Academics, Campus wide, College of Business, College of Science and Mathematics, Computer Science

Creative teamwork class lives up to its name

By Jan Joslin | May 7, 2020

For the students enrolled in CSCI/BUSI 383 Creative Teamwork, the end result of their project designed to teach strategies for building and working in interdisciplinary teams looked like nothing they expected, but it definitely taught them creative teamwork.

Students in the Creative Teamwork class created marketing materials for the Charleston Women in Tech virtual conference.

Taught jointly by Dr. Valerie Sessions of computer science and Prof. Emory Hiott of business, the course focuses on engaging with a community-based organization to develop and execute a project and teaches communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, planning and delivery to the customer. The class was originally planned to end with a trip to Southeast Asia to help a school market its summer camp program. That trip and a substitute trip were both canceled. 

“In previous semesters, students traveled to another country to help a nonprofit further its goals in either IT or marketing,” said Sessions. After changing plans multiple times as COVID-19 changed everything about the project and the semester, the students organized a virtual conference for the Charleston Women in Tech Mentorship Program with guest speakers such as Jody Davids, retired CIO of PepsiCo. 

Before the Charleston Women in Tech conference moved to a virtual platform, refreshments were planned for the event. Instead, the Creative Teamwork class coordinated more than 70 meals for the Charleston VA Hospital nurses and staff through the nonprofit Feeding Our Heroes. “Professor Hiott and I are incredibly proud of their efforts and attitudes,” said Sessions. “They are the embodiment of servant leadership.”

Kevin Jacques, a junior accounting major, center, and Dr. Valerie Sessions, director of the computer science department, far right, deliver meals to nurses and doctors at the Charleston VA Hospital on May 5. Photo provided

Bailey Dingler, Kevin Jacques, Adelaide Lovelady and SarahBeth McKenzie highlighted some of the things they learned during the project:

“From the beginning of the semester COVID-19 was on our radar, but we were not going to let it stop us. Not only were we going to be able to create a marketing plan for a company, but we had the opportunity to do community service projects, visit facilities, meet with business owners, and tour another country.

But then COVID-19 became much more of a crisis than any of us, or anyone else, had anticipated. By the end of spring break, CSU announced we would not return to campus to finish the semester, and we knew our hopes were shot. No touring another country. No elephants.

One of the goals for the class was to experience a culture shock when we visited these countries. Little did we know, it wouldn’t be our diving into a new culture abroad, but it would be our own culture shocking us from home.

Despite the obstacles in our way, we strove to make the best out of the circumstances. Our plans changed almost every week, and we had to work together so that we could fulfill the beginning goal of the class: teamwork in a real-world situation.

For us it was very simple: We had set goals collectively, and just because our situation had changed did not mean that our goal had changed. We knew there were still things that we could do during the pandemic, and Charleston Women in Tech needed to market their now completely online conference to a remote audience.

We all had active roles that required both research and networking along with adapting to the current situation. Flexibility was key in this project. We had to depend on each other to pull through with questions and updates despite not meeting face-to-face. 

There are times in our lives when changes come that we are not expecting. There is no clearer evidence of that than how everyone has been shaken by COVID-19. It comes out of the blue and leaves us worried for what else the future holds. In moments like these we must cling to His word. “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

Though this semester was vastly different than what we had imagined, still God has been faithful working through us. He showed us time and time again that His plans are far greater than our own, molding our lives for His glory. Even in the most challenging times, we are reminded that we serve a good and mighty God.”

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