“CAROL: Students Working on Real-World Projects Empowering Local Cultural Non-Profits” by Goodman and Jacobs

  • ©Gordon Goodman and Stephen Jacobs




    CAROL: Students Working on Real-World Projects Empowering Local Cultural Non-Profits



    In the Rochester Institute of Technology graduate course “Topics in Interactive Multimedia,” students build Web sites for CAROL (Culture and Arts of Rochester Online). Sponsored by the local arts and cultural council, CAROL currently showcases the sites of over 20 local arts and cultural institutions and includes an online events calendar and a database of local artists.

    Several factors make the Topics course a unique experience for students, faculty, and the organizations that participate. The CAROL consortium and Web sites are an outgrowth of the class. The course draws students from disciplines and departments within the university to work together as a cross-disciplinary team that works with representatives of the arts organizations whose sites are being developed. The representatives attend the class as both clients and students to support development of their sites and to learn to maintain and manage them after the class is over. Community investment in CAROL extends to a local service provider who donates shell accounts and Web hosting to the non-profits free of charge.

    A pro bono local arts marketing campaign will use www.carol.org as its focus. The campaign will include not only Web marketing (such as banners and the like) but newspaper ads, billboards, and other traditional advertising media.

    Real-world learning requires real-world problems. The Topics course is less about implementing “cutting edge” technology and more about building a site that matches the needs of the clients and their audiences. The course content, while it generally focuses on advanced Web building tools and techniques, also changes to meet the needs of the clients. The subtext of the course is collaboration. Building Web sites requires not only technical and artistic proficiency but content. Our students have the skills, and the cultural and artistic organizations have the content. The blend of providing a service for these non-profits while creating real Web sites fires the student’s enthusiasm; they end up pouring their hearts into the project. Everyone wins.


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