Thursday, November 24, 2016

Trello - workflow software

If you have students who need to organise their tasks in complex outcomes then you might well want to look at Trello. It's a useful planning and productivity tool for individuals that is also particularly good for groups.

Here's a 5 minute overview: http://help.trello.com/article/899-getting-started-video-demo

Trello is not the only option for this kind of productivity software, but it is widely used because it is powerful and intuitive to use. And free!

"Sign up with Google" is a Trello option that works with our student accounts. I insist that students do this so there's no danger of forgetting passwords etc.

The Trello website has excellent resources on how to use it https://trello.com/guide but I want to share how it can work in the classroom. A picture says a thousand words, so here's two thousand words worth. These are screenshots of "Live" Trellos actually being used by students.



The minimum useful columns for an agile Trello are "To Do", "Doing" and "Done" but there's no rules - go with whatever works for the students, and let them decide for themselves. Once they've got these columns they can start breaking down the project into cards in the "To Do" column.

Students often need guidance in breaking down tasks. I find that if I don't do this, students will create very general cards such as "Do all graphics" or "Complete game", which are actually no help in chunking and allocating tasks.

Students working in a group will share a single Trello board. One option is for each card to be assigned to a person, but in a small group or small project this is probably unnecessary.

You can use labels to colour code different categories of task (i.e., we often have a "Programming" label and an "Asset creation" label). Again, this might just be unnecessary overhead for smaller projects.

As you can see from the screenshots, Trello is being used here in an authentic way that actually contributes to a high-quality outcome. These students are using the tool because they see the value in it, not because I told them to.

The Trello mobile app is great. What can work well is to set up most of the Trello board on a "proper" computer, and then use your phone as a quick and easy way to update status of tasks.

Finally, don't overlook the value of Trello in your own life! I've found Trello to be genuinely helpful when completing complex tasks such as organising school trips or getting renovations done. Try it for yourself and you'll have a much better idea of how to use it with students