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Student Computer Club: A Growing Community Beyond Borders
I attended my first computer club as a budding psychology student in college. In fact, I founded it, along with a group of classmates from the computer science department. Since then, my passion for student computer clubs has become part of my academic journey as well as my career.
Now as a doctoral student in Educational Technology at the Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP), I continue my work as a computer club activist. In Fall 2006 Dr. Linda Polin invited me to help lead the charge in reviving Pepperdine’s computer club, Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) Pepperdine. I currently serve as the group's president.
Most of the club’s members live away from the Pepperdine campuses. With members from California to Florida, holding traditional face-to-face club meetings can be a challenge. Through the support of GSEP, we rely on our technology resources to communicate from a distance. One technology in particular is Linden Lab’s Second Life, a three-dimensional virtual world entirely built by its players. Access to Malibu Island, where we meet in Second Life, gave us a platform to convene together, albeit virtually.
In a computer club like ACM Pepperdine, we gather to share our interests related to computers; we get to "geek out." We also get to network with each other. Often it becomes a positive source of camaraderie. Cofounder and 2004-05 ACM Pepperdine president Mike Castaneda agrees: "ACM is an effective way to network with other professionals as well as learn what others are doing with computer technology."
This aspect of ACM is especially important for graduate students as we make the transition to professional life. "GSEP is a professional school. We expect our students to graduate into an active professional life," Dr. Polin says. "Organizations such as the ACM are an important part of that. ACM has several subdivisions and journals and conferences. It offers members access to an amazing online digital library. I believe it is an important element of education for our students."
Since its inception in 2004, the continued growth of ACM Pepperdine has been due to the support and dedication of our members, founders, and officers. These include current officers Bardia Behravesh, Cathleen Deckers, Kai Dupe, Linda Eller, Jeff Lee, Lee Parmenter, Theresa Stanley, and Tammy Stephens; past presidents Mike Castaneda (04-05) and Tina Sartori (05-06); and incoming president Stacey Kizer (07-08). In addition to regular meetings on Malibu Island in Second Life, the group of officers plans local events and provides connections to resources and opportunities through the larger ACM organization.
ACM Pepperdine members Cathleen Deckers, Theresa Stanley, and Kai Dupe have been especially proactive in helping me spread the word about the benefits of student computer clubs. We are regular presenters within the academic and professional circuits, such as the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, International Society for Educators and Scholars, and League of Innovations for Community Colleges.
Most recently, Deckers, Dupe, Dr. Farzin Madjidi, and I have been invited to present a paper about computer clubs and student leadership at the Paris International Conference on Education, to be held in Paris, France, in summer of 2008. Deckers and I will present on topics related to increasing female participation in IT, while Dr. Madjidi, Dupe, and I will present leadership topics.
Someone once asked me what I do during my full-time job and I often say, “I get to help student computer clubs!” As director of academic programs at an organization devoted to the development and growth of the IT community, I lead the charge in promoting workforce development initiatives for future IT professionals. I also work with the Microsoft’s IT Academy Program North America team in providing customer strategy integration for IT Immersion, where I provide consulting to executives in higher education.
Personal experience in student computer clubs is indispensable in my line of work. During my years as a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University and California State University, I served in leadership roles for professional computer clubs such as the Information Systems Security Association and the California Association for Information Technology Managers. These days, I use and rely on skills I developed in those organizations.
Outreach and service to the community are the primary reasons why I get involved in computer clubs, and ACM Pepperdine is no exception. We plan to continue to expand ACM Pepperdine's community outreach and development efforts to promote educational technology and computing beyond our campus borders.
Last fall, ACM Pepperdine donated IT books to underprivileged students in the Nepal region with the help of corporate supporters like O’Reilly Publishing. Led by ACM Pepperdine copresident Jeff Lee the books were personally delivered to teachers and students in a Nepal Computer Center. This year, ACM Pepperdine plans to reach out to its regional community, as well as others worldwide.
Computer clubs are a vehicle for possibilities, and the future looks bright, especially for ACM Pepperdine. It has great potential as a continued resource for Pepperdine’s computer science, information technology, and educational technology students.
by Lani Fraizer