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GIFTS and Reaching Beyond the Core

Four members of the Queens community represented the university at the annual Carolinas Communication Conference Oct. 5-6 at Rose Hill Estate in Aiken, S. C. Grad student and Knight School of Communication community coordinator Jennifer Hull was a finalist for the Mary Jarrard graduate paper prize for her paper on building community by blogging. In a competitively selected Great Ideas for Teaching Students (GIFTS) session, Knight School faculty member Dr. Leanne Pupchek shared her experience and materials for teaching Feminist Approaches to Media. Dr. Alexis Carriero co-presented with undergraduate student Ralitsa Francois, a political science major, on their Core 122 digital citizenship service learning project.

During her first year at Queens, Dr. Carreiro developed the Digital Citizenship program as a way to help students see how digital technology can positively impact the communities in which they work and live. The digital citizenship program became part of the Modern Citizenship course (Core 122), which all traditional undergraduates take in their freshman year.

The class explores what it means to be a citizen in contemporary society and encourages students to contribute to the communities in which they live.  Some of the questions they discussed were: What digital skills do you need to participate as a modern citizen in contemporary society? What resources are available to people to possess those skills? And, what resources are not available to people who don't have access to technology-or the ability to use it?

As part of their service-learning assignment last spring, the class created an online learning platform in Moodle. Students developed digital resources for members of the Charlotte community (such as web- linked Charlotte resource guides about education, healthcare, and community resources, and short instructional videos about how to create and use various social media accounts) to host on the online learning platform.

Then, for two weeks last March, five Core faculty members led 10 digital citizenship workshops throughout the city of Charlotte where 80 students worked one-on-one to help community members learn new digital tools and skills. It's part of the Knight School's goal to help people see how they can use digital technology in meaningful ways that contribute to the social health and long-term viability of their communities.

For the CCA conference, "I had the opportunity to bring a student who had created some of the original content for the website in the spring semester. She also did an outstanding job at the community workshop," said Dr. Carreiro. "Ralitsa Francois did an incredible job as my co-presenter on the GIFTS panel. I think this is a great opportunity for her and a great way to expand the reach of the Core program beyond Queens."

"This collaboration between the Knight School of Communication, the  Core Program in the Liberal Arts, and the Political Science department in the  College of Arts & Sciences is a perfect example of the kind of integrated learning that students regularly experience at Queens," added  Dr. Lynn Morton, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.  "A liberal arts foundation along with specialized education and experiential learning prepares students to be thoughtful, creative, and highly qualified professionals."

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