Monday, May 14, 2012
MIS students help bridge digital divide
The students who took Brandon Bernier’s MIS 300 course this spring are not likely to forget the experience any time soon.
A group project not only provided the class with a deeper understanding of the material, it made a lasting impression on the entire class. One group took its research on the digital divide significantly beyond the project requirements by raising money to purchase a laptop for a child in a developing country through the nonprofit organization, One Laptop Per Child.
“By researching and ultimately getting involved with the One Laptop Per Child program this group not only encapsulated some of the ideas of MIS, but found a way to give back to the community,” says Bernier, assistant dean, university libraries, and contributing faculty member, SBA. “It was very touching to both me and all the students in the class when they made their presentation.
“It is powerful to see how the concepts we teach combined with the ambition and innovations of students can make such a dramatic impact on the global community,” he adds.
The students’ journey began when groups were asked to become a subject matter expert on a specific topic, then give a 15-minute presentation on what they learned. The group that included Ashley Maue, Rebecca Braga, Emily Battaglia, Savannah Doughterty and Brittany Kasawdish, explored the impact wireless technologies can have on third-world and developing countries.
“When I took MIS 100, I learned of an organization called One Laptop Per Child that worked toward providing children in developing countries with laptops,” says Maue, a marketing major. “Once we picked our topic, I immediately brought up the organization. I thought it would be so awesome if we could not only present about the digital divide, but do something about it.”
After visiting the organization’s Web site, the group was sold on the program, accounting major Braga says. “We watched videos of the kids using the laptops, and it pulled our heartstrings.”
One Laptop Per Child strives to provide educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by giving them low-power connected laptops designed to work in tough conditions and remote areas.
The laptops come with solar chargers for users without access to electricity. The tinted screens prevent glare from the sun during outdoor usage.
As an extension of their project, group members collected contributions from friends, colleagues and family members to fund their donation. One Laptop Per Child combined their gift with others to buy enough laptops for an entire classroom.
The MIS 300 group later received a thank you video from the organization, featuring laptop recipients. “You could see how much the kids loved going to school,” Braga says. “We all choked up, all five of us.
“We’re very lucky over here. My little cousin plays with his iPad every day. These kids had no way to connect with people outside their village before now. The impact of this experience was huge for us.”
Maue says she feels good about the group’s efforts.
“We not only talked about donating, but we actually followed through,” she says. “I am so happy we were able to at least give one child the opportunity for a brighter future.”
By Flori Meeks