The Online Community Advocacy Project asks students working in groups to produce a campaign to make a tangible, beneficial change in the local community through online advocacy. The capacity of online networks and digital technologies to change shared spaces is burgeoning, and (as we will see) has become a salient academic, popular, and commercial topic.
Groups will have the opportunity to incorporate multiple technologies into their advocacy campaign, including Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, YouTube, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, iPhone and other smartphone apps, etc. Choice of technologies will be determined by groups based upon the rhetorical potentials of the situation, however at least three separate technological deployments are required. Advocacy topic choice is wide open. Topics need not be overly grandiose, but they should be interesting, useful, and productive for a specific local group. Topics should not replicate existing advocacy campaigns. If an existing campaign is in place, the group must find a way to extend it to a new audience, context, or purpose for the topic to be viable.
Watch this short video about an attempt by University of Mississippi students to change the school's mascot:
Notice that multiple online technologies were deployed in this campaign, including Facebook, Twitter, and a Web page. (Several offline materials also were used, including T-shirts, posters, and flyers.) Although this campaign ultimately was not successful (largely due to copyright reasons), it demonstrates the capacity of online networks to facilitate tangible change.
One of the projects undertaken by previous students in this class was to get a bike path demarcated on Chancellor's Walk. The group utilized multiple online technologies to effect this tangible change:
Although there were practical challenges to effecting this change, the group's efforts were covered by local television news.
The links below will help you identify audiences that can implement tangible local changes.