Post-project Analysis

This is the only project deliverable that is an individual submission.  Each student will discuss their experience with the project, including an analysis of the team’s collaboration, what was learned, ideas about future work, and ideas about other DH applications (5%).  Emailed as a Word attachment to your instructors by Saturday, May 17 at 5 p.m. (end of final exam period).

Objectives:

  1. Each student analyzes the project objectively and learns from the project’s successes and failures (or maybe just non-successes).
  2. Each student analyzes their personal digital humanities experience and the future of digital humanities.

Project Analysis

It is important for each team member to review the project’s history, analyzing its positive and negative aspects. Typically such reviews are called post-project reviews or “postmortems”. The goal of a postmortem is to draw meaningful conclusions to help you learn from your successes and failures. (Remember: good judgment comes from experience.) Despite its grim-sounding name, a postmortem can be an extremely productive method of improving your development practices.

Each team member will analyze his/her experience. You may meet as a team to refresh your collective memory about the project’s timeline and how specific key decisions were made, but the analysis itself should be written individually. This document should not attempt to assign blame.

Your analysis will address three distinct topics:

  1. a technical evaluation of the project’s code and design
  2. an evaluation of the progress and decisions made by your team
  3. an attempt to assess your overall effort

This should be an honest, thoughtful reflection that aims to identify specific actions that either helped or hurt later in the process. Additionally, it can demonstrate your knowledge of the design concepts of the course that may not be easily represented in other project documentation.

At least the following sections must be included in your analysis. Questions are provided to get you started thinking about what to consider within each section, you may include anything else you feel is relevant. In other words, do not be limited by these questions but include them at least.

Project Conclusions
What conclusions can you draw from analyzing your project? List both successes and shortcomings in your design.

  • Which parts of the design required the most rework?
  • Which parts of the implementation required the most rework?
  • What problems occurred most frequently?
  • What problems were most time-consuming?
  • What can you do to reduce the occurrence of those problems in your future projects?
Collaboration
Analyze the team’s ability to collaborate, interaction, and productivity.

  • How easy or difficult was collaborating as a team?
  • What tools (as in what functionality) would have been helpful?
  • What could you have anticipated/planned for better to make collaboration easier?
  • For each team member, indicate the tasks (e.g., design, implementation, analysis, data collection, writing, managing the group’s efforts, etc.) that each team member performed and the percent of the total project work that you believe each team member performed.
  • Were the appropriate people assigned to all project roles?
  • Were the appropriate number of people assigned to all project roles?
  • Any final comments about the group’s interaction/productivity?
Future work
No project is ever completely finished. Discuss at least three parts of your project that still need fixing, that you wish you could understand better, or could be extended or made more flexible.

  • If you could improve one part that would have the most impact on the project’s usefulness, functionality, or usability, what would it be?
  • What would you do next if you had more time to work on your project? Do you intend to pursue it any further after the course is over?

Personal Evaluation

The goal of taking any course is to learn and one of the best ways to learn is by doing. Your project is one way of showing off what you learned, but it is in the nature of computational projects that the final product does not always accurately reflect what you learned along the way. In the previous section we asked you not only to discuss what you created, but to do so with a critical eye, as a working member of the Digital Humanities community. In this section we want you to focus on the experience of becoming a member of this community and reflect on how it has changed you. Here are some questions that might help inform that discussion:

  • What did you learn about digital and computational methods and tools? Do you think those lessons will generalize to other areas?
  • Were you surprised by any of the results? Do you feel like the tools helped you discover things that you might not have otherwise discovered?
  • What did you learn about yourself, especially with regard to working on large projects?
  • What would you do differently if you were starting over? Will your experience inform projects that you do in future classes?

Digital Humanities

As you are aware, this course represents a first step for Washington and Lee.  Over the course of the semester, we have examined both the potential and the pitfalls of the Digital Humanities, and you have had a chance to immerse yourself in a Digital Humanities project. Spend a paragraph or two reflecting on the relationship of computation to the humanities–good and/or bad. Academia will be grappling with the issue of whether “computational literacy” is an essential part of a liberal arts education for years to come, and this is your chance to share some thoughts on that issue.