Teens Mix Business Creativity with Web Technology

Camp Lets High School Juniors and Seniors Explore Net's Entrepreneurial Side

Aug. 6, 2009

High school students at the School of Management this summer vanquished the stereotype that teenagers use the Internet only for socializing and entertainment.

A group of 18 local teens put blogs, social networks, Twitter, video sharing, virtual worlds, wikis and more to work at Web 2.0 Summer Camp. They spent a week exploring creative ways to apply the latest in information technology to business issues re-imagined as entrepreneurial opportunities.

The driving idea, according to camp director and faculty member Dr. Mark Thouin, was to show participants a problem-solving methodology to address such problems as how to help organizations be green, reduce their health-care costs, and market their products to consumers ages 16 to 24.

Participants came from Dallas, Frisco, Richardson, McKinney and Cedar Hill. The Turner Twelve Organization, a nonprofit group that works to create first-generation college graduates, sent the largest contingent, a dozen students from Lincoln High School in South Dallas.

All the participants “worked in groups to create, strategize and implement the most effective way to deliver their IT solutions,” Dee Ellington, the School of Management academic adviser who developed the camp idea.

Contemplating ways a company might reduce health-care costs, Kyle Tyler, who will attend Berkner High School in Richardson, proposed that the company direct employees to food wiki sites that could both show them healthier eating alternatives and allow them to share their own.

One of Tyler’s teammates for the exercise, LaCira Boyce of Cedar Hill, suggested the company set up health-care blogs on behalf of workers.

A third teammate, Brandon Bostic of Centennial High School in Frisco, said, “The company could hold a clinic and get Twitter or Facebook to tell the employees about it.”

Playing off the abbreviation for information technology, IT, Thouin keyed all camp activities to the theme of “Do IT Better.”

“When it comes to IT, there’s opportunity everywhere,” said Thouin, who is director of the school’s Management Information Systems program.

Web 2.0, however, refers not merely to technology—the latest applications, networks, services and sites available online. The term also—and perhaps more importantly—describes a new Internet era, one in which users, formerly able only to view and download information, now also can generate and contribute content as well.

Divided into five teams, the campers vied to deliver the best Web 2.0 solution to a real environmental, health-care or marketing challenge. A panel of judges evaluated the content, delivery, time management and overall impression of their presentations, which had to run less than 20 minutes.

Two groups created blogs, Ellington said. One had responses from nine bloggers less than a day after posting its initial content.

The culminating camp event came Friday afternoon when Thouin announced the winning teams. All four members of the first-place team, i.M.A.D, got a $50 Visa gift card.

The judges found “their solution was the most comprehensive,” Thouin said of i.M.A.D.’s ideas. They provided access to health-care answers in a variety of cost-cutting ways, he said, including e-mail, text-messaging and on the Web.


Media Contact: Kris Imherr, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4793, imherr@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Web 2.0 “campers” cruise computers in the School of Management in search of business ideas.

Back row (left to right): Gwen Fleming, Ariel Sanders, Wendell Harris, Ivory Alexis, Anish Jacob, Kyle Tyler.
Middle row (left to right): Jeniece Madison, Jeodecy Johnson, Mickendra Barrett, Damian Medrano, Dr. Mark Thouin.
Front row (left to right): LaCira Boyce, Antionette Steverson, Kwanetta Davis, Tosha Coleman, Veronica Jacquez, Brandon Bostic

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