Encourage students to design with the intent to help

My students completed their final projects for my Online Media class. Their projects impressed me. Many students have not had any technical skills training prior to this class.

I was also moved by my students’ desire to help people with their research and reporting on difficult topics.

I try to encourage students to create a site that reflects quality and experimentation. I ask students several questions as they design their final projects:

  1. Is this information meaningful?
  2. Are you helping?
  3. Why is this information important?
  4. Will people understand what you are trying to communicate?

I would also suggest another tip to educators. People need context. To help orient the reader, students should use summary decks, definition of terms, information history boxes, timelines, lists of facts, a resources page, etc. to help readers understand the issue. I often ask my students what do people need in order to understand this topic.

Next semester I plan to try another experiment focused on encouraging public engagement. I will let you know how it turns out. Feel free to browse my students’ sites.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, it attacks brain and spinal cord cells responsible for muscle movement. About 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time, according to the ALS Association. Currently, there is no cure. ALS affects more than just nerves—it wears at patients’ families, lifestyles and emotions. From the loss of independence to the loss of a loved one, the struggles are plenty for those affected.

The Pain of Healing
Self-injury is a difficult topic to discuss. Society often fails to look past the cuts and burns to find the real source of pain. This website provides an in-depth look at different behaviors associated with self-injury, the reasoning behind these behaviors, and treatment options for those wanting to seek help. After conducting extensive research on this topic, the goal is to raise awareness and help erase the stigma associated with self-harm.

For Sale: A Home Foreclosure Educational Resource

From the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to ASU’s Civil Justice Clinic, resources aimed at helping families overcome the effects of foreclosure have attempted to alleviate the situation. These are the stories of the impact of home foreclosure in Phoenix.

Scars of War
In 2001, the United States became embattled in the longest war in U.S. history. Since it began, more than 42,000 military members have returned home injured. These injuries can range from concussions to missing limbs. But they also include injuries that aren’t physically visible. No scars are the same. And every wounded warrior experiences them differently. This is an in-depth look at service members’ experiences and how they deal with the prolonged effects of war in the Middle East.

The Perils of Public Transit
A team of reporters sought to more precisely understand the public transit conflict. You can read stories about local bus drivers, the dangers that Phoenix bus operators face, the status of contract negotiations, and the future of passenger service.

Immigration Economics
Even before Arizona’s immigration law, known as SB 1070, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio made it his goal to end illegal immigration in his county. His plans are to arrest and turn over illegal immigrants, who were violating other laws such as working with fake documents, to Immigration officials. So far, Arpaio’s office has arrested hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants, but little is known about what happens to those arrested. This site touches on some of those issues.

Citizens of Nowhere
The journeys of refugees from their countries of origin to the United States may last only a few days, but adjusting to their new life is a long process — one that often involves government-funded agencies and community groups. Once the refugees become citizens, they often create cultural centers and continue their traditional celebrations. This site shares some of those stories.



2 thoughts on “Encourage students to design with the intent to help

  1. Veterans Directory

    I like what your doing and could use your help. If you need a tip on a topic I have one for you. Veteran Unemployment is much higher than average. The suicide rate is also much higher. When I learned this I just thought “How could I help? I’m also a Service Disabled Marine Corps Veteran, been through some tough times myself and am now on a mission to promote and support Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses. The Wounded Warriors are coming home, getting out of the service and the jobs are very limited. Therefore many are starting their own businesses in an attempt to survive and support their families. These Wounded Warriors do very much NEED our support! For this reason we have created VeteransDirectory.com AKA The “Wounded Warrior Directory” a directory of over 5000 disabled veteran businesses that need and DESERVE our support. Please Help us let others know about these businesses by linking to Veterans Directory, liking us on Facebook, grabbing one of our banners or badges to display on your site, mention us in articles and or whatever else you can think of to support these veterans. Thank you for helping to support this cause!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>