I have been teaching the HSC SDD course for over 10 years. I have always had project work as a major focus and driver of the learning throughout the 2 years. In the HSC, students spend over 6 months, developing a software solution for a (real) client and problem. The students have 3 components they are formally assessed on, a project proposal (what), a design (how) and finally the coded program.
The projects this year were outstanding, with a number of projects at an industry level. Each project was based around the development of a dynamic website for a client using the Php programming language and MySQL The projects produced included:
- A website to enable people to store and share recipes with family members
- A website to retrieve, collate and share all your videos you watch on the internet
- A inventory program to track orders and stock
- A flip card study program where you could create and share your own study notes
- A website to enable people to create and share cocktail recipes
- A tourist business’s job tracking program to provide details of bookings to their tour guides
- An online portal to track installation jobs for the employees of a garage door installation company
- A gaming website to enable spectators to see the scores of an online game
- A administration interface for an online game to help manage the users of the game
- Administration interface for a music band website
My HSC students have just finished their final part of the project, which included submission of the final coded software and an exhibition of their project. Students had their software programs set up and people wandered around the room looking at each product. The students had to explain and demonstrate their projects. I even had one of my (non-computing) colleagues assess the students ability to communicate about their project and answer questions.
What a buzz the exhibition generated!
The exhibition reminded me why I do projects; the level of engagement, feedback, learning, understanding and experiences of the students just can not be replicated by a textbook nor the best teacher explanations! Every student owned their experience, their problems, their understanding and they all succeeded!
An audience was such an important part of the project. It made it real for the students, it included
- parents (they get to see what their child has been doing late into the night)
- teachers at my college (they get a better understanding of my subject and see a different side to some of the students)
- year 11 SDD students (showing them what they would be doing in a year)
- for the first time I had people from my PLN, including teachers and people from industry.
Yes, there were doubts and stress, especially over the last few weeks (for both the students and me). Were they on track, would they finish, was I expecting too much.. .
Project work is worth it. Those students all walked out after the exhibition, proud of what they had produced. They were able to communicate about what they had made and every one has a deeper level of knowledge of the processes and skills involved in the development of a product. This is more than what will be examined in the HSC exam, these are skills they will use throughout their lives.