The Project Risk board game and companion workbook are excellent content for a 3-credit college course in Project Management. Together they provide the learning activities for a semester worth of hands-on learning project management activities.
The workbook provides individual or group project work assignments while the Project Risk game boards can be left in the classroom for group play.
This assumes a class that means 7 times for 2-4 hours per class. If your class meets more often, simply spread the "Project Reporting Periods" out so that one period equals one class.
Chunking: Accelerated learning techniques teaches us that the use of chunking lessons into shorter periods takes full advantage of the attention cycle of the human brain. We are most likely to retain information presented at the beginning and end of a session; therefore if the game is divided into smaller chunks, we are creating more beginnings and endings and so increasing the amount of information retained.
Activity: Early in the first class introduce the students to the workbook and play a demo round of the Project Risk Game. The demo round will not be a competition. It should be a 20-30 minute run through of playing the game as if you were all rolling the same dice and making the same strategy decisions. Do not use the Earned Value option during this demo, since learning that terminology will come a bit later. The teams go through the motions of setting the game up, and get a feel for the strategy options and mechanics of playing the game with the standard risk cards, and without using Earned Value.
This will correspond with an overview of project management, an introduction to your syllabus, having the class get to know each other, and breaking into teams consisting of 3-4 people each team. Depending on if you want the students to generally work on independent projects or if teams will all work on the same project, you should have the team decide on what project they will focus on for the team game play.
As an assignment have the students complete the workbook steps 1-7 with the understanding that this is a proposal for a project, which may or may not be accepted.
Receive the student assignments from their workbook (stpes 1-7). Review the proposed scope statements with the class. If a project is inappropriate for the course, too small, or questionable, changing the project should be discussed and a new project should be immediately arranged. Otherwise accept the proposed assignments.
Activity: Have each team select which student's project they will use for the sake of the game. Instruct them to fill in the 8 write-on risk cards selecting 6 potential project negative risks and 2 potential project opportunities (positive risks). Have the team put the risk cards in a hand, and then the instructor should blindly pick two of the cards out for each team. Instruct the teams that the two cards that you draw will become their "unidentified risks" and they should be set detail-side-down in that area on the game board.
Lay out the rest of the gameboard per the normal instructions. Encourage the students to strategize before the 1st Project Reporting Period. You may want to get the ball rolling by offering some risk transfer deals. Encourage negotiations with other teams for sharing and transferring.
As a class, have all teams roll for the first Project Reporting Period together. Have them follow the actions on the upper left of their status pads. Instruct them regarding how to fill out their Earned Value sheet. Have the teams discuss the step they landed on (what is is and how they do that on the project). Have the teams strategize on their risks. Emphasize the options, getting them grounded in the habit of considering all strategies for all risks and optimizing timing and considering ramifications. Encourage the teams who have conflicts regarding what should be done to clearly articulate their reasoning and come to a method of problem solving (be it via democratic voting or another approach) on their own. Talk about how they should resolve these conflicts in their actual projects. Do they want to create their own strict rules or decide how to resolve conflicts on a case-by-case basis?
When the group is fairly complete with their risk management for this period, take them into the 2nd Project Reporting period. Follow the same type of process as above.
As an assignment have the students complete the workbook steps 8-13 with and appropriate lecture/learning for the class focusing on scope definition and work breakdown structures.
Complete Project Reporting Periods 3-4.
As an assignment have the students complete the workbook steps 14 - 18 with the appropriate lecture/learning for the class focusing on network diagramming and critical paths.
Use the network diagramming exercises in the workbook to help ensure the students understand the math and logic. Then have the students create their project's network diagram and calculate the critical path. Use these pads to help the students in creating their diagrams.
Complete Project Reporting Periods 5-6.
As an assignment have the students complete the workbook steps 19 - 21 with the appropriate lecture/learning for the class focusing on cost budgeting, procurement, and project quality planning.
As additional activities, consider using the Hit the Mark activity and having the learners create their project budgets, procurement plans, and quality plans.
Complete Project Reporting Periods 7-8.
As an assignment have the students complete the workbook steps 22-23 with the appropriate lecture/learning for the class focusing on project human resource planning and risk planning.
As assignments have the students create their projects Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) and fully explore the Project Risk game cards and the strategies implications to their real projects. Explore the comparision of the games current outcomes (chip and schedule status) relative to the teams early proactivity. Make sure that all of the negative and positive risk strategies are completely understood and appreciated in various project and nonproject environments.
Complete Project Reporting Periods 9-10.
As an assignment have the students complete the workbook steps 24- 27 with the appropriate lecture/learning for the class focusing on change control, project communication planning, and creating a complete project baseline plan and getting it approved.
Complete Project Reporting Periods 11-12.
As an assignment have the students complete the workbook steps 28 - 52 with the appropriate lecture/learning for the class focusing on project execution, controlling and monitoring, and closing. This may seem like a large number of steps to cover in one class, however some of this is actually covered earlier during the planning steps and only reviewed at this time.
As additional activities, have the learners go through the Earned Value Simulation and plan their project closure meeting agenda and how they will collect and share lessons learned. Debrief from the Project Risk game and provide their project presentations (if desired).