Expanding Student Reach with Kris Hodgson-Bright and Lethbridge College
Starting as a pilot in the Spring of 2020 and then adapted fully for the 2020/2021 academic year, Lethbridge College in Southern Alberta joins the 150+ campuses across North America using Riipen. Lethbridge College is one of 16 Canadian post-secondary institutions using Riipen funded through the second phase of the RBC Future Launch partnership.
This year, 5 different programs have introduced Riipen into their classrooms including Digital Communications and Media instructor Kris Hodgson-Bright. Our team had the opportunity to speak with Kris about his Riipen experience and how his students’ work was published through their project.
Kris is an instructor within Lethbridge College’s Digital Communications and Media Program. He conducted his Riipen project with seven second-year digital journalism students and partnered with two organizations.
The first of two industry partners Kris matched with is Dorkaholics based in Los Angeles, California. Dorkaholics is a growing online publication home to content around topics at the intersection of pop culture and ethnic identity for audiences who have been underrepresented in mainstream media. Dorkaholics wanted the help of students to move their business forward and help them continue to grow. Students were tasked with understanding the publication’s audience base and crafting well-researched pieces that were relevant and interesting.
Kris’ second industry partner was the International Indigenous Speakers Bureau (IISB) in Saskatoon who was searching for students to assist in a number of marketing and communications related areas. Students from Lethbridge College were paired with a speaker and helped refine speaker biographies, write features on their speaker, and had the opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture.
Kris stated that the projects were “really informative for the students. I think it was a really great eye-opening experience for them. So, I have nothing but great things to say so far about this semester and two great partnerships”.
Expanding Reach and Opportunities for Students
Prior to working with Riipen, digital journalism students would write on different topics that were published on the college’s Lethbridge Campus Media website and shared via social media. Through their Riipen project, students were able to go beyond their school’s community and have their work published through their industry partner as well.
Two published articles by Lethbridge students include: “Celebrating ‘ Avatar’: The Last Airbender” by Nathan Reiter and “Star Trek: Voyager, Impacting Lives Since 1995” by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman.
Seeing these opportunities unfold was incredibly exciting and “enabled us to go that much further with our breadth and width of what we cover [in the class],” says Kris. Students were able to explore new styles of writing and establish relationships that they can continue to build on if they choose to.
Student and Employer Response
For both students and industry partners, there has been nothing but positive feedback. Lethbridge College showcased in a press release the benefits of working with Riipen in their classrooms.
The students found the projects fun and engaging as it allowed them to dig into their interests at a level that even Kris said he didn’t expect. Students got dressed up for their meetings with their industry partner and did their own deeper research on the topic they wrote on.
Kris also credits the success of his projects to his wonderful partners. “For Dorkaholics, Neil [founder] has been great. He's just been nothing but enthusiastic about the work that's coming in and it's been really great to see how supportive he has been of the students work”. Kris shares that Neil has even asked students for their biographies and photos and promoted their work through his website and social media giving students an opportunity to be showcased in an American market
Working with the International Indigenous Speakers Bureau has also been a wonderful experience. ”I think the students have really appreciated just learning about indigenous culture and having that greater understanding,” says Kris.
Advice for New Users
As this was Neil’s first time using Riipen, we asked if he had any advice for other new users. He suggests starting early so all your projects are solidified before the semester begins to ensure you are clear about expectations with both students and industry partners. This project is not supposed to be a burden so ensure you communicate with all parties and work with your industry partners to make sure the scope of your project is realistic within the timeframe of a semester.
Getting everything set up can be overwhelming, but Riipen’s team of customer success associates are also here to support you throughout the project. Just as Neil has done, you are able to sit down with your Riipen team member and go through all your potential partners to find the best possible fit.
A huge thank you to Kris for speaking with us and sharing his experience. To learn more about Riipen and how to get started with experiential learning, visit our website and keep up with Riipen on Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and Facebook.