Real or made-up

Real or made-up

I teach a couple of project based courses (actually three now). Students who are working typically use projects from their work – which is encouraged as it gives them real-world applicability. However, students who are not in a position to use a work-related topic are forced to choose something that isn’t real world – something they make up based on other experiences – I usually encourage them to pick something that is hobby oriented.

I am wondering, however, if I should look to my network for ideas for potential projects. That is, I could ask people in my network if they had a project my students could work on. I’m sure I could find a few people willing to let an instructional designer take a stab at 3-weeks of online course content or a multimedia project. I could, but should I?

I’ve been debating this. It would give my students a chance to do something that is real-world, but would also possibly add a layer or coordination – and my courses are already considered a heavy workload. That being said, they could get valuable real-world experience and connect with people.

Then there is the whole work for free issue. This is something that is a special challenge. I don’t like the idea of taking away paid work because my students work for free – but also I don’t like that my students work for free either. I’d kind of like them to get a small stipend or something for their time. That being said, they need to build something – so they would be doing it anyways, and they would gain valuable work experience in the process.

What are your thoughts on bringing in real-world projects for students to work on as part of the course? I could do it, but should I?

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4 Replies to “Real or made-up”

  1. Rebecca I think that a real-world project would be a fantastic option in instructional design courses! But as an option for students who may not have an applicable project that they can work on in their own “real world.” As a student I have experienced both situations – in some courses I’ve been fortunate to blend work/school projects which is a very exciting win-win, but I’ve also been in courses where I would have welcomed an outside project. Creating something that may be used would be more motivating than a project that gets filed away when the course ends. Thanks for getting the idea out there!

  2. Rebecca,
    I agree that these type of projects are gold for students and ideally will be included at various points in the ID degree program. I wonder if there are some possible compromises that could give students the real-life experience while limiting your time coordinating the work. Could you give students a simulated client? Or give everyone in the class the same project for a real client? Or have everyone in the class work on a piece of a larger real project? Could your students join the Designers for Learning group ( for one of their sprints?

    1. Angie,
      Interesting that you mention the Designers For Learning organization. I just heard about them and have reached out to them for some options. I also have a lot of other connections – so might be able to find some other options. I do think they could provide an great opportunity if we can figure out how to make the timing align.

  3. Hi Rebecca,
    Valuable real-world experience and network connections are like gold to someone like me — taking my experience as educator and curriculum developer and applying skills to INDSG. Thank you for proposing this idea!
    Donna Stanton

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