The Bachelor of IT at Otago Polytechnic has included a 45-credit capstone project in the third year and a preparatory Software Engineering course covering Agile techniques for approximately a decade. This Project course was intended to consolidate and practice the skills that learners had developed throughout the technical and soft skill courses making up the rest of the programme, and to prepare learners for the work environment in the IT industry (BIT programme document, 2009).
In about 2018, lecturers on the Project course began to observe a lack of technical and collaborative confidence in many learners which often prevented them from producing any useful contribution to their projects. This prompted some changes in the way Software Engineering was taught in order to try to better prepare learners for the unfamiliar environment of the Project course, which seemed to serve only to extend the problem further back by one semester.
When the BIT came up for review in 2020 the issue of readiness for Project – and therefore readiness for entering the workforce – was a central focus and the proposed approach was to begin coached, scaffolded and carefully curated Project-like learning starting from the first day of the programme. The new series of courses was called “Studio” to distinguish the approach from purely “Project-Based Learning”, although PBL (Kokotsaki, 2016) makes up part of the approach.
Elise Allen is a senior lecturer in Web Development, Software Engineering, User Experience Design and Professional Practice in the Bachelor of Information Technology programme at Otago Polytechnic. Her current areas of interest include experiential learning, ‘Agile’ practices, industry workflows in the classroom and studio-based learning for technology subjects.