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Apr 24, 2014

College of Business Students Navigate SharePoint

SharePoint UserOne of the major goals of study for disciplines in the College of Business is to prepare students to enter the job market with a competitive edge and knowledge of current industry practices. To help better prepare students, many professors in the CoB are introducing one of the leading business collaboration tools—Microsoft’s SharePoint.

Used predominately in the Computer Information Systems course (COB 204) as well as various independent study course and capstone courses, SharePoint is a collaborative software that enables business professionals to share and organize content, exchange ideas, and manage workflow in an organized manner.

Computer Information Systems and Business Analytics professor Dr. Harry Reif explains, “The rationale for implementing SharePoint into 204 courses is to give students experience working with a business collaboration system. Our wish is that students will use what they have learned about SharePoint and apply that knowledge and experience in the future.” 

SharePoint Use in COB 204

As a part of the core curriculum, COB 204 is an introductory course into computer-based information systems that emphasizes the role of computers in business and society. This course is designed to equip students with the skills needed to collaborate using computer-based tools not just in the classroom, but also in their future professional lives. 

As businesses are becoming increasingly more globalized, they are also becoming more prone to working with other businesses to gain success. In COB 204, students are taught about the business technologies used for global collaboration—one such tool being SharePoint. Computer Information Systems and Business Analytics professor Laura Atkins believes SharePoint is an excellent instructional tool. She says, “SharePoint is heavily used in business, and this course gives students a glimpse into a tool that allows businesses to share content in an efficient way. By introducing our students to SharePoint, we are giving them a competitive edge.”

Students in COB 204 use SharePoint as a communication and collaboration tool within student groups. Each group has a team site in SharePoint, and the groups use the site to view assignments, read class materials, create wikis, post to blogs and post to discussion, and maintain accountability among group members.

For COB 204 student Alex Jones, SharePoint took on an even deeper meaning once she was exposed to it outside of the classroom. She says, “I was having a conversation with my father about homework when SharePoint came up. My father told me that he has been using SharePoint in his current job and in some of his previous jobs at companies which include  at KBR, Willbros, Halliburton and even overseas at MAB in Dubai. Moral of the story, Professor Cole was right. SharePoint is important no matter what field of business you're in. 

Now Alex realizes that the benefits of studying SharePoint are transferable to the workplace. “I am very grateful for the SharePoint exposure because I am attempting to get internships this semester so being able to understand how to use SharePoint at such an early stage is going to give me a competitive advantage over all of the other freshmen candidates that I am competing with.” 

SharePoint Use Beyond COB 204

Elena UgentiUpon leaving COB 204, many students continue to use SharePoint for other courses  as a method of storing data and ensuring collaboration in group projects. Some students even utilize SharePoint in their experiential learning opportunities in the CoB. One such student, senior CIS student Elena Ugenti, uses her knowledge of SharePoint to aid Executive Advisory Board member and JMU alumnus Michael Rebibo in creating a SharePoint site for his company.

According to Ugenti, this experience has enriched her learning and use of SharePoint. She explains, “The experiences I have gained from working with Mr. Rebibo have given me a new perspective on what it will be like working in the real world after college—and it has definitely given me a competitive edge in the job market.  Employers love that I know how to use and implement SharePoint because most use SharePoint in their own company.  On interviews when I explain what I am doing for Mr. Rebibo, the interviewers are typically pleased to see that I have some experience working with clients, gathering information, and implementing requirements within SharePoint.”

SharePoint Use Beyond JMU 

Alum Lauren Danker

Like Ugenti, recent JMU graduates Lauren Danker and Kristen Podwika utilized their knowledge and experience using SharePoint in meaningful ways outside of the traditional classroom—ways that also enhanced their appeal while navigating the job market. As part of their independent study course, Danker and Podwika developed a YouTube video that explains to SharePoint users how to create a three-step workflow in SharePoint. Since its creation in April of 2012, the video has been widely successful with over 57,000 views. 

About its popularity, Danker says, “I was surprised that the video had so many views! It is exciting to realize that our video helped thousands of people learn a new useful skill, and I have also appreciated the opportunity to get the feedback from the viewers.” 

For both Danker and Podwika, the experience gained from using SharePoint was essential to their success after graduation. Danker explains that her knowledge of SharePoint was one of her major selling points while on the job market. “SharePoint was an incredibly helpful skill for me to have in the job market, and on various client engagements and firm activities. While at Deloitte, I have encountered a variety of applications of SharePoint, including use of the document repository and collaboration functionality on client engagements and participation in SharePoint development on internal Deloitte projects. On the job SharePoint training is available, but having background knowledge and familiarity with the tool is a helpful and marketable skill to have on your resume.”

Thanks in part to their expertise in SharePoint, both Danker and Podwika were hired as Business Technology Analysts for Deloitte Consulting LLC.

Computer Information Systems professor Carey Cole, instructor to Ugenti, Danker, and Podwika, advocates teaching students SharePoint and continues to do so in his own courses. He says, “SharePoint is a vital tool for businesses—and they are looking to hire students with knowledge of SharePoint. As such, we must continue to teach our students about SharePoint and encourage them to use it both in the classroom and beyond it.” 

To view the YouTube video created by Danker and Podwika, click here.








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