11 Jan
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Education Revisited | Back to the Future of IBM Lotus

Disclaimer: The following article is a creative writing piece originally written for a college course based on factual information. However, Keith Petri has not worked for, nor is currently employed, by IBM or any of the other organizations mentioned in the article.

As many of my readers are well aware, I am a recent graduate of Skidmore College. During my four years as an undergraduate I majored in Management & Business and minored in both Economics and Studio Art. I truly value my liberal arts education and firmly believe in cross-disciplinary study.

Every few weeks I find myself revisiting my “College” folder on my trustworthy MacBook Pro. Just yesterday I was commuting from Washington D.C. back to New York City, when I discovered the following piece: “IBM Lotus to Provide Video Conferencing Technologies to Impoverished Schools”.

Originally written for a Non-Profit Marketing course, the brief outlines a proposal for a corporate social responsibility initiative. While I may not be affiliated with IBM the concepts outlined in the following article may be of interest to someone who is…

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IBM Lotus to Provide Video Conferencing Technologies to Impoverished Schools

Date: April 26th, 2010
To: Mr. Bradford – VP of Marketing
From: Keith Petri
Subject: Corporate Social Responsibility Proposal

The following outlines IBM’s motivation to initiate a corporate social responsibility program aimed at providing IBM Lotus Connection technology to further the public school education of impoverished children in some of America’s largest cities with the assistance of The Funds for Public Schools.

Memorandum

IBM Lotus has a reputation of providing innovative technologies to aid in connecting individuals for various purposes.  A recent product, Lotus Connections, enables users to interact on a more personal level within an online community.  As an employee of such a highly influential firm with international reach, I feel obligated to provide a public service in line with both the corporation’s values and my own personal beliefs.

To this accord, I propose that IBM initiate a corporate social responsibility project aimed at installing IBM Lotus Connection software, combined with their video-chat enabled plug-in (Sametime Connect), at impoverished schools in each of the following cities: New York, Boston, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, East St. Louis, and Phoenix.  The project will help promote IBM’s already stellar reputation of being involved in furthering the education of the world by providing both technology to classrooms, and grants to students in need.  Furthermore, the success of such an initiative could lead to potential government reforms in public school standards of the future.  Even more so, early introduction of our technology to the leaders of tomorrow, could increase future purchases of our product offerings.  Lastly, with a fast approaching presidential election and history of education as a hot-topic, the public will be especially aware of the issue.

The introduction of this new technology will provide a platform for an enhanced educational experience.  Video conferencing, coupled with an online community of students (domestic and international), will change the curriculum of teaching in the years to come.  A similar program, Face2Face, has successfully utilized innovative technologies at their Turning Point Learning Center in Emporia, Kansas.  The following is a brief list outlining the potential uses:

–        Connecting with Experts
–        Virtual Field Trips
–        Working Collaboratively
–        Accessing Curriculum from Associated Education Establishments
–        Providing a Platform for Continuing the Conversation (Twitter Studies)
–        Pen-Pal Relationships (practicing foreign languages, learning unfamiliar cultures, etc…)

While The Funds for Public Schools non-profit is based solely in New York City, our project will be introduced on a national level.  However, their vast experience in school reform will aid in implementation of new curriculum and adhering to the strict guidelines of the U.S. Department of Education legislature.  The Funds for Public Schools will be enthusiastic to assist in IBM’s corporate issue promotion initiative since we will be providing their schools with the expensive technology and aligning our values with their cause: “working to attract private investment in school reform and to encourage greater involvement of all New Yorkers in the education of our children.”

Lastly, IBM can measure their Return on Investment through a simple comparison of educational purchases.  Once a standard is set within the impoverished public schools, and clear results of the improved curriculum are publicized, numerous other private and public institutions will follow suit.  A non-financial, long-term motivator may include potential grants, scholarships and various other contest driven initiatives resulting from the improved education thousands of children will receive. Tomorrow’s workforce will be more technologically savvy, innovative, creative and forward thinking.