Over the last century, so much has changed in how students learn. From inkwells and chalkboards to Bluetooth dictation apps and tablets, the way lessons are conveyed has evolved with the times, economy, and technology. The constants are the presence of teachers, students, and that there is always something to learn. But with more and more demands being put on the modern student, keeping track of the tasks and assignments becomes increasingly challenging. Daily to-do lists and well-organized whiteboards are handy for a glance, but for larger projects or long-term assignments, something more detailed is essential for a student’s sanity.
In this second instalment of our Industry of the Month focus for August is Education (first post here), we share how students use Teamwork Projects. We interviewed our intern, Anthony Holmes, who used Teamwork Projects for a group project in school a year ago (before he became a Teamwork.com intern). Then we took his insight and profiled how Ph.D. students could use project management software to best support their work process.

An Interview about Small Group Projects

Q: What are your biggest time management demands?
Anthony: Tasks have deadlines and people expect certain things to be done within a certain time. When things aren’t organised properly, it is very easy to fall behind on work. Time management is crucial for me.
Q: What low-tech approach to tasks do you love?
Anthony: Most of my work is done on a computer, so I like to reconnect with my real low-tech side sometimes by going back to paper and pen. No matter how long you try and figure out a solution to a problem, writing down a potential solution and going through it step-by-step really helps.
Q: When did you start using Teamwork Projects?
Anthony: Aside from my work as a summer intern here at Teamwork.com, I am in third year in University College Cork studying Computer Science. I came across Teamwork Projects in July 2014, but back then I was just starting to know all the features it has. In my first semester, we had to break into groups of three. This was a prerequisite for the real project we had to undertake after Christmas. We used Teamwork Projects for both the prerequisite and the real project.
Q: Why did you choose Teamwork Projects to help run your school project?
Anthony: Collectively, as a group both before and after Christmas, we had to vote for a project management site. I suggested Teamwork Projects for a few reasons:

  • Supporting an Irish company.
  • Has many excellent features which we needed.
  • It was free!! We used a free account which offered more space than we needed.

Q: How did you set up your Teamwork Projects to meet your needs as a student?
Anthony: Back in July 2014 I opened a free account with Teamwork.com to see what it was like and I found it was a nice tool to use. While I didn’t use it at the time I wanted to see what Teamwork.com did and its product. At the time of writing Teamwork.com now has three products. In my first semester for the prerequisite project we used only the notebook section of Teamwork Projects, it was a team of three so it was easy to maintain what work what people did in the notebook. After Christmas, the team completely changed to a team of five. We had to start this project so we needed a proper organised system for it. If we didn’t use Teamwork Projects properly we definitely wouldn’t have got as good of a mark as we did.
Q: What kind of student group project did you manage with Teamwork Projects?
Anthony: Our project had many different aspects. We had to build a product for college that could’ve been realistically implemented if done to a high standard. Individually, we had to do personal reports and also a collective group report. We used the Gantt chart, initially, to plan out what we want done at what stage in the project, we used the Gantt again as we progressed through the project and logging the time if we were over/under schedule. We used the notebooks for our reports, both individual and group. The versioning aspect of the notebook was excellent. We could revert back to an older version if we wanted to. It also gave me an outlook of what I got done on a weekly basis. Eventually, my personal report turned out to be a 31-page PDF file. Similar to notebook versioning, we used the file versioning in conjunction to Github. We had to give our lecturer access to our project management site to make sure work was being done. We would have regular file commits on Github and, at the end of the week, we would update the file on Teamwork Projects and a corresponding notebook with the list of changes done in the past week. We regularly assigned tasks to each other and marked them off as done as they were completed. We used milestones for the three different presentations we had to undertake.
Q: What are your favorite features or elements in Teamwork Projects?
Anthony: When we used Teamwork Projects we only scratched the surface of the amazing features it has such as time tracking, task reminders, and the iOS app. It was only towards the end of the group project that we really saw all of Teamwork Projects for what it is worth. My favourite element about Teamwork Projects is definitely the versioning. It helped me to track my own work on a weekly basis. If I knew back at the start of the project what I know about Teamwork Projects now, we could’ve really put it through its paces. Another aspect of Teamwork Projects I like is the sub-tasks. It was nice to break up the workload of a particular problem and assign them to different people. We were able to set due dates and dependent tasks, so all team members knew that we couldn’t carry on with particular parts of the project without them getting their work done.
Q: If you could sum up your feelings about and happiness for Teamwork Projects in three sentences, what would you say?
Anthony: Teamwork Projects is a juggernaut of a product and goes way beyond expectations. You guys have set the standard in project management software and are constantly adding new features. Definitely, I will be using Teamwork Projects for any future projects.

Ph.D. Programs

Students at all levels of education can make use of the multi-level fully-integrated features within Teamwork Projects. Ph.D. students especially have a long road of studies, research, writing, and rewriting to walk and defining and documenting the tasks within each step of the process helps not only take the stress off but also get that feel-good satisfaction of finishing items along the way. With task lists, tasks, sub-tasks, and sub-sub-tasks, Ph.D. students can detail everything from outlining the dissertation to double-checking new data and trends to make sure you haven’t missed anything. The beauty of Teamwork Projects is the flexibility in how you use features and thoughtfully-coded elements.
Whether you choose to create one project with multiple task lists and related tasks or one project with multiple task lists, the key is separating out the tasks and steps of the Ph.D. and dissertation process. We set up a sample account to test out how it would work within one project, with task list contents organized by academic year. Though we realize the entire process of earning a Ph.D. can be lengthy and sometimes feels never-ending, at least managing the tasks keeps your brain power free for actual studies and research, not just remembering what’s due when. And with the recurring task feature, meetings, research deadlines, and regular due dates won’t slip by unnoticed. As much as you wish they were not taking over your life.
  How PhD students use Teamwork Projects | Teamwork.com The High Performance Blog
And after those years of courses, studying, research, meetings, and critiques, you get to the final stretch – the dissertation. Every step can be mapped out with start dates and end dates into a tidy little package.
How PhD students use Teamwork Projects to manage dissertation demands | Teamwork.com The High Performance Blog

Cheering You On

We aren’t in your shoes right now, but our team knows how intense school can be and the important thing to manage the stress of academic demands if often to organize the demands, note the deadlines, and detail all the little steps that will get you to completion. Because then instead of racing to meet a deadline that snuck up on you, you’re one step ahead and on top of the world! Or at least on top of your workload.
If you’re a student using Teamwork Projects, we’d love to know how you use the features. Let us know!