Students Document Pandemic with New Tools

Justina Sexton was selected by classmates to be the Executive Producer for the COMM 261 project.
Justina Sexton, COMM 261 Executive Producer
March 12, 2021

College of Western Idaho's (CWI) COMM 261 Multimedia Storytelling classes embarked on an exciting opportunity this semester.

Dan Garrity, Marketing & Communications faculty, uses an element of the Onramp program known as Everyone Can Create in the class, and his students will use Apple's media platforms on iPads to generate thought-provoking stories benefiting the CWI community.

"Every student is their own producer, and their iPad is the capture device and with editing they are cable of being the authors of their own story – to clarify and empower their storytelling capabilities," he said.

Garrity has more than 100 students participating in his classes, so he thought, 'Why don't we fix some stuff,' and the classes began a project called COVID's Head Games, with students exploring the effects of the pandemic on fellow students. Instead of working on just one project the entire semester, students produce various content throughout the semester including memes, logos, videos, and stories.

"This is the epitome of teaching when you can assist a student, and they can make a difference in the community by applying the skills they are learning in school," he added.

Garrity uses a real-world newsroom approach to the storytelling endeavor. Students elected one of their peers to be the Executive Producer. Justina Sexton, a second-year student, is passionate about the mission.

"Storytelling is at the core of the human experience when it's done right," Sexton said. "It transcends time and place because all of human history has had people telling stories of their world and culture. I want real, tangible solutions for our community despite COVID's challenges. I want people to look at negatives and be able to turn them into positives."

By taking on challenges during the pandemic, CWI students are making a difference in the Treasure Valley with the skills they are learning in COMM 261.

“The beauty of Everyone Can Create is helping students to put a bunch of tools in their tool belt and then I turn them loose in the community,” Garrity said.

The Onramp program is a partnership between Boise State University, Idaho Distance Learning Academy (IDLA), Apple, and CWI. Visit CWI's Onramp webpage to learn more about the series of courses offered and connect with an advisor.