Ed Tech UI Guy

Friday, January 21, 2005

Releasing on time vs. releasing complete

I spent most of last week at a Sakai summit in Indianapolis, with all of the architects, all the designers and all of the board members. The meeting was pretty rough, but productive. The hard part for me was the realization that we were going to have scale back the functionality of the gradebook I've been working on for the last 6 months, in order to guarantee a release in June.

During a late night meeting in a hotel lobby a group colleagues from MIT and Berkeley cut and cut until we had something that could be delivered even with out some of the Sakai features we'd hoped would be in place to support it. The absence of sectioning and flexible user/group management really cut back on what we could do. But the initial release will satisfy the needs of Indiana and Foothills, the schools that will roll out the gradebook in the Fall.

Despite the difficulty I am happy that we no have a very realistic plan and we're full of confidence that we will succeed. The initial release of the gradebook will be followed by expanded functionality in a couple more, hopefully reaching the full scale app that I designed by the end of the year. This iterative release schedule will let us do more user testing and will ultimately result in a better gradebook.

I think the tools I like best in Stellar have benefitted from having limited functionality in an initial release with improvements based on user feed back every 3-6 months.