Trinity ‘Writing for a Digital World’ Students Receive Lessons from Community Strategist BuzzFeed
As the use of technology in everyday life increases and more interactions take place virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, learning to communicate effectively online has never been more important.
This is the goal of Trinity College’s Writing for a Digital World course, taught by Nicolas marino, lecturer at the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric. “My goal is for students to become more critical about the types of writing they engage with on a daily basis and how they create communities in a digital world,” said Marino.
One way students learn to think critically about this topic is by using a course unit that examines techniques used by the digital media business. BuzzFeed. Students analyze rhetorical situations online and then demonstrate this knowledge by creating a BuzzFeed article.
To get a glimpse of how this is really done, Marino and his students welcomed into their virtual classroom Anna kopsky, BuzzFeed Community Strategist. Since 2015, Kopsky has worked at BuzzFeed in many roles: as serial killer and horror film focused writer, editor and manager. Kopsky joined Marino’s class to teach “BuzzFeed Community 101,” which included tips and tricks for creating posts and answering student questions.
“Chatting with Anna was amazing,” said Marino. “Even through Zoom, she was able to create an environment similar to the BuzzFeed office in our virtual classroom. She recreated for us a creative brainstorming, a professional and artistic atmosphere.
Students, including Catherine Gustofson ’24, learned how to make a “listicle,” which is an interesting piece of writing presented in the form of a list. Gustofson said, “Anna taught us listicle brainstorming techniques and the qualities of a well-written listicle.” Gustofson wrote a list entitled: “Top 10 old Taylor Swift songs we can’t wait to re-record. Another student, Lily Scalise ’24, wrote an article titled “15 things you’ll want to bring to college that no one will tell you aboutWhich was inspired by her first year of experience at Trinity. Both articles are live on the BuzzFeed website.
Kopsky spoke to the students about his experience working at BuzzFeed, as well as tips on how to be successful in the writing and media professions. She said, “Always bring your personality to an occasion to write, because the beautiful thing about writing is that you can make it your own and make your words stand out and mean something.” Kopsky added: “Be open to criticism and understand that adapting to the changing landscape is really the key.”
In addition to the BuzzFeed unit, Marino’s class includes a unit called “Fact-Checking Fake News,” in which students trace a “fact” from its source and through its path on social media to investigate. its validity. Finally, the unit “Does Social Media Condemn Us?” allows students to use Google docs to annotate articles on the evolution of writing technologies and write an argued essay on the impact of social media on society.
Marino said: “We want to see how rhetoric works in digital spaces, the types of tools used to compose in digital spaces and how these tools enable a more dynamic mode of communication. Additionally, we take a look at how audio, visual, space, and layout all construct an image in a space to achieve a goal or audience. “
Duncan Sopko 23 wanted to take Marino’s course because he appreciates the creative element of writing and wanted to learn better ways to use writing in a digital space. “Dr. Marino is awesome, and I love that the course is not textbook based but focused on creativity, ”said Sopko. “It’s interesting to learn persuasion, rhetoric, and context, and how it all contributes to effective writing.”
Marino’s course also emphasizes the importance of flexibility in digital writing, and he helps his students acquire this skill through the course projects. “I love that the course projects all focus on building, researching, and building opinions. At the same time, I like that they are always different due to the ever changing world of the internet. The course is constantly alive and fresh, and new ideas may emerge because of it, ”said Marino. “I also always remind my students, when we learn and use a new digital resource, that it can be applied to other aspects of their academic and social life at Trinity. These skills are not limited to the classroom, but go far beyond. “
Learn more about the Allan K. Smith Center for Trinity Writing and Rhetoric here.