Technology to enhance innovation, diversity and collaboration skills among Farmer School students

Project Title: Technology to enhance innovation, diversity and collaboration skills among Farmer School students 

Project Lead's Name: Gillian Oakenfull

Project Lead's Email:

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-1209

Project Lead's Division: FSB

Primary Department: Marketing

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal: All Farmer School departments will benefit from the proposal as it involves the installation of classroom technology available to all users.

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 300

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 0

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem:

In a recent survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, employers expressed that newly-hired college graduates had the right technical know-how for the job but complained that colleges weren't adequately proving students with vital hard and soft skills to be effective in the workplace. Assuming that these highly desirable skills can only be attained outside of academics, employers named internships, jobs, volunteering, and extracurriculars as the most important elements in hiring recent graduates, placing little importance on learning within traditional curricula. To graduate business students who truly possess the skills for the success in a 21st century we have to build an infrastructure for skill development. In effect, we have to stop outsourcing skill development to companies and provide FSB students with state-of-the-art experiential learning opportunities that develop leading-edge business skills. Key Works Skills for the Future: According to research from The Institute for the Future, an independent non-profit strategic research group, over the next decade, our students will enter into a work environment that is being rapidly reshaped by several interrelated disruptive shifts. The workplace of the near future will be influenced by global connectivity and demographic shifts and will exist within an increasingly computational world with a new media ecology. As a result, these drivers of environment change will shape a workplace that requires skills and proficiencies beyond those currently taught in institutions of higher education.

Increasing global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations. Cross-generational and cross-cultural competencies come to the fore as increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and increase the need for social intelligence. New technologies and social media platforms are driving unprecedented reorganization of how we produce and create value. Learning to use new technologies to work, to innovate, to produce, and to lead will be a key factor in upcoming decades. Additionally, our students will work in environments until those of the past. 52% of US workers work remotely at least once per week. In fact, the number of people who work from home has increased 103% since 2005.

Beyond overcoming the challenges of distance, virtual collaboration tools are now being used to help workers connect within the same location and get the most out of our time at work.Virtual collaboration refers to working as a team, across digital tools to accomplish tasks. Virtual collaboration is familiar to distributed and virtual teams, but it’s becoming common across all types of companies. Even teams in the same building benefit from chat tools, extranets, and digital whiteboards.

At present, our students receive their global skills by participating in FSB study-abroad programs but rarely actually engage and collaborate with students or workers of other cultural backgrounds. They currently have little exposure to virtual work and collaboration beyond often ineffective use of google docs and google slides. Additionally, our client-driven experiential programs are often severely restricted by geographical constraints of Oxford’s location. There are realities to the fact only the most local of business practitioners can get in and out of Miami in a day. Finally, given the speed of changing technology within business, we must begin to expose our students to new technologies that are seeing fast-paced application in the industry for which we are preparing them.

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project:

Effective skill acquisition requires preparation, practice, and performance. As such, we have to provide our students with hands-on opportunities to:

  • Learn how to solve problems and make decisions in diverse global teams
  • Work effectively in a virtual environment
  • Use new digital technology to enhance innovation and collaboration.
  • Have increased access to industry experts from who they can acquire skills beyond the classroom.
This proposal providing both classroom and mobile technology to address the current skills gaps related to technology, globalization and diversity. As such, I am requesting funds to create a virtual collaboration classroom that would be available to all classes and students within the Farmer School of Business.

Video Collaboration Lab: A two-camera would be installed in a cluster classroom within the Farmer School of Business to provide students the opportunity to present to a remote audience of other students, clients, industry experts, or recruiters. Three microphones would be installed to ensure that every student voice in the room could be picked up and communicated to the outside participant. In our current classroom set-up, only the faculty member who stands by the laptop or PC running the video conference software would be heard from audio. I have chosen a cluster-classroom to optimize the collaboration space for students.

Small group Video Collaboration: Many of our experiential learning courses have students working in teams of 4-6 members on client projects. The use of a Meeting Owl provide teams with the opportunity to independently collaborate with participants all over the world from anywhere within the building. The Meeting Owl video conferencing camera dynamically captures 360° video and superior audio for a near face-to-face experience. It combines video and audio into one device. Students would simply need to plug in the power and USB, load up your favorite the university-supported WEBEX platform, and start their meeting.

Enhanced Collaboration with Jamboard. The google jamboard will provide a mobile solution for both video conferencing and digital collaboration that can moved to any space within the Farmer School of Business. Students can sketch their ideas whiteboard-style while benefiting from the access and connectivity of an interactive canvas. They may also crop images, add notes, and pull assets directly from the web while collaborating with team members from anywhere. The system would work especially well with the G-Suite and Google apps currently supported by the university system.

Access to Current Technologies in marketing: Technological innovations continue to impact digital marketing, and one of the most intriguing tools to enter the landscape in the past few years is virtual reality (VR). Some 75% of the biggest brands in the world have integrated VR into their marketing strategy to date. VR refers to an artificial, computer-generated environment that uses high-end graphics, as well as audio and aural sensations, to make users feel as if they are in a real world where they can interact with – and sometimes manipulate – what’s around them. Most VR experiences are generated through the use of specialized headsets that fully immerse a person in the virtual world. The main benefit of using VR in marketing is that it provides value through personalized content and new business models. Here are some recent statistics that prove that we can’t afford to fail to provide our students with exposure to VR technology:

  • It’s predicted that by 2022 the VR industry would have hit about $33.90 billion.
  • By 2020, the predicted number of sold VR headsets will reach 82 million.
  • The estimated number of VR users by 2018 is 171 million, up from only 200,000 in 2014.
  • 62% of consumers say they would feel more engaged with a brand that sponsors a VR experience.
  • 71% of consumers perceive a brand that uses virtual reality as forward-thinking.

While I believe that VR and the related Augmented reality, along with voice recognition, will be fundamental to how we all live in much less than a decade, at this point, I am requesting funding for one Oculus GO VR headset to explore how we can meaningfully integrate skills related to these technologies into curricular and co-curricular initiatives in the near future.

How will you assess the success of the project: Measure of success:

  1. Level of usage of all virtual collaboration technology in the classroom to connect with o engage with students and business experts outside of Oxford but also in other countries
  2. Level of Usage of the Meeting Owl in experiential learning courses to provide more frequent collaboration with capstone clients and business practitioners
  3. Level of usage of Google Jamboard in curricular and co-curricular program around the FSB to enhance collaboration.
  4. Development of curricular and co-curricular to provide students with skills to prepare them to use virtual reality in marketing.

Total Amount Requested: $34,368.80

Is this a multi-year request: No

Please address how, if at all, this project impacts any of Miami's BCSAE, 2020, or divisional plans: This equipment will be used and secured by a brand new program in the Department of Marketing called KICKGLASS Marketing, which is designed to address gender inequalities within the marketing industry. While only 40% of Farmer School of Business students are female, 62% of undergraduate marketing students at Miami University are females. Despite being top-performing students at Miami, these students face the harsh reality that, on average, less than 30% of Chief Marketing Officers in the United States are female and both the gender pay gap and advancement gap are getting wider as marketing becomes increasingly technical. The Department of Marketing is launching KICKGLASS MARKETING to better prepare both male and female students to proactively address gender inequities that exist within the marketing field.

Phase one of the program, called "KICKGLASS c|change" launched this fall and is available to all female and male marketing students and faculty. The program is designed to create awareness, address existing gender biases and prejudices, and develop Miami marketing students who are agents of change for gender equality in the marketing industry.

Phase two of the program, called "KICKGLASS skills", will rollout next year. KICKGLASS skills will provide marketing students with the opportunity to gain both the soft and hard skills and real-world experience that will be required to gain top marketing positions upon graduation and effectively navigate the business environment to continue their progress to the top of their organization. A special focus will be placed on preparing marketing students to succeed in a constantly complex and changing marketing industry driven by technology, globalization, and diversity.

KICKGLASSskills will involve industry-sponsored skills labs, mentoring from upperclassmen and Miami alums, participation in case competitions, especially those focused on industry segments where females are underrepresented (e.g. sports marketing, digital marketing), consulting on real-world experiential projects (including a capstone course,) and internships with corporate partners.

I have attached a summary of the KICKGLASS marketing program above. KICKGLASS Marketing was launched with a grant from the M.I.A.M.I. Women's Giving Circle and will continue with the support of the FSB's Strategic Initiatives fund, with collaboration with FSB Development to raise capital from corporate partners and individual donors.

This initiative with several aspects of the FSB Strategic Initiatives including: Initiative 1: Continue to evolve our leading-edge curricular initiatives | To provide a premier business educational experience, the Farmer School will engage in curriculum management that reflects thought-leading business theory and practice. - Broaden and deepen sustainable curricular experiential learning opportunities.

Initiative 2: Elevate responsible and innovative leadership and global preparedness of students through curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular experiences| To thrive in a competitive global environment, Farmer School students must be active and fully engaged learners, both inside and outside the classroom, on campus and in the community, at home and abroad.

  • Identify and expand international experience opportunities for all Farmer School students and integrate global issues and perspectives into classes and student organizations.
  • Develop innovative leadership programs and opportunities that leverage a variety of learning contexts both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Foster student activities that provide real-world business experience, such as student organizations, service-learning, immersion, study-away, study abroad, and internships.

Initiative 3: Attract, graduate, and place a high-quality, diverse student body | Farmer School students must have opportunities to learn in an environment where they can practice respect and that is rich in intellectual curiosity and diverse perspectives.

  • Teach and model ways to leverage diversity for the purposes of knowledge creation, innovation, leadership, and competitive advantage.
  • Support co-curricular and extracurricular activities for students and faculty that foster interaction with people different from themselves.
  • Support Professional Development and Career Education activities to prepare our students to be "job ready" upon graduation.