This project was an online community engagement analysis and plan for a hyperlocal news site called CU-Citizen-Access, and was created as part of the Summer 2011 Community Informatics Studio class at GSLIS.
The class was run on a studio pedagogy model, in collaboration with the Department of Journalism, CU-Citizen-Access, and a variety of community partners in Champaign-Urbana and East St. Louis, IL. We sought to investigate the emerging phenomenon of online Community Media, to see what fruitful connections might be found between it and library and information science, citizen journalism, digital storytelling, community informatics, community engagement and a variety of other related fields and practices.
The other students in my group worked on a community engagement project in partnership with CU-Citizen-Access. They partnered with a community organization at the Dorsey Homes, a low-income housing project in Champaign, and organized events and created programming to teach the basic multimedia, internet, and social skills needed to participate in community journalism.
Due to a family emergency, I was forced to suspend participation in the course midway through. This online engagement study was conceived both as an alternative way of completing the course requirements, and as a complementary product to the engagement and research work done by the rest of my group.
I combined my professional experience, academic research, and my experiences in the first half of the course to analyze the CU-Citizen-Access website’s user experience in the context of community outreach and online community building, and provide suggested steps for improvement in these areas.