Summary of this message:
Having briefly experimented with the Project module I can see that it has the potential of being very popular. I think the key to its success will be to keep it as simple as possible. Specifically, it needs to be clear to potential users (teachers) what their students will experience as they go through each task. Also, the grading system needs to be transparent, particularly the peer assessment system. The bottom line is that teachers need to trust the scoring system to the point that they are prepared to fail students based on poor Project scores. It is tempting to suggest additions to the Project module, such as the ability to allow students to create their own grading criteria, which I see Veli-Pekka is working on. If it is possible to introduce such a system without making things overly complicated for teachers, then I'd welcome such an addition. On the other hand, perhaps the best plan at the moment is to make sure the module works as intended on a Production Moodle before adding to its functionality.
As a fairly long time user of the Workshop module, I am particularly attracted to this new project Module since it manages to take care of many of the tasks that need to be done before doing a Workshop: e.g. brainstorming. choosing a topic and getting into groups.
The Workshop is a terrific module, but I haven't come across many people who actually use it. I suspect that the reason for this is that it is difficult to set up, and one can only really appreciate all the ramifications of the various choices and features after a number of classes have been through the system. Furthermore, the grading system is not transparent; I am unable to explain the details of the scoring mechanisms of Workshop module to students, and therefore not in a position to fail students on the basis of a poor Workshop result. These two factors, complexity of activity setup and opaqueness of scoring, mean that many people like the idea of the Workshop but can not risk using it with real students, or at least not for high-stakes tasks. If you can avoid these problems with the Project module, you will have a 'winner'!
For me, one of the main attractions of the Workshop module is that it allows the teacher to set up detailed grading criteria. In fact, there are 4 different grading strategies: Accumulative, Error Banded, Criterion, and Rubric. You'll find an explanation of these strategies here:http://moodle.org/help.php?module=workshop&file=gradingstrategy.html
What is more, it is possible to require students to both grade themselves and their peers using the same criteria that the teacher uses. However, one useful feature that is missing, is the possibility of allowing students to create their own grading criteria.
I see that Veli-Pekka seems to be already working on a 'prototype of student-creation of assessment criteria', with which I look forward to experimenting. Having thought about how 'student-creation of assessment criteria' could actually be implemented, I can see that this could become incredibly complicated. So, I reminded myself about what the actual purpose is of allowing students to create, or at least suggest, grading criteria. The purpose is to make students think in depth about what are the components or factors that make up a good 'project'. So, if their project is to make a 3 minute movie about their hometown, in asking them to suggest or create grading criteria, they are being asked to consider what are the factors that make a good movie. Given this, I realise that something simple like the 'Q and A forum' type would suffice. In other words, have students write down how they think they should be evaluated. Once they've written their ideas, they are then able to read and comment on the suggestion of their peers. The teacher could then decide how and if these suggested criteria could be included in the assessment stage of the project. To conclude, if you are able to develop and implement a 'student-creation of assessment criteria' task, I think it would be a pedagogically sound addition to the Project module. However, I don't think that this should be your number one priority. My experience of the Workshop module tells me that making the process comprehensible and the assessment system transparent should be at the top of your agenda.
Hope this helps.