The Daily Iowan recently featured a story about the “Ignite a Dream” blog, which grew out of support from the ITS-Instructional Services-based SITA (Student Instructional Technology Assistants) program. As the DI reports, Ignite a Dream allows students to post their dream job or long-term goals in an open forum where people can respond with relevant advice.
SITA James Bechtel took the lead on the project, working with David Gould, a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences associate director for student professional development.Gould was referred by another client who had worked with SITAs on online content and publishing. He has been a frequent user of SITA services for media and web projects. The conversation began with a paper pile of students’ dreams; the idea was to enlist people with UI connections to help students fulfill those aspirations.
Gould and Bechtel settled on WordPress.com space as the engine for the proof-in-concept. It was selected for its simplicity, configurability, openness to the campus and general public, and affordability. They incorporated clean design standards to give the site an uncluttered look, but the bulk of the effort took place behind the scenes to establish a framework for sustaining engagement.
“Because it is a new idea, there was very little culture of connecting campus individuals in a forum like this,” Bechtel says. “David did a great job of connecting people to gather experience and advice from both alumni and people who are currently on campus. He also identified students to advocate the site to their peers, and the combination of those efforts really helped spur interest in the project.”
Moving forward, Gould and Bechtel plan to evaluate what worked with the pilot space and which features would be key for the future of the “Ignite A Dream” concept.
“I fully encourage anyone who is interested to stop by the space and browse the dreams,” Bechtel says. “New dreams are released throughout the semester, and anyone is welcome to leave comments that could contribute to making dreams a reality for the students. I’m amazed with the comments and connections that have already been made and am excited for those to come.”
SITAS are UI graduate and undergraduate students who combine technology resources to create forward-thinking solutions for ITS clients. They are innovative problem-solvers who work individually with instructors and departments to enhance student learning, and provide training and support to larger groups. Currently, 12 UI students are employed as SITAS through ITS.