Using a thesis project board
Thesis project boards are physical visualization tools that help folks with both planning and monitoring a Master or PHD thesis. They also are social tools: Being on display in an office or a living room, a project board will show others "where your are".
Project boards can be created with any sort of materials, e.g. a whiteboard or wall plus PostIts. In this article we will focus on boards made with Legos and that is described in the Lego-compatible thesis project board article
This experience has been conducted in 2012/2013 and may be renewed in the future. Currently, the purpose of this wiki page was twofold:
- Track the evolution of pilot user's appropriation of the concept
- Write down ideas, etc.
In November 2012, we started involving PhD students in the project.
Subject: PhD student in an earlier stage of thesis (project accepted by thesis commission)
User 1 went through several stages. Below we just summarize some elements:
Stages (so far, nov 2012 to March 2013)
- Used the project board
- Used a bigger standard Lego board in order to regroup, add extra handwritten bricks, add progress stairs.
- Use a still bigger standard Lego board in order to create connections, add "stories", etc.
- Destroyed the structure
- Designed visualization that focuses on a small set of essential current elements she is working on.
We define stage as a major shift. Within each stage, there have been variations that are just documented with pictures.
- nov 19 2012
- Includes labeling of chapters
- Adds a general progress indicator (stairs brought in from home)
- Identifies more issues
- Adds "play" bricks
- Two other PHD students want one
- nov 22 2012
- Adds connectors (the arcs) visualizing how a task and an issue and 2 issues are connected
- Uses extra bricks (e.g. a gate-in)
- Adds persona (thesis advisor, kids, ...)
- Identifies yet more issues
- Layout is often changed/updated (sometimes several times per day)
- This layout starts attracting other users for play. On 11/29 a colleague moved up the persona on the stairs.
January 8, 2013.
In the cloud. User feels that the project doesn't advance enough.
In addition, there is some focus on essential issues:
Subject: PhD student in an earlier stage of thesis (project accepted by thesis commission). Some literature review and development done.
User 2 shares office with user 1 and immediately wanted to work with a large board.
Nov 23 2012.
- Separated issues into two different kinds (these related and external/others)
- Associated chapter bricks with task bricks
The following pictures show a prototype after a few minutes into the "game"
8 January 2013
User 2 associated types of bricks next to each other and also added other artifacts
On february 2013, the same type of layout was used. Changes:
- A new visualisation of some kind of pilot using handles
- A broken link (pink arc that doesn't connect)
- Some progress meters going up
User three (on a short visit, from a different institution) was shown the boards from use 1 and 2, liked the idea. Since we didn't print any special purpose bricks, he only given standard Lego pieces:
- A medium-sized base plate
- 3x3 tiles
- 4x2 tiles
- 2x2 tiles
- 2x2 tiles with a question mark
His PHD project includes the design of a collaborative "knowledge tool", i.e. some kind of applied computer science, the kind that can be done in an interdisciplinary research lab....
Feb 26 2013 (about one week later)
- Schneider, Daniel, K. (2015). Visualisation de projets de thèse avec un dispositif physique et constructif. Actes de la conférence EIAH 2015, Agadir, Maroc. Preprint: http://tecfa.unige.ch/tecfa/talks/schneide/eiah-2015/Schneider_EIAH2015-lego-final.pdf
- Denio, Donna and Dieter Reuther (2016). Build to Lead, How Lego Bricks Can Make You a Better Leader, O'Reilly. Available online (free). http://www.oreilly.com/business/free/build-to-lead.csp