Introducing Flow and Timeboxing in College Curriculum

Being the writer, designer and a primary facilitator for the orientation courses for our university’s associate and bachelor courses has given me a wonderful opportunity to continually and iteratively improve the quality of the course for both student learning and faculty effectiveness. I note faculty effectiveness as crucial for any course design because student learning cannot be maximized if the faculty are overwhelmed with busy grading. If there is nothing else to justify curriculum designers, it is this balance of learner centered training and faculty guidance that is so important. I recently posted about my experience in systemic repair of the bachelor orientation course; this is about the associate orientation course. The success skills of adult learners are unique from traditional university because of the career, family, and hopefully some personal life that must be juggled along with the need for education made relevant to their experiences and constructive learning. Thus time consciousness (I dislike management used in this context) is an essential component that is addressed in the course.

Let’s look at the original assignment:

Read the following article on effective scheduling: (http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_07.htm).

Write a 1-2 page paper discussing any time management strategies you discovered to be personally helpful.

The following elements need to be thoroughly addressed in your paper:

  1. Describe at least three time management strategies that you feel are useful to you.
  2. Explain why each of these strategies is useful.
  3. Explain how you plan to implement time management strategies to improve the effectiveness of your activities.
  4. One reference is required for the Time Management Paper.
  5. Use the Paper Writing rubric provided in the syllabus to guide your efforts.
  6. Don’t forget to use the Title Page provided to you in the first week!

Submit the paper to the facilitator as an attachment in the drop box titled Time Management Paper.

The problem, after reading ineffective paper after ineffective paper is that people would discuss prioritizing, to do lists, and calendaring. All right, great, but is it working for them? Given the massive number of pleas for late work because of their incredibly overloaded life, I would say no. What could I do to help them discover new mindsets of controlling their lives? How many times did I think “Oh, if they only knew about Pomodoro Technique or Personal Kanban”…

Why it took me this long to figure that I was the lynchpin to introduce these wonderful techniques to students is beyond me. However, the victory is that it was finally realized. The first course with the following assignment was such a massive improvement.

Let’s look at the updated assignment:

It is important to spend short periods of time completely focused on a task and take regular breaks. Read www.pomodorotechnique.com.

It is also important to visual your progress on a larger scale as you perform what is often referred to as “pomodoros” discussed above. Personal Kanban is a method that allows you to see what work you are doing right now (in progress), what work you haven’t done yet but still needs addressed, and how efficiently you are completing the tasks! Read http://www.personalkanban.com/pk/personal-kanban-101/ and read through both that webpage and the Quick Links on that page.

Write a 2 page paper discussing how these techniques may be beneficial to you personally.

The following elements need to be thoroughly addressed in your paper:

  1. Explain the relationship between Pomodoro Technique and Personal Kanban…in other words, how do they work to complement each other?
  2. Describe the benefit that practicing the Pomodoro Technique might have in your personal life.
  3. Describe the benefit that practicing Personal Kanban might have in your personal life.
  4. Remember to properly reference these websites as you discuss what they present.
  5. Use the Paper Writing rubric provided in the syllabus to guide your efforts.
  6. Don’t forget to use the Title Page provided to you in the first week!

Submit the paper to the facilitator as an attachment in the drop box titled Time Management Paper.

I saved this blog post topic to grade the papers, and I am thrilled with the early results! Student after student discovered what some of us have assimilated so strongly in our lives that it’s no longer conscious. Being there for them with these light bulbs coming on is a reminder of why I teach! I could only smile for hours when one student noted:

I am trying to think of ways we can implement the Personal Kanban at my current work. How efficient it would be!

Planting the seeds in their personal lives will expand into their organizations, in my opinion. All of the papers demonstrated the student’s understanding of the relationship between Pomodoro and Personal Kanban, and reading about their intentions of applying to their personal lives is the signal to me that this assignment is finally effective and relevant for the learners!

Best of all? Students personally noted to me that they immediate purchased Personal Kanban (Benson & Barry, 2011) for futher understanding and application to their lives. Their excitement to find something and embrace it to this level is incredibly rewarding to me as a teacher and course writer.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.

Contact