USM class partners with Cellular South - - The News for South Mississippi

USM class partners with Cellular South


HATTIESBURG, MS (USM) - Members of assistant professor Jamye Foster's creative marketing class at The University of Southern Mississippi may well get "hung up" on their current assignment. In this particular case, that's perfectly fine.

The students' spring semester project involves a partnership with Cellular South to develop new software for the company's new HTC Hero Android advanced touchscreen smartphone. To assist in that endeavor, Cellular South supplied several HTC Hero devices for student use.

Foster said the objective is to teach marketing students how to think creatively which is necessary in fostering truly innovative ideas. Such creativity will give them an edge in the competitive work world and marketplace.

"Unfortunately, most of the educational system is focused on critical thinking and we forget how to think creatively," said Foster. "Thus, the class is centered on learning a skill – creative thinking. Then we apply that to a real world situation. This is the first time we've had an actual client such as Cellular South participate and that really adds more significance to the class assignment."

Steve Davidson, product development manager for Cellular South, has already made two visits to Foster's class. Because college students represent some of the savvier smartphone users, Davidson says his company can definitely benefit from a project of this nature.

"We're always looking for what's relevant to our customers," said Davidson. "Some of the best applications and inventions we enjoy today came from ideas that might have seemed extreme at the time. The power of the open Android platform is a unique opportunity for students to stretch their minds to new possibilities. We've challenged them to envision new apps that do not exist today. This will be a true creative challenge as there tens of thousands of existing Android applications."

Handheld phone applications include such features as Facebook and Twitter access, Google searches and camera capabilities. "This is a unique time to be in wireless communications," said Davidson. "The sky is truly the limit right now."

The class is comprised of groups of three or four students with each group acting as an individual consulting team. The groups have spent the first few weeks of the spring semester brainstorming ideas. The students will ultimately be graded upon the degree of innovation and practical application of their ideas.

Senior marketing major Dartanion Travillion said his eyes lit up when cell phones were introduced as part of the class project. "At first I thought we were just getting one phone to play with, but we have enough so that we can take them home and work on the assignment," he said. "This just makes the class more interesting because I love being creative."

Malissa Fowler, a senior marketing major from Picayune, Miss., said that blending critical and creative thinking has presented quite a challenge to the class.

"By this time, as seniors, we've spent a lot of time applying our critical thinking to classroom assignments," she said. "Now, we've got to approach this project from a completely different standpoint. A lot of times being creative is a lot harder than it sounds. We've got tons of ideas but we want to make sure we come up with something that will actually work."

And Foster points out that there is an immeasurable bonus component to this particular class project. "Should Cellular South decide to use one of these ideas, can you imagine how nice that will look on a student's resume?"

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