In this project students explored gentrification in Richmond, but I wanted to experiment with alternative ways for them to present their work that did not involve research papers or in-class presentations. Working with the Alt Lab at VCU, they designed a map on which students could locate sites of gentrification. Students presented their findings through podcasts, that ranged in length from 15 to 40 minutes, and where they described what was happening and why.
What made this type of assignment exciting is that students were able to include in the podcasts the voices of different people in Richmond and who were impacted in various ways by gentrification. This assignment was useful in encouraging students to explore neighborhoods in Richmond other than the usual places they worked, studied, played, and lived. they also understood the dynamics of urban change and renewal from being outside and in the streets rather than just reading about gentrification in class. In the process they developed a wider appreciation for the city and they also learned how to produce podcasts, a good skill to have in today’s increasingly digitalized world.