This is my last semester of college as a student at Plymouth State University, and the first semester that Signature Project courses are being offered.
I’m fortunate enough to be pretty “in the loop” on the new things going on at Plymouth State. If I hadn’t known professors directly involved with the Signature Projects, I’m not sure I would have known that they existed, since they are pretty tricky to find on the course registration portal.
Even now, in the middle of the semester, many of my peers have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention “Signature Projects”.
I was interested in the Signature Project courses as soon as I heard about them. As a senior, having a course with a project to show off at the end was attractive. I also have an interest in open education, and the idea of taking a project-based course with a public work component fit nicely with that.
After some last-minute changes to my schedule, I chose to take the Signature Project course titled “Designing Online and Face-to-Face Experiences for New PSU Students”.
I’m kind of neurotic about the courses I take, so choosing which Signature Project to register for was a big deal to me.
These are the points I took into consideration when I decided on the “Designing Online and Face-to-Face Experiences for New PSU Students” section:
1. I could clearly see that the course would work well with a project-based model. Just from the course title, I could imagine several hypothetical projects that could fit it.
2. The course was relevant to Plymouth State University. Plymouth has been pushing hard on its new cluster pedagogy model, and the Signature Project courses are a big part of the redesigned general education program. In my head, these factors combined meant that this course would receive a considerable amount of attention from the university. Because of this, I felt like the course’s projects wouldn’t just die off somewhere.
3. The course description gave a clear list of skills that would be useful for the project in mind. Among those skills were “writing” and “technology design”. As an English major with some general technology skills, this was huge for me, because it meant that I could play to my strengths while doing more than writing articles and papers.
4. While I didn’t know the professor very well, I knew that they were someone invested in students. I have a lot of respect for that.
5. The class size was small (under 10 people), but not so small that it seemed counterproductive (more than three people). As someone who really wanted to be in the course, I was concerned about having a large class size with students who weren’t thrilled with it. Having under 10 classmates seemed promising, because it’s small enough to revitalize if things stagnated.
6. The course fit well with my schedule. I needed to make time for work. This is relevant because I was an INCH away from taking a different Signature Project course (one that would work on the new art exhibit being designed at PSU). That course also hit on most of the above points that made me take the “Designing Experiences” class – but it just didn’t work with my schedule.
If my Signature Project course hadn’t hit the above points, I’m not sure if I would have given it a chance. Senior year is busy, and when I was creating my schedule and registering for classes, I had to make sure I was using my time wisely, and setting myself up for success after graduation.
So far, the course hasn’t let me down – but I’ll have more on that in another update.