Projects with purpose: New journal article highlights Project Cities model

TWC 422 students pitch to City of Glendale staff, Fall 2018

 Dr. Stephen Carradini recently highlighted his work with Project Cities in a new journal article, “Civic social media: A detailed case for classroom use.” Dr. Carradini has taught at ASU in the College of Integrative Science and Arts technical communication program for the past five years. His own research interests include studying emerging technologies in professional spaces, such as the use of Kickstarter campaigns. 

Check out the journal article: Civic social media: A detailed case for classroom use

Social media in the workplace

Social media is a critical tool for communication, and its use at the civic level is critical for communicating and engaging with communities around city services, events, and crisis communications. As organizations continue to recognize the opportunities in mobilizing social media, it is vital to develop a strategic approach to social media that recognizes the importance of communicating with the community at a civic level, while also being mindful of how they engage through their messaging. With the benefits of more open communication through social media, cities are increasingly challenged by maintaining a balance of actively engaging with the community through social media, while being mindful of its framing and portrayal to community members. As the procedures around social media continue to evolve, in 2018 the City of Glendale engaged with Dr. Carradini’s graduate and undergraduate social media in the workplace courses to research and design policies and procedures for city engagement on social media.  

In the 15-week course, undergraduate students constructed a social media plan that included proposed social media budgets, scheduling, content ideas, and audience analysis. Students identified four major demographics to cater content to, including retirees, tourists, businesses, and the City’s Hispanic population. Based on these demographics, students built out strategies for various social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

Project lead Brent Stoddard visits TWC 422, Fall 2018

In addition to the undergraduate course, the online graduate course researched and designed policies and procedures for Glendale to consider with its social media planning. Issues related to copyright and security issues, as well as procedures in the event of a social media crisis. Example policies included:

  • Glendale employees may associate their accounts with the City of Glendale, but must clearly differentiate their own online activities from their professional ones. 
  • Include a social media post removal policy that states that the City reserves the right to block, remove, or hide any posts that violate state and federal laws. 
  • Clearly define what is considered “hate speech” in accordance with State and Federal laws. This includes libel, racist comments, threats, cyberbullying, and extortion.

Check out the project final summary report.

A hands-on methodology designed for classroom use

While service learning or project-based learning models are not new, there are opportunities to engage students in technical communication courses to facilitate student-engaged learning experiences with real-world clients. Dr. Carradini outlines a simple framework for incorporating this model in technical communication courses by aligning weekly modules with parts of a social media plan, such as marketing strategies, planning and execution, and social media analytics. With this, students are actively engaging with the content as they learn it by applying it with a client. Through meetings with the client and early project scoping, students are able to produce a deliverable specialized to their client’s community while gaining important professional development skills.

Project-based learning with Arizona communities

As a successful case study in project-based learning, Project Cities continues to engage Arizona’s communities through its mutually-beneficial partnership that bridges faculty and student expertise with real-world challenges. As students co-create solutions with their local communities, they have the opportunity to work with city staff to cultivate an interest in local governments and agencies. 

Project Cities is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N) and is administered by ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and the Sustainable Cities Network. Stay up to date with Project Cities and the Sustainable Cities Network by following us on social media or subscribing to our newsletter