**Collaboration
Exercise Instructions**

Use these instructions with
Collaboration Exercise PowerPoint Slides

This exercise is designed to be
an excellent ice-breaker at the beginning of a class and/or semester. The exercise also gives the students some
first-hand insight into different levels of collaboration when working in a
group or with pair programming.

The exercise consists of three
activities where the students will have to design: 1) a transportation device; 2)
a movie script; and 3) a robotic classroom assistant. In each activity, the
groups do their work in a different fashion, which will demonstrate various
forms of collaboration.

Students work in groups of 4,
ideally. You can modify the instructions
slightly to accommodate a group of 5, but it is best if your groups are at
least 4 due to the need for students to work in two's so a group of 3 would be
difficult. You can form groups and have
these same groups work together for all three activities. Or, you can form new groups of 4s for each
exercise for more ice breaker-ability.

**Preparation: **Have approximately four sheets of blank white paper for each person in
the class. Also, have one thin marker
(such as Vis a Vis) for each student. Students share their drawings with the class -- and their drawings will
not show up if they are drawn in pencil or regular pen.

**Activity 1:** **Designing a Transportation Device**

On slide 2,
you ask each student to individually design and draw a transportation device
that meets the specifications on the slide. In the first phase of the exercise, all students are to work alone
without conversing with any other classmates. The students can get about 3-5 minutes to
complete their design. Then, the
integration phase starts. You ask the
groups to start by telling each other what time they got up this morning and
rank ordering themselves based on their wake up time. Go to slide 3, tell them the group needs to
integrate their designs into one transportation device using the braking system
from student 1, the restraint system from student 2 and so forth. Inevitably the students start to laugh and
end up drawing some nonsensical transportation device. The integration takes about another 5
minutes.

When the
integration is done, go around the room. Have each student present their own product. After each person in a group has presented
their product, ask someone to present their integrated design.

Lessons to
bring out: First, ask the students what
they learned through the exercise. If
they don't bring the following points out -- discuss them yourself. All students read the same specification yet
each drew something totally different. As a result, the transportation devices are hard to integrate into a
good product. The same thing can happen
if they work in teams and don't talk to each other. Another aspect to bring out is that when they
worked alone, the room was silent, and they didn't have much fun. Once they started working together, they
started laughing and enjoying themselves much more.

**Activity 2**: **Designing a Movie Script**

You can
either keep the same groups or switch them now. On slide 4, you can find the specifications for a movie script. Go
over the specifications. Tell the
students that they will work in pairs to come up with a script. If you have an odd number of students, have
groups of three and no one works alone. Give
the pairs about 5-7 minutes to come up with a script. They just write bullet notes down on their
paper, not full paragraphs. Ask the
students to then decide which pair is Pair 1 and which is Pair 2. Tell the students to share their stories with
the other group (3-4 minutes to share the stories) and then integrate according
to the instructions on slide 4 (3 minutes).

When the
integration is done, go around the room. Have each pair present their own story. After each pair in a group has presented their story, ask someone to
present their integrated story to the class.

Lessons to
bring out: First, ask the students what
they learned through the exercise. If
they don't bring the following points out -- discuss them yourself. It should be been easier to integrate two
parts rather than four parts in the first exercise. The integrated story MIGHT fit together better
since there were only two parts to integrate. Finally, you can remark that the stories created by the pairs were
probably more creative than the first designs done by individuals in Activity
1. Collaboration is good for creativity.

**Activity 3: Designing a Robotic Classroom Assistant
**

You can
either keep the same groups or switch them now. On slide 5, you can find the specifications for a robotic classroom
assistant. Go over the
specifications. If the students have
switched groups since Activity 1, ask them to decide who is student 1, 2, 3, and
4. Each person has one aspect of the product
they "own." They collaborate with their
teammates to get their input on their aspect. Ultimately, the owner makes the decision on that aspect of the product. In this exercise, the students will rotate
who they are working with every 2 minutes. During the first iteration, students 1 and 2
talk about how to monitor the number of people in the room and how to get student's
attention, and students 3 and 4 talk about the other aspects. After 2 minutes, the pair switch and each
student talks about what they own and what their collaborator owns. Finally the pairs switch again. After the final iteration, the room is quiet
again and each student must draw the entire classroom assistant as they know it
base upon their conversations with their team mates, taking about 2-3
minutes. Then, the team integrates into
one product based upon the specification of each owner.

When the
integration is done, go over the exercise with the class. At this point, it is too tedious for each
student to present their product. Ask
each group to present product and to comment on how different the integrated
product is from that of the individual team members.

Lessons to
bring out: First, ask the students what
they learned through the exercise. If
they don't bring the following points out -- discuss them yourself. Discuss the fact that when pairs rotate
around, each team member has a better view of the product as a whole. If one person on the team dropped out, the
rest of the team could more easily make up for the loss since several people at
least partially understand the aspect of the system owned by the person who
left. This is a good risk management
strategy, particularly in industry. Also, each person got input from several other team members on their
aspect of the product and was likely to have a better, more creative aspect based
upon the input of several team members.

Activity
designed by Laurie Williams and Lucas Layman, North Carolina State University.

Please send
feedback and instructions to williams@csc.ncsu.edu

copyright: Laurie
Williams and Lucas Layman, 2007