College students to showcase future-focused projects to community
Okanagan College Media Release
Okanagan College student Kelly La Morge is putting her education and skills in technology to work to fighting cyber bullying and online predators – an initiative she will be demonstrating at Future Now, an upcoming showcase of OC student work.
La Morge currently wears two high tech hats – she’s enrolled in both the College’s Computer Information Systems and Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology (NTEN) programs. As part of her NTEN final capstone project, La Morge and classmate Christopher Fedun developed an innovative computer application called Who Do You Know? which alerts parents to potentially harmful online interactions between predators or bullies and their children.
“I’ve been thinking about the danger of online interactions and how they can affect people in real life ever since Amanda Todd’s suicide in 2012 which was a result of cyber-attacks,” explains La Morge. (Todd was just 15 years old when she committed suicide at her home in Port Coquitlam; her story and the investigation into the role online bullying played in her death made provincial and national news).
“There are people out there that are actively using their technology know-how to target children and marginalized individuals, like Amanda Todd and sadly countless others,” says La Morge. “I’m going to use my technology skills to combat those people – call it resistance through technology.”
Parents can use the application to silently monitor data from children’s and teens’ online conversations to see if any language used matches any of the preset key words, phrases and questions that are commonly used by bullies and predators. When there is a match, that specific message is logged and a text or email notification is sent to the parent who can then decide if and how they want to intervene and support their child.
“Presenting on our work at Future Now is very empowering – it brings a voice to our project and to me as a female studying and working in a male-dominated industry,” says La Morge.
The Future Now showcase is happening on May 1 from 6 – 9 p.m. in the Centre for Learning atrium (E Building) at the Kelowna campus. The event will feature 10 students from a variety of disciplines including arts, science and business who will present on their final projects. Future Now is open to the public, free to attend and registration is not required.
“The College has incredibly dedicated students who are capable of producing professional quality work,” explains Sharon Josephson OC Associate Dean of Arts and Foundational programs. “The dedication, commitment and skills we constantly see from students is astounding and as future professionals in the region, their work should be seen. We felt a showcase like this would be a great way to celebrate students and give members of the community a chance to see what’s coming down the pipe.”
Josephson came up with the idea for Future Now after attending a student poetry reading. She found herself exploring the possibility of creating a College-wide platform to discover student skills from all disciplines. She joined forces with Director of Library Services Ross Tyner to bring the inaugural showcase to life.
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