Students at William Woods University partnered with Learfield Communications of Jefferson City, Mo., for a semester-long capstone project that enhanced their learning experience and prepared them for their careers.
The students were members of a class in management information systems (MIS), which refers broadly to a computer-based system that provides managers with the tools for organizing, evaluating and efficiently running their departments.
During the spring semester, the class of nine senior MIS majors spent an afternoon at Learfield conducting a needs assessment of the company. When students returned to campus, they began researching remote access options and new technologies that would be applicable to the company.
Learfield Communications is a leading producer and syndicator of radio and television programming, including sports and news content. Its sports division produces live sports radio broadcasts, televised games and interactive content for some 50 colleges and universities. It distributes programming to more than 1,000 radio stations around the country.
“I feel it is not only an option, but an obligation to integrate real-world projects into the classroom,” said Dr. Linda Davis, professor of management information systems. “Only then can you really tell if students are truly understanding concepts and able to perform high level critical thinking, which is so important in business today.”
The class spent the better part of the semester researching various hardware and software options for the company. Virtual Private Networks (VPN), ROWE (Results Oriented Work Environments), Sky Drive and various Cloud Computing options were a few of the ones investigated.
The research required students to call approximately 20 companies across the nation to discover how they were implementing various technologies. They also had to identify negative and positive consequences of implementation within the workplace.
“I believe the Learfield project was a good experience for our class to execute because it gave us good hands-on learning that we can use in the outside world after graduation,” said senior Kyle Kovar. “The experience that you gain by working with a highly respected company, such as Learfield Communications, is second to none and not something that you can learn reading a textbook.”
Kovar also said the partnership project, “taught everyone in the class how to work as a team and showed everyone how important it was to be persistent and get the job done because there will always be other people counting on you to pull your own weight.”
The culmination of the project required students to present a 26-page research paper, as well as a 30-minute presentation and demonstration to Learfield management in hopes of seeing their work integrated into Learfield’s current practices.
“We were lucky to have this opportunity,” said Alicia Jones, an MIS major who graduated in May. “Collaborating with classmates and business partners helps implement all the skills and theory you have learned in the classroom. You get to put all that learning and education to the test and see how well you are able to display and demonstrate what you have learned.”
The capstone project was just one segment of the class. Students also developed an individual electronic portfolio for their careers, engaged in community service projects, completed a national certification test (IC3), attended career fairs and interviewed for jobs.
“We pack a lot into this class, but that is what students will be faced with upon graduation—multitasking and a full work load,” Davis said.
William Woods University students make a presentation to Learfield Communications.