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Students to explore social media's role during three-day charrette

April 07, 2010

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

Social media have continued to evolve and have become a staple in many businesses. In response to social media’s growing influence on society, Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) and College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) are setting students to work on the problem of developing new ways for businesses to communicate internally as well as connect with their clientele through interactive, user-driven information technologies.

VPA’s COLAB and the iSchool will host a three-day charrette April 16-18 for 36 students selected from several of SU’s schools and colleges. A charrette, sometimes called a design charrette, is an intense design-based project completed through interdisciplinary collaborative work over a short period of time. Charrettes serve as a way of quickly generating a design solution through interdisciplinary collaborative work, integrating the aptitudes and interests of a diverse group of people.

During the Social Media Futures Charrette, the students will develop ideas over a three-day period to advance social media’s impact in business and explore ways to maximize its potential. They will conduct their work in COLAB, on the fourth floor of The Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., Syracuse.

Students from each college will be nominated by their dean to participate in the charrette. Those selected will take part in idea-developing activities designed to jump-start the creative process, including presentations by leaders in industry who are advancing the study and usage of social media. Participants will be advised by the COLAB team throughout the innovative process and will be able to respond to the professionals brought in to present.

“Millenials—whose fabric is woven with social media—offer a perspective that no generation has had yet, where a world without social networking has never existed,” says COLAB Executive Director Chris McCray. “This short and immediate program serves as an exploratory and small example of what a longer conversation could generate. My hope would be that students who participate in the process gain a better understanding of the potential that social media can play in their lives post academia.”

Anthony Rotolo, iSchool social media strategist and co-organizer of the event, says students can play an important role in shaping the future corporate environment. “Most major corporations are still scrambling to find effective ways to incorporate social media in their business and communications efforts,” he says. “Our students live in this social media world, and they are currently leading the transformation of how companies, as well as other elements of society, interact. Our students, after all, are the employees, customers and clients of tomorrow. We expect some innovative ideas to be generated during this charrette process. It should be very exciting.”

Students will begin the charrette Friday evening with dinner, introductions and some ice breakers. Saturday morning of the charrette kicks off with a conversation with a group of innovators, including Sean Branagan of Digital Vertical, Matt Hames of Eric Mower and Associates, digital marketer and iSchool alumnus Josh Frost ’08 and iSchool alumna Alana Edmunds ’08 from GE’s Information Management Leadership Program. Later in the day, the student participants will hear from current SU student entrepreneurs Eric Cleckner ’10 and Dave Chenell ’10 of and Dan McSwain, who worked on President Barack Obama’s social media campaign.

The student teams will present their projects and ideas to community, university and business leaders on Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Warehouse Auditorium. The hope is that the businesses and professionals attending the presentations will be able to implement some of the students’ ideas within their organizations. A video documentary of the charrette process will also be shown.

COLAB was created to bring together students and faculty from various disciplines, with diverse skills and experiences, to learn how to approach problems collaboratively and share multiple perspectives while working toward creative solutions. COLAB will nurture partnerships with institutions and organizations from education, government, commerce and public interest from the local community and beyond.

The charrette is part of Common Ground, a yearlong exploration, sponsored by the iSchool and VPA, focusing on the intersections between information, technology, art and design.

The student presentations on Sunday, April 18, at 4 p.m. in the Warehouse Auditorium are open to the public. R.S.V.P.s are requested by April 8 to or (315) 443-1476.

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