Heads in the Cloud
Innovative class is model for future
High performing students, teamwork, intercultural collaboration and communication, technology, research—all the elements that lead to an outstanding classroom learning experience—work together in Gino Sorcinelli’s honors senior seminar Effective Decision Making in the Age of Cloud Computing.
Twelve UMass Amherst and eight National University of Ireland, Galway, students are finding the course, a prototype for future classes and field test for high-tech classrooms, unlike any experience they’ve ever had.
Designed to prepare soon-to-be-graduates to be effective and successful decision makers in the global workplace, the class uses state-of-the-art technologies in an environment similar to what many students will find when they enter the workplace.
Amherst and Galway are connected via Skype for the twice-weekly classes, but otherwise the course is conducted entirely online. Students use identical tablet computers, provided by Lenovo, loaded with a full array of cloud (Internet based) computing software, and online services to communicate and collaborate across campus and across the Atlantic. Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, is the cloud base to connect and sync files, and Microsoft OneNote 2010 is used for note taking and integrating PowerPoint presentations.
Teams of mixed UMass and Galway students research an industry of their choice and an organization within that industry. Assignments are based on the research and require the teams to put their data analysis, problem solving, planning, and presentation skills to use. In addition students are learning how teams function, how to build them into effective work groups, and how to work with colleagues from a different country and culture.
“This is a great opportunity to put technology together with the topic [decision-making],” says Kim Brophy, a senior accounting major. “I gained a new perspective in learning to communicate and think globally.”
“Day to day this class is fun,” says Michael Williams, a senior finance and economics major. “I like being able to provide input on how the class is going and how things are working. It is an outstanding experience, learning the technology and working as a team with students across the world in a different time zone and a different culture. It is going to be great going into work with this technology and knowledge.”