Cindi Tysick, Associate Librarian and Head of the Educational Services Team, is a bit like a power strip that works in reverse—instead of passively collecting whatever connections come her way, she is actively plugging into all the opportunities that UB has to offer—all so she can give her students as close to a real-life experience as possible.
Cindi teaches a 1-credit seminar for transfer students titled “Move Your Research to the Next Level.” Her mission for this class is to immerse these students in the UB mindset by focusing on the impact of the research that happens here. Normally, she asks her students to go to a research event and write about it, but this wasn’t enough for Cindi—she wanted a more active experience for her students, an experience that was all their own.
“I have asked the Experiential Learning Network to work with me to make this course an experience. I’ve partnered with two NGOs in Ghana that have projects or deliverables that they need, and I have my students work on them.” For example, one group is writing a grant to acquire funding for sports equipment, and in order to do so they need to prove that if the kids there can get into a sports program, then their academics will improve, and that’s where the research comes in. Then the students put it all together in a mini-documentary or infographic. By the end of the class, the students will have completed a project for a real NGO solving a real-world problem, or as Cindi puts it, “It’s research meeting experience.”
But Cindi is going even further. She is working on planning an enhancement to the course that will feature a 10-day trip to the NGOs’ home country so that students will have the opportunity to present their work to the NGOs or hear about their needs in person. “I always bring it back to: ‘How do I plug the students into having some experience with all of this?’” She recently plugged into Dorothy Siaw-Asamoah in the School of Management; through this connection, she traveled to Ghana as the education technology expert, working with teachers and librarians on accessing resources and improving a technology center for disabled and visually impaired students. There she met leaders from the NGOs that are currently being featured in her class. She learned about the needs of the organizations and knew that her students could do the research and create the deliverables that they needed, which is how this whole idea began.
“What I really want to do is partner with faculty who are leading study abroad programs and other global opportunities. I can’t go everywhere to collect these opportunities myself, so I have to reach out to faculty and get the word out that this sort of thing is happening, and hopefully they’ll want to partner with me.”
Meanwhile, Cindi’s already got a few more ideas lined up, including working with an engineering professor and his students to rehabilitate some old laptops and incorporate assistive technology so that visually impaired students in Ghana can use them to learn. “My hope is that by working on these projects, students will be inspired and want to go abroad later on in their undergraduate careers here at UB.”
Much like the ELN, Cindi is working to immerse students in all the opportunities UB has to offer. If you also want to provide your students with experiential learning opportunities but aren’t sure how, stop by 17 Norton or talk to Christina Heath or Charlie Baxter about your questions and ideas. And feel free to contact Cindi Tysick if you’d like to talk about partnering and bringing global projects to UB.
Written by Amanda Hellwig ‘19