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University of Nebraska Omaha Student Priorities

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1. Reworking the System

Affordable and accessible higher education is a major challenge in Omaha, Nebraska. Especially at the University of Nebraska, Omaha (UNO). Many students can not financially afford to attend UNO and end up with a hefty amount of student debt. Those fortunate enough to obtain funds for college either work many hours into exhaustion, or score scholarships and grants. Even with provided funds for college, many struggle to fit into the cookie cutout that the university and many other educational systems desires. To combat this, students need support from mentors, tutors, or other resources to level the playing field for those that can play the game of "standardized education". Currently, there are a few pushes for improvement of UNO's accessibility but don't gain much traction within the university for various reasons.

 

  • Tactic #1 Design Flaw Course (Parker Jensen)

Many students see these issues on campus, however they struggle with implementing a solution with support from a majority of campus. One of our proposed solutions is to develop a class called "Design Flaw" which simplifies design thinking to any disciplinary major. The classes would start simple showcasing common design flaws such as the "Norman Door." After students grasp the concept of defining an issue, they would then be shown how to ideate possible solutions through informative questions such as, "Why is it a bad design? How could you improve it? Who can help you improve it?" Later in the course, students will start noticing broader design flaws such as the educational system in Nebraska, but more specifically, areas that it could be improved upon. This will hopefully end up resulting in students focusing on how to improve not only the university they are attending, but the surrounding community. We would first pitch this idea to many faculty and advisors to get their feedback as we have the layout plan of our curriculum. Sitting down with a chosen professor to teach this course for the first time would be a great time to construct the curriculum to their needs and desires to ensure they can be comfortable and fulfill our vision.

 

  • Tactic #2 Mav-Match  (Nico Lindell)

Many students are daunted by their first year of college. Here at our university, we have a scholarship program called the Thompson Learning Community which provides mentors for each student. Many of these students have stated that the support of said mentors is what kept them in college. The Thompson Learning Community has a graduation rate greater than 90 percent. With Mav-Match, each first-year student will be paired with a social college to help they with their college experience. This app could also be useful for meeting new people on campus to grow each student’s personal network. We have already constructed an early prototype of this idea. To improve it for the next iteration, we would implement our feedback, and possibly create a rough draft of a working app.

 

  • Tactic #3 Collaborative Coursework (Parker Jensen)

Classwork here at UNO lacks many hands-on skills found within the career’s students are preparing for. Some courses do offer internship course work, or hands on learning, however, lectures tend to be the popular teaching style for many classes. These are great in some instances, but not amount that they are seen on campus. Collaborative coursework gives students the opportunity to delve into unknown subjects/paths of thinking through the academic lens. This could look like two dissimilar courses working on one project together, or even one class teaming up with a student org. This would offer the so desired hands on learning experience that many students seek. Not to mention, the collaboration between different resources on campus would greatly improve many aspects here at UNO. To start this, we would connect with the innovation and entrepreneurial professors and faculty on our south campus to pitch the idea and find out which class we can implement at, "Collaborative Team Up" activity. We would then use that as a jumping spot to create a whole curriculum for two class or a class partnered with a student organization to ensure they are gaining the skills we are focusing on.

 

  • Tactic #4 UIF Continuation (Nico Lindell)

As the first cohort from the University of Nebraska at Omaha partaking in the University of Innovations Fellowship program, we find it extremely important to continue the cycle of likeminded students to develop the skills that are gained in this program so that each succeeding cohort can continue our teams long term goals as well as leave a legacy behind for themselves in further improving our campus. We would first spread the word in hopes of exciting next year’s cohort and help direct them towards the resource they need to improve their chances and  skills needed for this opportunity. We would also talk with the staff that supports us right now to set up a long-term commitment in place for each group that goes through this process.