Throughout a ten-week period in the first months of this year, the Goldin Institute has been engaged with students in Professor Lisa Dush’s “Writing Digital Content” course at DePaul University, in a service-learning partnership. A senior advisor to the organization for the GATHER platform, Professor Dush invited the institute to engage with a team of four graduate students--Hannah Colwill, Rachel Landgraf, Delasha Long, and Adam Obringer--for the eventual development of a “Content Strategy Report” following in-person and virtual consultations with staff members.
Working with real organizations not only gives my students a way to apply concepts they’re learning, it also gives them ownership of an important project over the duration of the term. Organizations like the Goldin Institute exposes my students to all the great work being done by Chicago-area nonprofits.
In this partnership, the emphasis is on documenting the important aspects of an organization’s content strategy that have not yet been documented: for example: Who are the organization’s key audiences? What are its key messages? What platforms is the organization posting on, and how often? What engagement are they getting, and how does that compare with peer organizations?
The Content Strategy report produced by the DePaul graduate students on behalf of the Goldin Institute included half a dozen major recommendations, as well as the development of “personas” to assist in identifying core audiences for the institute’s digital content, as well as a review of social media and website material, and a recommended calendar for dissemination of information via the organization’s multiple outlets.
Dush, an Assistant Professor in DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse undertakes research on new media storytelling and organizational processes. Previously, she founded and led a Boston-based company called “Storybuilders.” Dr. Dush has worked with the Goldin Institute for several years as a Senior Advisor on the Gather platform and has led a "Digital Storytelling" workshop in Port au Prince for our partners in Haiti.
Partnering with organizations like the Goldin helps my students to understand the challenges of executing a content strategy in a real organizational setting,” explains Dush. “There is nothing like getting to know a particular organization like the Goldin—including its mission, its priorities, and its constraints—to make real the theory we read and the ideas we learn."