, especially working in a team and coordinating within the team throughout the project. I have also learned to use different software's and programs that were required for the majority of the work, these includes; Dreamweaver, Photoshop, UML etc. This will greatly benefit my productivity in the coming modules. What this brings to my theoretical knowledge is that, I have gained real experience. I've gained the understanding of managing projects.
Kolb's Learning Cycle:
I have tried to reflect my learning experience during the project with Kolb's learning cycle:
I have been receptive towards learning throughout the project. My involvement in discussions helped me in understanding my imaginative ability. Working with my team members provided me a good understanding of people & I have been able to recognise problems with my ideas and an effective solution of brainstorming my ideas.
During the project there were situations wherein I had to analyse problems and provide solutions. Some problems I faced during the project were linked with the working styles of team members. I had to make sure that each member had a clear idea of what were we going to deliver. I have observed that creating an environment wherein collaborative working that guides you towards the aim is a hard task to manage but with help of knowledge that I gained from the change management module, I was able to manage the change within the team.
Decision making has been a major part of the project work. \during different sections of the project, I tried to adopt consensus approach to be effective but I dealt with difficulties as every member of the group should agree with the decision. This approach of decision making involved a great deal of time, however the agreed decision helped me to get the best possible decision as all the team members worked together and supported it .
I have been able to lead to lead the team which helped me in improving my competency as a team leader. I kept setting the goals & deadlines during the project. I have been able to identify and implement the steps necessary to achieve them. Working closely with Rupert & Dave helped me in translating the set goals into practical vision.
Shown below are some skills that I gained during my project in the pre-requisite format:
C1Adopt the standard practices of an school in terms of , hours of work, punctuality, and school policies and procedures (including health, safety and security standards).
I have been punctual throughout the project for discussions, meetings etc.
F1. Understand a specification (informal, structured or formal).
Understand the specification
I have reviewed the team's specification for the website.
D3 Demonstrate self-motivation and enthusiasm.
I have been spending extra hours on designing the new system.
G3. Take responsibility, and display some leadership qualities, within a group or team.
I have been able to lead to lead the team which helped me in improving my competency as a team leader.
D1. Interview users to establish requirements.
During the project, I had discussions with different stakeholders ( Admissions office, International office, Accommodation office etc) which helped me in analysing the requirements.
F6. Become proficient in a programming language/environment.
I had a bit of experience working with HTML but during the project I learned how to use Dreamweaver along with HTML while coding the website.
Â F1. Think and act effectively and independently.
Contributed different ideas
I4. Develop a self-critical awareness of own achievements and progress.
I have learnt to think more critically in the project. I did a lot of work and solved a lot of problems. I learn to think a head, plan and be prepared. The main examples of critical thinking applied include; mentoring my team, to research university websites, to organize all materials for the group and a whole lot of other minor tasks.
G5. Offer help and guidance to peers when appropriate.
Coaching and mentoring
Coaching peers through descriptions and explanation developed my skills. Mentoring support to colleagues.
J3. Develop new skills quickly.
Helped me to recognise personal development needs and take personal responsibility for continuous learning
E2. Display tact, discretion or assertiveness to inspire respect and confidence in a colleague, a user or a team member.
Ability to communicate effectively between team members.
Ability to effectively question stakeholders.
Ability to write reports
P2. Ensure that appropriate, current software is available, loaded and working.
After uploading the website, I checked all the links, pages individually to make sure that the website is working properly.
H5. Undertake more than one task or play more than one role at the same time.
Planning and organizing
Ability to effectively plan and organise workload to meet deadlines
Q2. Design questionnaire/survey.
I designed questionnaires for survey as well as for induction checklist.
I2. Make appropriate decisions with assurance and accept responsibility for them.
I have been clear in thinking and stayed focused under pressure.
G1. Demonstrate and maintain co-operative and helpful relationships with all employees.
The experience has exposed me to people with different background. I had one of the most satisfying experiences with them. I'd never thought I will meet some really nice people and made a good number of friends.
G1. Demonstrate and maintain co-operative and helpful relationships with all employees.
Team working Skills
I have been collaborative with others towards common goals and reach agreements. For Example, I have shown fairness and consideration to my team members by taking responsibility; showing constructive support, etc
F3. Contribute creative ideas and proposals to improve task management and the success of a project.
The project also improved my creative thinking by connecting my own and others' ideas and experiences together in inventive ways to generate more ideas, explore possibilities and ask questions to extend my thinking.
D1. Interview users to establish requirements.
Analysing different aspects
During the project, i tried to ask questions that helped me to identify some gaps in the existing processes. For Example - with Joanne Ryan from the international office, I presented my idea to her in recognizing some gaps and also gave my personal suggestion.
G1. Develop and maintain a project plan.
With my project, I now set my work deadline and me and the people in my group share the work and set time. For example 1 piece of work should take 10 minutes but then a different piece of work can take 20 minutes, so if we work it out, it won't take as long because we share the work at set times to get it done, that way we don't forget to do things.
D3. Demonstrate self-motivation and enthusiasm.
Before I did not used to have full confidence of managing a team, but now I have gained more confidence by leading the group.
A5.Deal with problems of appropriate technical complexity.
I have learned how to use videos, images & podcasts in the website
J4.React to an unpredicted situation with respect to team ground rules.
Made efforts for problems to resolve. Planned and carried out research to explore issues, events or problems from different perspectives.
D2. Search through existing records etc. to understand existing systems.
I analysed and evaluated information, judging its relevance and value.
Overall during the project, my progress was smooth in general, with some rough parts. Most of the time, I knew what I was doing, and I was following my Plan of Action. The only times my progress became rough was when I changed parts of the website halfway through the create stage, because I decided that they were not good enough.
One major roadblock that I dealt with throughout the course of my project was the fact that I limited myself to the main page where in I tried to provide students a gateway to services offered by the University. This was a roadblock because I had to decide how to manage and organize all the different pieces of information I needed to put on the other pages. It took me a while to figure out what to put where, but eventually, using tabs fixed the problem.
In the end, after so much hard work, I along with my team successfully developed a virtual induction model. The website is complete and we tested it several times individually as well as together. I believe that the final product mostly matches the original goal. Our goal was to create a website that should be both attractive and useful to the University and prospective students. Although I don't yet know how useful my website is for prospective but I believe that it will be useful to students in finding out about upcoming events, find appropriate links, look at videos, podcasts, photos, and many other things.
In terms of the aesthetic qualities of the website, I think that it looks really good because the color scheme that we choose is similar to the University website which is very attractive to anyone who looks at the website. In terms of practical qualities of my website, I believe that I achieved exactly what I have been striving for: sophistication without complication. Now, anyone who views the website can find information very easily, because they only have to choose from main buttons. Although there is a lot of information on the website, I think that it has been placed in an easy-to-use format.
My efficiency during the project probably left something to be desired. I believe that although I was on schedule most of the time, I could have definitely been more efficient. One way I could have done this is to have actually mapped out which days I would work on which components, instead of simply assigning due dates. Most of the time, I finished each component on the due date, when I could have finished earlier.
In terms of involvement, I worked on different components of the website. I also modified parts of it when needed. I can probably say that I "actively" created the project with my team. I believe that the project meets the original intent, and it is a success.