Sonali Dey says volunteering has helped her grow as a person; she’s among the first to pilot enhanced IBM Activity Kits.
Sonali Dey says volunteering has helped her grow as a person; she’s among the first to pilot enhanced IBM Activity Kits.
Sonali Dey says volunteering has helped her grow as a person; she’s among the first to pilot enhanced IBM Activity Kits.
Sonali Dey says volunteering has helped her grow as a person; she’s among the first to pilot enhanced IBM Activity Kits.

IBM® Activity Kits are undergoing major changes to improve the user experience and content quality.

Since 2003, IBM Activity Kits—prepackaged online resources designed to accelerate a volunteer’s time to service with schools or not-for-profit agencies—have been used by over 150,000 people around the world for more than 20 million hours of service.

“Activity Kits reduce barriers volunteers face when preparing to lead activities in their communities,” says Taylor Gillespie, an offering manager on the IBM Corporate Citizenship team who is leading the effort to revamp the kits.

“There’s been a surge of interest by volunteers who want to use their specialized skills to help those in need. Activity Kits provide an easy way for volunteers to do just that.”

Time for a refresh
Covering diverse topics, such as STEM education, cyber security, the environment and disaster relief, Activity Kits were introduced and available for IBM employees and retirees with the 2003 launch of the IBM On-Demand Community. Today, the kits are available to the general public.

While many new kits have been added to capture the emergence of topics like cognitive computing and app development, their core mission remains the same: to inspire more volunteers to have a greater positive impact on their communities.

“We’re enhancing the kits to streamline the user experience and make it even easier for volunteers to get involved, update content to meet a higher quality standard and create new Activity Kits that use IBM technology and volunteers’ specialized skills,” she says.

Taylor engaged the IBM Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Influencer Network to promote the use of the enhanced Activity Kits.

The CSR Influencer Network is currently a pilot program designed to create a global community of IBMers who are passionate about social impact. Taylor encouraged the CSR influencers to use the enhanced Activity Kits in their communities and share their input.

Sonali Dey, an IBM Center of Competency operations manager in New Delhi, India, was among the first to answer Taylor’s call and provided invaluable input on the new experience.

Interview with a CSR influencer and volunteer
IBM Volunteers had a chance to speak with Sonali to learn about her experience with the new kits and what others can look forward to.

Sonali, what was your motivation to participate in this project?
I have a passion to make an impact on the society and this project helped me express that passion. It gives me immense satisfaction to work with kids. If I can share my experience and knowledge, it might motivate or inspire a student to be a more responsible citizen and innovate for society. Another important thing is that while working with the young ones we learn a lot, and it becomes an enriching experience.

Tell us about your experience with the new IBM Activity Kits
I learned about the project in a Slack channel discussion and connected with Marlee Stesin to be a part of the pilot. Then I went through the list of the new activity kits and looked for ones that could be completed in one session. I short-listed the kits that I found interesting and reviewed the presentations and other preparation materials.

They’re packaged in very collective manner. I like the way on the new website you can mouse over a particular Activity Kit and get quick information about it: a quick description, duration and audience age. Then the steps are broken down into Learn, Prepare, Rehearse, Facilitate. It’s very intuitive.

I’m going to use the Activity Kit about the Summit supercomputer and AI in my next school session in early August.

Had you used IBM Activity Kits before?
Yes, in 2017 I was lucky to be selected as a mentor for a school in Delhi in the Atal Tinkering Labs program, which helps students with STEM education. I looked for an online community of other volunteers and came across the Activity Kits. They helped me chalk out the lesson plans for the kids. I used the IBM Cloud™ account with them to explain Watson™, cloud and machine learning with the help of the kits.

I’ve also used kits about chatbots, IoT and AI, which were very informative and provided clear guidance on what to do and how.

What do you believe are the primary benefits of IBM Activity Kits?
They provide clarity on the topics along with step-by-step instructions on how to execute the activities. A volunteer doesn’t need to create her own materials from the beginning, and you don’t need to be an expert in a topic because the kit provides all the basics.

I would like to see a kit on the Arduino programming language as it’s often used in robotics. I'm ready to contribute in creating that kit! An IBM volunteer in the UK won an IBM Volunteer Excellence Award for creating an Activity Kit—that’s inspirational.

What’s most personally satisfying to you about being a volunteer?
It’s helped me grow as a person. I realized we all have a responsibility to society, and I do feel blessed to get this opportunity to make an impact. It’s helped me get connected with my own self. IBM's diverse culture and enriching knowledge bank has really been a benefit to me as a volunteer.

Note: The new Activity Kits continue to undergo enhancements, though the existing library is still available here.

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About these stories

Read about IBMers whose volunteer efforts are improving communities around the world.

Activity Kits

IBM’s volunteer Activity Kits include everything you need for a range of activities.