Keeping It Real: The Spaces and Places of the Digital Citizen

Presenter: Ben McCorkle
School Affiliation: Ohio State University at Marion
Email: mccorkle.12 at osu.edu  


Sarabeth (over black): It felt more professional; it felt like we were being entrusted with something that was bigger than us.

SOUNDTRACK: “Sooner or Later” by Geert Veneklass.

EPIGRAPH: “There are gaps in the wizard’s curtain through which ordinary citizens may poke their noses, even at this primitive stage of the digital era. The challenge for those who would defend rhetoric is to establish a strong participatory tradition with/in the network: a tradition where citizens don’t merely browse, but invent, discuss, and negotiate.” Hart-Davidson, Zappen, and Halloran, 138.

TITLE: Keeping It Real: The Places & Spaces of the Digital Citizen Voice-over: This is a story about what happens when we give our students the skills, the tools, and the opportunity to create real things in a real world.


Voice-over: This is a story that begins with a grant--the Pay It Forward Student Philanthropy Grant funded by CNCS and the Learn and Serve America Higher Ed Organization. OSU Marion was awarded the grant in order to let students in several English classes throughout the year decide how to divvy it up among eligible area non-profits.

Joey: You don’t want to produce something that’s sub-par because people are actually going to see what you’re producing. So you’re going to be more willing to put in the work and learn more, learn different aspects that you’re not accustomed to learning because of the fact that your name is on it, and people are going to see it.


Voice-over: This is a story of two classes--in two locations. My digital media composing course on the Marion campus partnered with my friend Amy Tibbals’ second-year writing course at our Delaware Center, some twenty miles away. We were their technology consultant team during their philanthropic project. While they gathered proposals and deliberated on funding, we produced deliverables using their assets. Because of this geographical separation, we were faced with many logistical challenges that we attempted to solve using tools such as Skype, Dropbox, and our university CMS to communicate and trade files.

Nick: At first, I thought it would be pretty straight-forward, just another job, something you had to do. I got the feeling later on that it was more significant to actually care about-I mean, I care about all my work-but you definitely have a sense of “I have to make this exceptional” when you’re working for clients such as a non-prof because when you do work for a non-prof, you’re not just putting your own name on the line, you’re putting their name on the line.


Voice-over: This is also a story of three non-profit organizations, groups that serve the hungry, the chronically ill, and the disadvantaged citizens of our community: Flying Horse Farms, the Dublin Food Pantry, and Habitat for Humanity of Delaware County. They make it their business to serve others in need, and so we in turn work to serve them, by not only providing financial support, but also volunteer labor, promotion, and increased attention to their missions.

Sarabeth: I think it had a huge effect on the work, having to work for an actual client. It made it feel like it was something completely different; it made it feel like it wasn’t just a silly college project. It felt like we were actually doing something like business, business-type work, and it was fun being able to conceptualize and see something that might possibly end up being used somewhere.


Voice-over: This is a story about the fruits of our labor, the things that we made in conjunction with this grant partnership, things that helped generate a civic-minded ethos in our classroom. These products included: a poster, flier, and digital ad campaign for Flying Horse Farms, specifically targeted at OSU Marion students to encourage volunteers to step forward. This also included a poster and digital ad campaign for Habitat for Humanity, to help promote their Brush With Kindness home renovation program. A third team created a promotion video for the Dublin Food Pantry, to be shown at community meetings and fundraisers to help explain their mission to the public.


Finally, this is a story of the green shoots emerging after the project, the consequences, both intended and unintended, of encouraging the formation of digital citizens. Several students from my class and campus at large have been persuaded to volunteer at all three of these organizations, as well as others. A film production club even grew out of my class, and they’re already working on projects with both campus and community partners. This is a story about what happens when we give our students the skills, the tools, and the opportunity to create real things in a real world: they thrive.


References & Resources

A trailer of this work is available at YouTube.

Campus Compact. (2012). Pay it forward initiative. Retrieved from http://www.compact.org/initiatives/college-student-philanthropy/pay-it-forward-initiative/

Delaware County Habitat for Humanity. (2012). Retrieved from http://habitatdelawareco.org/ Dublin Food Pantry. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.dublinfoodpantry.org/ Flying Horse Farm. (2012). Retrieved from http://flyinghorsefarms.org/

Hart-Davidson, W., Zappen, J.P., & Halloran, S.M. (2005). On the formation of democratic citizens: rethinking the rhetorical tradition in a digital age. In. R. Graff, A.E. Walzer, & J.M. Atwill (Eds.) The viability of the rhetorical tradition (pp. 125-40). Albany: SUNY Press.

McCorkle, B. (2012). Keeping it real: the spaces and places of the digital citizen (trailer). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTlro7yFhrM.

CONTACT ME at mailto:mccorkle.12@osu.edu mccorkle.12 at osu.edu for more info, including copies of grant materials, course syllabus, and related documents.

Created by admin. Last Modification: Monday July 7, 2014 15:49:18 GMT-0000 by admin.