Leveraging social media to enhance african-american students' learning

Ingrid Sturgis, M.A.

May 12, 2012


She's everywhere. She's on Twitter. She's on Facebook. She's on Linked In. She's on Delicious, Flicker, Skype, and Google Talk. Ingrid Sturgis, Assistant Professor of New Media in the Department of Journalism, is "fully connected" like the website she produced with the same name: http://www.fully-connected.com. According to Sturgis, her website offers "a new vision in digital media that connects people from Atlanta to Accra through interactive journalism and social networking. It also provides "training and opportunities for journalists, students, and citizens who want to connect the dots by telling stories about their communities and global roots."

Sturgis is firmly rooted in traditional as well as digital journalism. As a print journalist, she has worked for newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Times-Herald Record, and Poughkeepsie Journal and managed magazine "startups" BET Weekend and Savoy. However, by 1985, she had already started exploring interactive media as a member of The New York Times videotext project. Since 2001, she has worked online, as a senior programming manager for AOL's Black Voices, as Editor-in-Chief for Essence.com, and, most recently, as a Web strategist for heartandsoul.com. With colleague Yanick Rice Lamb, she also just started a column about digital media, "Digitally Speaking," in the Howard Magazine.

Consequently, digital media has become the focus of her research. Her research interests encompass everything from the digital divide and distance education to multimedia entrepreneurship to mobile money. As a result of her research, she has earned coveted fellowships from the Fulbright-Hays Program, Western Kentucky University's Dow Jones News Fund, and the Knight Digital Media Center. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, African Americans interact with social media more than any other ethnic group, so Sturgis has been particularly interested in Howard students' engagement with social media. A Washington Post company, Avenue 1000 Media Solutions, ranks Howard 44th among 6,000 colleges and universities for social media use. Sturgis has invited Howard students to pursue their interest in social media in courses such as Teaching Converged Media Through News Coverage of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election and Inauguration as well as Are Traditional Media Dead? Likewise, in this video, Sturgis invites faculty to better understand the potential of social media as a teaching tool while avoiding the pitfalls.

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