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Polycom co-founder's Kiwi ICT Graduate School Masterclass whips up student creativity
Mon, 22nd Aug 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

On August 18, Auckland and Hamilton became part of Silicon Valley for a while. Polycom co-founder and chief evangelist Jeff Rodman led two classes of university students through a journey of creativity, problem solving and inspiration.

The Graduate ICT Masters classes at the University of Auckland and the University of Waikato were connected by direct videoconference link to Rodman's cosy abode where he delivered a lecture on 'practical creativity'. "We respect people more when they say I have the answer, rather than I understand the problem", which is a backwards way of thinking, he told students. This spurred the classmates to split into groups and come up with innovative ways to solve a problem of their choosing and present them to Rodman, their own class and their remote classmates.

"Out of the box can mean milk on the floor," Rodman told the class, with particular emphasis on where and how creativity can be defined.

“It has never been a more exciting time to be joining the ICT industry as the impact of digital transformation and ideas like the workplace of the future continue to reshape the way we work, regardless of industry. I am absolutely delighted to meet with these new master students from New Zealand to share some of my experiences about what a truly great idea can achieve," says Polycom Co-Founder Jeff Rodman.

The Auckland ICT Graduate School is a joint effort between the University of Auckland and the University of Waikato. The masterclass workshop was one of the first of its kind to be held at the School, which was opened in November 2015.

Students training at the School are striving for success in their Masters in Information Technology and Post Graduate Certificate in Information Technology degrees, and are as diverse as the courses themselves - one student was even a police officer.

The government is investing $28 million over the course of four years to develop the school, which is one of three across the country to receive funding.

“Auckland ICT Graduate School aims to give students industry experience while they study, providing them with the opportunity to make and build connections with the ICT industry.  As Silicon Valley is central to the ICT industry, we are delighted that Jeff Rodman is able to participate in this session and share his experiences with our students," says University of Auckland Computer Science Professor (and Director of Auckland ICT Graduate School) Gillian Dobbie.

The videoconferencing technology by Polycom experienced a negligible amount of delays, but overall the 1.5 hour class whipped up enthusiasm and innovative ideas amongst the students.

As for Polycom's origins, it all comes from a love of music and a love of technology. The company provides content, video and voice solutions to customers and partners worldwide.

“When people ask me what is creativity, I often talk about blue sky ideas.  More often than not blue sky ideas don't always tie to existing ideas or the way people think.  Part of the fun is translating these ideas into something that brings value to the users.  I'm really looking forward to sharing some of my insights with these Masters students who will be part of the industry's next generation of blue sky thinkers," Rodman concludes.