EVO: Measurable Value in the Classroom

The other week as part of the summer conversion MSc group project preperations I took the Measurable Value case study by Ryan Shriver and turned it into a working example that the students needed to work through. This exercise worked, but could’ve been better. Ryan also gave me permission to make use of his example as I wanted, so I reused his materials where it seemed appropriate. Thanks Ryan!

Shriver works through a clear voluntary organistion example, and provides the answers along the way, as you do with an article. I decided that the students would need to hunt for their answers amongst some worksheets that I would give them. After looking round I found some similar materials  centered around Impact GiveBack, and some relevant news items that I could reduce to workable data. With this in hand we could then work through Shriver’s six steps of Evo.

The other links that had usable background information were: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121554292423936539.html http://www.newsweek.com/id/62168 (26 Oct 2007 issue) http://www.slate.com/id/2183542/pagenum/all/#p2 and some made up data about goals for volunteer hours and donations that I extrapolated from the data found elsewhere. This meant that the students had something to look through in their hands, and didn’t need to go hunting on the internet to find information. Hmm, that might be interesting to do as part of an ongoing project perhaps, if each team had to do an extended scenario.

Earlier in the day I’d gone through a reduced slideset of  a talk by Tom Gilb in October 2007 to put Evo into context and explain how it approached software engineering and project management. This seemed to go fine, and followed other discussions about waterfall and agile approaches in general. Therefore the general groundwork was laid we were explaining why Evo is required, and how it is used in conjunction with agile projects.

Working through the six steps that Shriver sets out, and approaching the case study the same way that he did, worked well. I could set up the issue and then point the students to the handouts which they discussed in groups around tables. After ten minutes or so, then I gathered up answers on the blackboard and we discussed the solutions provided for that step. Instead of gathering up solutions verbally, a better approach might be to have the teams submit written solutions, which could then be merged at the front of the classroom, so that no group feels there solution was ignored because another group listed it before them.

The only problem encountered was with creating workable impact estimation tables based on Shriver’s spreadsheets. I showed them his examples and how they could be used. A better job next time would be to prepare his examples a bit further, and clarify how the IET relates to the data from our examples, instead of showing completed ones for his example, which was similar, but not quite the same. Providing partially completed ones would mean that they could then fill in the rest per the data they have for the scenario, instead of reading what’s on the ones Shriver used.

All in all, this worked, and I’ll definately use it again next year after I make the suggestions noted above. Having people work through the scenario themselves gives them a feel for the approach, and how it is applied. Having a reading to take away that uses an example similar to the one they worked through themselves is priceless. So far so good, and the projects now seem to be starting off without too much trouble.

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