Thursday, April 23, 2015

UNLConnect Portfolio

Nick Gilbert, Meghan McGuigan-Sporkin, Brandon Knoop
COMM 250 Commons Campaign Portfolio

            As students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we have noticed that many of our classmates do not talk to one another before class and many people sit alone in the dining halls. In our project, titled UNLConnect, we tried to change this by using a variety of methods to encourage interaction between students in an effort to improve the sense of community here on campus. In this project portfolio, we will explain the rhetorical situation, analyze and explain our intervention, and provide a reflection on how we could have improved our campaign.
The rhetorical exigence for our project was that we felt a lessened sense of community in UNL as we had noticed that in each of our classes most people choose not interact with each other and instead are on their phones all the time. Additionally there were a lot of people who sit alone in the dining halls while eating, and we had noticed that no one makes an effort to sit by them or invite them to join. Our rhetorical audience was the student community of UNL because our goal was for UNL to have a more united student population on campus. In our survey, many people commented how most people on campus are good people but don’t socialize with new people. We wanted to address that.
Some of the constraints we considered for our project were that some people will be too stuck in their ways to even attempt interacting with their peers and other people will be too shy to consider talking to a complete stranger. Indeed on our survey, many participants blamed a fear of rejection for not engaging with their classmates. Other people, however, gave the reason that they simply had no desire to interact with classmates. The opportunities for our project to succeed were that a lot of people on our campus are open-minded and social and would be up for the challenge of interacting with their peers especially if one of the outcomes is that they would make new friends. Our goal for this project was to make UNL a more unified campus and get the student body as a whole to engage with one another more rather than relying on strictly their phones and social media for their socialization.
            In terms of invention, our project required us to find the appropriate argument to convince our audience of college students to improve the community through being more social before class and in the dining halls. We decided that the best combination of pathos, ethos, and logos for our situation entailed briefly describing how our project benefits our audience which constituted appeals to logos and pathos, and then telling them honestly why we are doing it and visibly participating in it ourselves which constituted appeals to ethos. In terms of arrangement, when we spoke to our classmates we first described what we were doing and what we wanted them to do, then how it benefited them, and finally why we were doing this project. In terms of memory, we had to know the details of our project and present our campaign in a memorable way. There was always more information available on our UNLConnect Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages. Delivery and style were integral to our success because if we were to be successful we needed people to remember our project and then participate. Therefore we wanted to exhibit the traits associated with good speakers including clear, loud, and dynamic voice and maintaining eye contact. Our style had to be common so that we connected with our audience, but professional so that our audience respected our campaign and wanted to participate.
            We created a Facebook page which we all shared with our friends and groups. In total, it got 29 likes. However, our posts on the Facebook page had an average of 80 viewers. So even if we didn’t have that many likes on Facebook people still looked at our page. Our Twitter account garnered 141 followers. Our tweets averaged about one favorite. As a group shared this Twitter account with their friends who go to college here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nick was in charge of the Twitter account, Brandon was in charge of the Facebook page.
            For our Commons Campaign Project we integrated several different forms of social media cites into reaching out to the community of UNL. Several forms of social media that we utilized included having a Tumblr page as well as using the interactive survey website Survey Monkey. Meghan was in charge of the Tumblr page.
            We were able to elicit a very good number of people who responded to our Survey Monkey survey; over 50 people completed the full survey and 42 people added additional comments at the end of the survey talking about their experiences with interacting with strangers at college. We were able to promote our survey to get our peers to take it, reaching out in several different ways. We used the mass email system on Blackboard to send the survey to people from this class as well as our other classes. We each made an announcement to each of our classes and the groups that we are active in on campus.  Also everyone in the group was able to talk about the project with their friends and acquaintances on campus. We utilized the social media cites that we set up for our Commons Campaign in order to promote our survey to even more people. We posted a link to the survey on the Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr pages.
            Unlike the social media sites that were made, the Tumbler page had the least amount of success with promoting our Commons Campaign. Additionally unlike Facebook where you can see how many people view the groups post, and twitter where you get retweeting notifications-Tumblr proved to be harder to attract people to reblog the post’s about the project. A partial explanation for this is because much more people use Facebook/Twitter than do Tumblr.  Tumblr users also don’t use their real names and the site is less focused on real life social networks. Also most re-blogged pictures or articles on Tumblr usually contain some sort of aspirational quality that you would expect to see on Pinterest. Tumblr is not really conducive for getting a large audience interested in a class project. The format of Tumblr is more conducive to the aspirational blogging style that similar sites such as Pinterest are based on.
            Most of our project went relatively well. Considering the difficulty in producing a viral campaign, we got a good number of responses. We had many comments from our peers which said they really liked our project and our goals. We spent quite a bit of time and effort on our project. Additionally, our group worked well together, despite the difficulty in finding times to meet.

            As a group there is always something that we could in improve on. As a group we thought we could have improved our project’s success by putting up fliers, table tents, and posters around campus. We also could have set up a display outside the Student Union and talk to people passing by and distribute fliers. If we had more funds, we even could have made t-shirts with our logo and goal and distributed them on campus. We also should have planned more content to post on Facebook and Twitter. One last way to improve our project would have been to use an actual, personal website instead of Tumblr. That way we could customize it more and provide an online space for people on campus to interact with one another.

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