Thus far in the semester you have been assigned readings and module activities, and more recently have been assigned a major written assignment you must complete by the end of the semester. Each of these, of course, serves a purpose in your learning: the readings and modules provide you with a basic foundation of material in this particular field, while the major written assignment expects you to discover what others (i.e. leading experts in the field) have to say about your chosen topic. This activity, however, allows you to identify a real-world topic or issue from within the field and share it with the rest of the class. Think of it as a college version of “show and tell”.
As is detailed in the syllabus, this assignment can be either a photo essay or a video, produced by the student that highlights an issue pertaining to the public sector and that has a decidedly fiscal management focus. Again, you only have to do one or the other (i.e. you do not have to do both the photo essay AND the video as I have. I produced both merely to demonstrate both approaches). See below for examples of both, as posted by your professor.
The project activity has two components.
- The project itself; and
- Criticisms and other observations to fellow classmates’ projects.
Subsequently, the two activity components have different due dates. Be sure to consult the course calendar for exact dates (by semester); however, the due dates follow the general guidelines below.
- You are required to upload the entire finished project to the appropriate Webcourses portal (i.e. this discussion forum) by the last day of the regular semester; and
- You are also required to provide comments as prescribed by the rubric about your colleagues’ projects by the last day of finals week.
- Be sure to consult the rubric as to the demands of your comments. This is not merely a free comment section: The rubric spells out specific requirements as to what you are to critique.
Note: While the DUE DATE of this activity shows the last day of active classes (i.e. the end of finals week), students must post their project to this portal one week before that date (according to the course calendar). Because this activity has two components (submitting the project and then commenting on the project(s) of others) it necessitates two due dates, which cannot be accommodated by this system.
This project pertains to an idea I had (but never got the chance to implement) while I worked from 2008 to 2011 as the sole Park Planner for Osceola County. Just prior to my arrival to the Parks Department, the County (in cooperation with the City of Kissimmee, other State agencies, and non-profit entities) purchased a little over 1,000 acres of land along Shingle Creek. Aside from the creek itself, a central component of this new regional park was a recreational trail that proposed to run from Lake Tohopekaliga (near Kissimmee), through the wetlands of Shingle Creek, across the Osceola Parkway into Orange County, where it was to meet up with a similar recreational trail network that Orange County and the City of Orlando were constructing. This new trail offered considerable promise for the multitude of failing businesses found along US-192 in Osceola County, because it was being touted to the region’s policymakers as a state-of-the-art eco-tourist destination. One obstacle to connecting the Osceola County portion of the trail (south) with the Orange County side (north) was the Osceola Parkway – a major, four lane toll road that straddles the county line. Because the land surrounding Shingle Creek is generally swamp land, which is prone to flooding, and because the Parkway sits relatively low in elevation, it was decided that building a path underneath the Parkway was not practical. The alternative, of course, was to take the trail up and over the Parkway by way of a bridge. Such bridges, however, often come with a hefty price tag. For instance, the one shown below, spanning John Young Parkway just north of Kissimmee, cost taxpayers over $8-million. So, as it pertains to this project, this is where the “thrift” comes in. As luck would have it, the Osceola Parkway has but one toll plaza, which just happens to be sited a mere 150-200 yards due east of where the proposed trail exits the park to the south.As is shown in the image to the right, the yellow lines represent the proposed trail alignment, both to the south of the Parkway and to the north. Moreover, the area circled in red shows the site of the existing toll plaza, while the blue circle shows a general location where a new and modified toll plaza could be constructed to serve all stakeholders. Now, noting that the existing toll plaza for the Parkway is becoming antiquated (i.e. it has an express lane for those drivers with toll transponders, but the lane requires drivers to slow to a mere 25 MPH), my thought was that if/when the Expressway Authority decided to retrofit the toll plaza to add free-flow travel lanes (i.e. lanes that don’t require drivers to slow down in order to pay their toll), they could simply shift their site due west and coordinate the construction of the new plaza with the other park entities. Antiquated (existing) toll plaza. Note how the “ePass” lanes (under the white signs, in the left side of the plaza) are narrow and expect drivers to slow down. This plaza is found elsewhere, however, it was chosen because it shows how a trail might be accommodated above it – serving a dual purpose. Building a joint-use plaza that accommodates trail users above and motorists below could save millions of dollars for both agencies. The Parks folks would not have to construct a full bridge, as the trail would rest atop the plaza. And, the Expressway Authority would have a good deal of their construction costs deferred, as they would be shared by the Parks Department. Moreover, the small carbon footprint of the facility (i.e. the fact that less permeable surface area (ground) would be covered by concrete could qualify this as a “green” project because of the lessened adverse environmental impacts.
OK, the material above was created as an example of what a project might look like, should a student decide to use only photos and text. The following embedded videos, however, were shot to provide students with an example of what you can do, using a simple cellphone camera. Please note: I’ve used the most basic technology – as if I were a student. While I have access to UCF’s state-of-the-art video editing software and hardware, I’ve nonetheless decided against using that, as I want to encourage and convince you (the student) that this project can be completed with relative ease.
To start, know that it took me less than an hour (including travel) to complete this short series of videos for this project. Sure, they are a little rough around the edges (…yours won’t be, however) but as I mentioned above, I wanted to demonstrate what could be done on short notice with a regular cellphone.