Sep 28 2010 Posted: 00:00 IST
Postgraduate students in Information Systems at NUI Galway recently showcased voluntary work that benefited local organisations in Galway. The showcase is the culmination of compulsory project work completed by the students as part of the MSc (Information Systems Management). The project component of the MSc requires students to analyse the operations of an organisation, focus in on a problem area, design a solution to that problem in consultation with the users, and develop and implement that solution. This year, a total of 20 projects were submitted, all involving a substantial amount of voluntary work where students applied their skills to address the needs of local organisations. The clients included, Cancer Care West, SAP Galway, HSE-North West, Youth Work Ireland, Defence Forces, COPE Galway, Connacht Rugby, Fitzgerald Design Ltd., Brothers of Charity, Teddy House Creche, Oxfam, Bushy Park National School and NUI Galway. "The field of Business Information Systems is primarily about helping organisations to solve real problems and grasp opportunities," explains MSc in Information Systems Management Programme Director Michael Lang. "Many people do not fully understand how innovative IT applications can be potentially very beneficial within their workplace, often because they are not aware of the capabilities of technology. This is where our postgraduate students can help." The aim of the projects undertaken by students is to enable them apply the skills they learn on the programme, such as database design, user interface design, applications programming, Web development, business systems analysis, project management, security planning, and e-business strategic thinking, as well as skills such as teamwork, interpersonal communications, and presentation skills. It also affords the opportunity to be involved in civic engagement and volunteering. Professor Chris Curtin, Vice-President for Innovation & Performance at NUI Galway, said, "It is wonderful to see how the students of the MSc in Information Systems Management have demonstrated very impressive innovative capabilities in producing such excellent and creative projects. NUI Galway places a high value on the importance of civic engagement and volunteering, and service learning is very much a core aspect of our teaching and learning strategy." Support for NUI Galway's service learning strategy is centrally provided by the office of the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI), which also oversees the ALIVE student volunteering programme. Combining classroom theory with community practice, service learning is a teaching tool aimed at connecting students with their community through practical work and has given students the opportunity to see the impact that civic engagement has for the communities they work with, their own learning and the wider society.