By Jennifer Hull, Community Coordinator in James L. Knight School of Communication
Here in the James L. Knight School of Communication our goal is to increase digital and media literacy in Charlotte. We are doing this by teaching our students digital literacy and then placing them in volunteer opportunities where they can serve others by sharing their digital knowledge.
Last week we hosted a Social Media Workshop for Myers Park Baptist Church community members.
Nine community members and nine student volunteers filled up the computer lab at the Cornwell Center to listen to presenter, Dr. Kim Weller Gregory, Director of the Masters in Communication program, talk about online safety and Facebook. After her presentation, the one-on-one training with the church members and students occurred. This was my favorite part of the workshop. In my opinion, I believe this is where the magic happens.
As the community coordinator, it is hard to explain to students why this particular service is important. Telling college students who grew up in this world of technology that there is a whole group of people who do not feel comfortable in this digital world is challenging. I can see the dumbfound looks on their faces. However, last Thursday night the students got it. The light bulbs went off.
Throughout Dr. Gregory's presentation, you could feel the students and community members both eager to learn and to teach. The students were attentive, listened and guided their mentees through the Facebook process. Questions were asked in a safe place and thoughtful answers were provided through the one-on-one training session.
In this safe place, community members and students both learned something. Community members mentioned feeling more comfortable maneuvering around the popular digital tool, and the students were able to see first-hand how complicated it is to learn a new digital tool when you are uncomfortable using it in the first place.
The students come to realize how much they are helping someone else just by teaching them something that comes naturally to them. Consequently, they understand how important these digital literacy skills are for everyone. The community members are so thankful for someone taking the time just to walk them through their questions because they never would have done it on their own. The students can tell that they are needed and the community members are so thankful.
The quick relationship that is formed over solving a problem and serving one another is priceless. I am thankful that I have a small hand in setting it up. And I hope the students take it with them long after they graduate.
It is nights like these that I am reminded why I love my job.