The desire of the staff and faculty of any educational institution is the same; to see their students learn and use the knowledge they have gained. For Eric Opolka, recent Information Technology graduate from Globe University–Wausau, who successfully earned his Information Technology bachelor’s degree, and received a job with Collaborative Consulting of Wausau, this desire was made a reality.For his Information Technology Capstone course, Eric undertook a project from start to finish. The aim of the project was to apply the knowledge, skills, and abilities he learned from previous courses and use them to yield practical results for the campus.
The project was to organize and find a method to electronically display important information and upcoming events using the TV in the campus’ commons. This undertaking went well beyond researching various methods and determining their feasibility. It also included project definition beyond the initial framework, current system evaluation, timeline development, user and technological requirement determination, overall analysis and design, a prototype build and presentation, implementation and training, and sustainment.
Eric began with the premise that the campus had valuable information that it wished to convey to its students, but that the then current communication vehicles – posters, e-mails, and bulletin boards – were not yielding optimal results. In addition, the commons is located at the entrance to the building and is thus accessed by all who enter the campus and is also used by students as a meeting, study, and conversation center.
The most logical conclusion was to incorporate the many communication vehicles into a centralized electronic vehicle that could be viewed by all in the commons area and also be easily updated to reflect current information and events.
Eric was aware of the need and desire to address this disconnect in communication and wanted to use the knowledge that he had gained in his classes to help out.
“I knew that this project was something that the school was looking to implement and after discussing it with Jim [Yulga, information technology program chair], we decided that it would be a good final project to incorporate the knowledge and skills I acquired through Globe University.”
From that point, he developed questions to use in interviewing campus administration, faculty, and staff on the types of information to be displayed. He researched the technological alternatives including their limitations, such as functionality and cost. He determined the best and most efficient method of implementation was to purchase a media player to store and display presentation (PowerPoint) slides and videos with the campus’ information. A prototype system was developed and demonstrated to administration, faculty, and staff.
After a successful review and upon receiving further input, he modified the system to include procedures for generic slide format and content submission methods from the various campus departments to the campus’ librarian and administrative assistants. They assemble the content and convert it into a format that the media player can access and then display. Updates to the content are done weekly; however, an important notice can be incorporated immediately. Finally, documentation including user procedures was created for the entire project. Overall, the process just described followed the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC), the staple of project management.
Like any involved project, this one had its glitches. The first media player was defective and had to be returned. Prices for media players ranged from $50 to $200 with few discernible advantages to the more expensive players. Scope creep is inevitable with any project and care needed to be taken to address the original issue and not beyond. However, despite minor setbacks, Eric persevered and the project was completed and has been very successful.
As a result, Eric was involved in the project from start to finish and even after graduation, is able to see the results of his research and accomplishments. He experienced the same project management and implementation activities that occur in a typical business and his future in the Information Technology industry. This final project turned out to be a win-win scenario. It provided Eric with real life experience and the fruition of the knowledge gained throughout his college career and is just one of the many examples of applied learning at Globe University, and as a secondary benefit, Globe University – Wausau has a new method of reaching out to its students and providing information on campus.
Thank you Eric and congratulations again on your graduation, your new job and in a previous job well done!
By Jim Yulga, Information Technology Program Chair, Globe University-Wausau