Blending people and technology can be an arduous task, but when done correctly, a rewarding one.
At least that's what Moraine Park Technical College Marketing instructors Robin Rodee-Schneider and Augie Ridolfi discovered when they recently added technology-driven courses to the College's Marketing Program.
"The changes we incorporated have given Moraine Park the most up-to-date, technology-driven marketing curriculum in the state," said Rodee-Schneider, when asked about the changes. "Different marketing applications of technology uses in research, communications and creative designs, give our students a competitive edge over those who are using less sophisticated technology. It teaches them how to do their jobs better, faster and more creatively."
Many students have reported that the confidence they gain because of the technology requirements has made a difference in their workplaces, including employers looking at them in a more professional light. "We don't teach 'technology' - we teach marketing," said Rodee-Schneider. "Then we apply technology to make the classes and students' careers more productive and interesting."
Technology-related courses incorporated into the new Marketing curriculum include Computer Literacy-Microsoft Office, DataBase Marketing, Electronic Marketing Media, and International Business Practice Firm.
Incorporating these courses was critical to the program, noted Rodee-Schneider, if the College was to keep up to date with changes in the business world. "There are at least five areas businesses consider essential for maintaining continued growth in today's economy: electronic commerce, sales force automation, distribution and logistics, relationship marketing, and online, interactive promotion," she explained. "Technology is seen as a tool to making these things happen."
One class in particular, International Business Practice Firm (IBPF), has generated a lot of excitement since it was piloted in Fall 2001. "The International Business Practice Firm is unique, and the students really seem to enjoy it," said Pat Olson, Moraine Park's dean of business occupations and culinary arts. "It was the first time we offered a course like this and it was very exciting to see it get off the ground."
Olson describes the IBPF class as a simulated business that mirrors the real world. Students set up a company with the assistance of instructors, and once set up, transact business with other student-run IBPF's from throughout the world via the Internet. "The course combines entrepreneurial skills with an international experience using the Internet. It allows learners to engage in simulated business transactions with other firms here and abroad, via a closed network," she explained.
"Students use Moraine Park's state-of-the-art technology to communicate with students from other cultures, and develop problem-solving strategies in a team environment," Olson continued. "It's a great way to prepare students to compete effectively in the global world of business and it offers them a competitive edge. We're also hoping to offer students the chance to travel abroad and meet with some of the students they've been dealing with via the Internet.
Andrew Spaeth, one of the students who participated in the inaugural IBPF class, said the experience offered many highs and lows, but was fun and educational. "This class was one of the most valuable classes I had; and was one of the best experiences I ever had in my life," he said. "There was frustration and excitement, but it really helped prepare me for the real world."
"It was a great class," agreed 20-year-old Bethany Guess. "I wasn't sure what I was jumping in to when I signed up for it, but I'm glad I got to be a part of it. I'm looking forward to seeing the business grow."
Rodee-Schneider couldn't agree more. "I think it's very exciting, too," she said. "That's one reason I love marketing -- things change every day. The new uses of technology allow creative people to develop concepts and ideas. It also means the faculty constantly have to learn new technology and the best ways to incorporate the information into our classes."
For more information about Moraine Park's Marketing Program, call Pat Olson at 920- 924-3333, or counselors Greg Langille, Fond du Lac, 920-924-3199; Gerry Skalecki, West Bend, (262) 335-5768; Bonnie Weiland-Hare, Beaver Dam, 920-887-4441. Or call toll free at 1-800-472-4554.