Students create content for department sites through Content Corps

by Heyi Jiang | 2/22/16 8:27pm

In January, the Student Content Corps officially launched as a new program with a two-fold goal. First proposed by web content strategist Sarah Maxell Crosby ’04, the Content Corps primarily generates content for the College’s academic departments’ websites, while giving students the chance to work on a web-based product.

In November 2013, Maxell Crosby attended a conference called “Confab Edu,” where she saw the presentation of a group of students from Rochester Institute of Technology who created content for the RIT’s admission site. Maxell Crosby said that the College’s web services support more than 200 websites across the institution and more than 500 site editors, who are maintaining those websites and do not have the time to generate content for the sites.

In the case of the College’s academic departments websites, students and their parents make up the majority of visitors. The academic department websites are highly important to potential students, Maxwell Crosby noted, since these sites could be their first exposure to the Dartmouth experience. While there are plenty of “great stories” taking place across the College’s academic departments, there aren’t enough storytellers to deliver those stories to the sites’ visitors, she added.

“We thought that if we hired a team of students that can go out there and find the stories and create the stories and put them on these websites, then we could elevate the level of narrative at all these sites,” she said.

Content Corps program coordinator Christiann Pearson said that the group uses the usability testing service from TryMyUI, to train students involved with the Content Corps.

“When [students] have finished their time with us, they are not just great storytellers, but they know about writing for the web, accessibility, usability and the importance of user experience being the center of your design when it comes to the web,” Maxell Crosby said.

Pearson added that the Content Corps will provide a learning opportunity for students in the Corps to start filling up their portfolios and get practice with writing, in particular for the web, photography, and content strategy.

The Content Corps currently involves only two students, but looks to expand the team.

Gricelda Ramos ’18, one of the students involved with the group, said that she has been interviewing students about their academic projects as well as working on presentations.

“I think that being able to choose even your own font is so decisive and such a demonstration of authority and autonomy,” Ramos said.

Danny Kim ’18, the other student on the team, said that current students at the College can benefit from the Content Corps’ services as well. He said that students will have access to information of what they can do with their major and what upperclassmen are planning on doing with their major.

“We want to show the experience of being a part of this academic department,” he said. “That’s one really big area where current students can get more insight into.”

Ramos and Kim are currently working on a series of profiles of Dartmouth students who are doing research, which the Content Corps will be taking to academic departments as examples of the group’s services. Besides the student profiles, the team will also be creating content about the programs, special events and faculty research featured by various academic departments, providing both current students and visitors with narratives containing helpful information.

Such narratives could include covering stories not featured on other platforms such as Dartmouth Now. The group can help departments create that content, Maxell Crosby said.

The Content Corps plans to add one or two more students to build up the team, and as the team grows bigger, students will gain more responsibilities, including managing the Corps’ projects and working directly with the clients.

“It’s been a great start, so we are just kind of building on that momentum, piece by piece, making it a little better each term,” Pearson said.

Correction appended (Feb. 23, 2016):

The original title of this article incorrectly stated that students build department sites through Content Corps. In fact, students create content for department sites through Content Corps. The article also stated thatGricelda Ramos ’18, one of the students involved with the group, was designing websites. In fact, she does not design websites, but was working on a presentation through Content Corps.

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