Building the Capacity of Organizations for Rhetorical Action with New Media: An Approach to Service Learning


Lisa Dush

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Service-learning projects that connect students in new media writing courses with community organizations are typically framed as opportunities for students to develop production skills through “real-world” projects. This article proposes a different model and rationale for digital-age service-learning projects, in which students teach organizational staff and/or the constituents they serve both how to produce new media texts and how to use these texts for rhetorical action. A pedagogical framework for this model is presented, which outlines three dimensions that constitute the capacity for rhetorical action with new media: functional competence with particular technologies, a critical perspective on technology, and a rhetorical approach to technology and media creation. Two iterations of a course called Digital Storytelling in Organizations, which used this service-learning model and pedagogical framework, are described. A rationale for translating this service-learning model to courses that feature other new media technologies is also discussed.