Thursday, July 31, 2014

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Students Participate in Sustainable Living Marketing Team, Create Website

Block 8 saw Sustainable Living staff member Robbie Gongwer make the leap to a faculty role when he coordinated the Sustainable Living Marketing Team(SL 408).  The four week class was designed around the principles of high performance team building, including interviewing prospective class members and vetting them based on their academic achievements, skill sets, and motivation level for working in a free flowing, project based class environment.  The end product of that block was the website you're looking at right now, which students developed to achieve the class goals of informing and updating current students, creating feedback loops to improve efficiency, and marketing the Sustainable Living Department to prospective students.

Robbie went beyond the traditional professorial role by acting as both client and facilitator for the project.  In the client capacity, Robbie set forth the needs of the Department as well as explaining existing strengths and resources.  As facilitator, he made sure timelines were maintained while troubleshooting interpersonal issues as well as technical and content specific obstacles.  Class members also moved well beyond the conventional student position and proved that a flexible, project based learning environment  fosters innovation, increased productivity, and overwhelming enthusiasm. 

The marketing team collectively delivered a research strategy, collected data, implemented their marketing approach, created the web design and developed content for this site including video and photography.  This workload added up to more hours of homework than would usually be assigned by professors at MUM, but the team members were so inspired they not only set their own goals above and beyond the norm, but delivered on them!

The benefits of this class structure went beyond the work produced during the block, recent graduate Leon Lewis explains, "As a graduating senior, my experience on the Sustainable Living Marketing Team helped give me a boost of confidence to enter the workplace. Working with a team of peers on a real-life project with a real-life deadline is quite different than turning in a piece of homework that only you worked on. Group communication and team dynamics are just two of the soft skills I walked away with. Highly recommend this class to all upperclassmen."

To recap the lessons learned during and after the project, Robbie Gongwer and TA Colin Heaton are collaborating on a case study tentatively scheduled for publication next year.  Additionally, due to the overwhelmingly positive response of team members and the equally enthusiastic reception of their website, this class will be offered again in the 2011/12 school year.  Will you be in it?

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