Solving a Real-World Problem
By Jenna Obee, Campus Director of Library Services
Students often have the perception that school is a place meant to prepare them for the real world, and the ideal consequence of all that preparation is a good grade. The best institutions, however, are not simply training grounds, and the ideal consequences go far beyond a report card. Truly educational experiences afford opportunities to create real change, and that is exactly what happened in the Computer Science and Information Technology capstone class taught in the 2013 Winter and Spring terms. A group of CTU students from these classes approached CTU with a desire to create a solution to an ongoing problem.
Scheduling tutoring appointments was a logistical nightmare at the CTU Aurora campus where as many as eight peer tutors served more than 700 students who needed help with numerous subjects. Students had to stop by, call or email staff to make an appointment on a paper schedule that was unable to accommodate the daily changes of a busy department. Students canceled appointments regularly, and each day, the schedule was a mess of scribbles around holes caused by frequent erasing. Despite this drawback, students preferred to make appointments because when they accessed drop-in tutoring, tutors were sometimes too booked to see them. Additionally, the scheduling of tutors took upwards of five hours a month with constant updating.
The Computer Science and Information Technology capstone class volunteered to create an online tutor-scheduling application to the specifications of the tutors and their supervisor. They gathered requirements, created a proposal for approval and then designed and built the application. The website, called the Tutoring and Testing Reservation System (TATeRS), gave administrative access to the supervisor and user access to the tutors and the students.
TATeRS has streamlined the process for all users, making the scheduling of tutoring appointments easier. It allows students to make and cancel tutoring appointments whenever they choose, even overnight. Tutors can retrieve an up-to-date schedule of appointments for the whole team or any individual at any time. Tutors also provide their schedules and block off times for meetings, special projects or days off. As a result, their supervisor spends mere minutes each quarter approving the schedules.
The planning, design and building of the TATeRS application gave the students in the capstone class real-world experience, something each one is likely to use during his/her future career. The project allowed each student to grow personally and professionally in leadership and team-building skills, as well as in technical know-how and hands-on experience. Members of the class bonded with campus staff and with each other, developing lasting networking relationships. It was a suitable finale for these proud graduates of CTU.
Jenna Obee earned a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Anthropology knowing full well she’d never work in those fields. But the part-time job in the library was fun! It was also what set her on her career path. While working for a public library, Jenna discovered she had a passion for helping lifelong learners. One Master of Library Science and more than a dozen years later, Jenna has revitalized her passion as the Campus Director of Library Services at Colorado Technical University. While her focus is now on adult education, Jenna does retain one vestige of her past studies: She is the proud owner of a collection encompassing more than 550 turtles…although only one of them is alive.
Image credit: Flickr/racheocity