I believe that the classes I teach should have as strong of a “real-world” component as possible. We often cover abstract academic principles, but I always strive to make sure the are rooted in the context of how I have seen them put into practice. This semester was no different. In three of my courses, students worked directly with clients who needed real problems solved using the theory and technologies we discussed in the course.
In IMS422, our Advanced Web Design course, students also applied concepts learned in the first two-thirds of the semester in work for clients in the last third. The class was broken into two teams. Each team worked with a different client. One designed brand guidelines, built a series of info graphics, developed a social-media strategy and created a custom light-weight content management system to drive a website for Ischemia Care, an innovative firm providing diagnosis services for stroke victims. The other team leveraged HTML5 technologies and PhoneGap to build an iPad App to teach handwriting to children for the educational group Write-On Handwriting.
Finally, in IMS440, our capstone course, students spent an entire semester acting as a digital agency for Pearson Learning, one of the largest textbook publishers and educational software companies in the world. Pearson was looking to update the marketing material for their extensive performance tracking and professional development tools for K-12 teachers, Pearson Compass Suite. Students worked using Agile methodologies, SCRUM in particular, to develop a promotional website, brochure, competitive analysis, sales tools and four promotional videos. The initial website launched a few weeks ago, and students have been measuring and analyzing the results and making informed tweaks since. They’ve worked with Dr Coyle in the CRUX usability lab to determine how usable their solution is compared to what Pearson had before. They’re also using usage data and analytics from the live site to make recommendations for search engine optimization. The client has been extremely pleased with the results and has reported a significant increase in conversations.
Because of our cross-disciplinary nature, when our students work collaboratively, they’re able to solve a variety of problems. It has been extremely exciting to see students apply concepts to real-world problems this semester. I look forward to foster more of these industry collaborations in my future courses.