The UGA online Master of Internet Technology program has been fully online since 2014 and is gearing up to graduate its first fully online cohort this upcoming spring.
The graduating students are leaving the University of Georgia having gathered many skills and tools, but they’re also leaving behind some tangible effects on our community. The five-semester program culminates in a capstone project which takes up the last two semesters of the course and consists of the cohort splitting into multiple groups and being assigned to a client with technology needs. They create an application to address these technology needs.
Julie Jewell is a student in this cohort who has been working for a semester with the University of Georgia Golf Course. Their entire last semester was spent assessing their client’s needs and creating a model for an application which will streamline the golfing process, a virtual scorecard application. It will perform functions such as keep score, calculate distances to the next hole and keep track of a player’s experience. In her final spring semester, she and her team of four others will be implementing their plans and creating the application that will add much value to the UGA Golf Course.
While Julie herself has had much experience with large-scale virtual projects and working in virtual teams due to her work as an IT consultant for two decades and as a IT change management consultant currently, many of her peers are working in a virtual team for the first time. It’s a tough business, especially while working together on creating applications, so they use collaborative technology such as Google Docs, as well as GitHub for coding collaboration. They meet once a week on Google Hangouts as a team, unless they’re working with specific individuals on separate tasks, but Julie predicts that the going will get very tough when the team begins implementing their plans next semester. Therefore, Julie says, “Our goal is after the new year, we’ll try to meet and pick a spot in Atlanta where we can meet.” Sometimes, in person meetings are required.
The other team in Julie’s cohort is about the same size and is working with the Zell B. Miller Learning Center to create an application that, among other things, will make the process of finding study rooms in the center much easier for students. Currently, students walk aimlessly from level to level of the large building, hoping to find a chance empty study room where they can meet with peers. However, with the application that the MIT group is creating, students will be able to book rooms in advance, and will be rewarded or punished for their behavior in regard to these rooms; If they show up on time and treat the space respectfully, they will receive rewards, but if they are late or don’t show up to their appointment they will receive deductions on their account.
Ultimately, this experiential learning program should benefit both the learners in the UGA online Master of Internet Technology program, as it lets them apply what they’ve learned during the first three semesters of the online program, and a myriad of organizations around Georgia and at the University of Georgia who cannot afford to hire external consultants to perform these tasks for them.