Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Students owning space

Let me tell you why this sign makes me happy.

A few weeks ago, we had a ScrumMasters Community of Practice meeting in 3:15 Studio (which consists of the students in my CS315 class). There are four teams within the studio, each with its own ScrumMaster. The goals of this CoP meeting were to facilitate the ScrumMastering process and identify any inter-team issues.

The student ScrumMasters mentioned that, especially towards the end of the sprint, the lab gets quite crowded. The University scheduled CS315 for 2–3PM MWF, and so this is the time that everyone in the studio is working on the project. About 1/4 work in the classroom where the course is official scheduled, and 3/4 move up to the lab, which is much more conducive to small-group work. At the CoP meeting, the students suggested putting up some signs claiming the priority is given to CS315 students at 2–3PM MWF. However, this is technically what some might call "unauthorized use of the lab as a teaching space," and so the students don't really have preference during this time slot, not in the letter of the law anyway. I recommended that the students come up with signs that convey what they want, and then work with the department chair to have them approved.

When I first brought up official signage with the department administration, they were not too keen on it, mostly because we don't really have an official lab usage policy. The machines are configured so that only our majors can sign on, but otherwise, there is no real regulation of the space. However, when I informed the administration that it was the students who wanted to put up signs—not me—they became more interested in the process.

One of the student ScrumMasters drafted a reasonable poster on Monday, and I gave him some feedback from my perspective as a faculty member. He made some edits and sent it to the chair, who made some further changes and then approved its posting. Today, the student posted the notice. Perhaps to him and the other students, it was a mundane occurence, but to me it was significant. It was a sign that the students took ownership of this collaborative work space, that they felt they are stakeholders in departmental resources, and that they can define how these resources are used for the betterment of their education.

Kudos to you, 3:15 Studio, for being exemplars of learning in the campus community!

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