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Whitworth class will lead workshop on social media practices for caregivers dealing with major health issues

August 26, 2013

Assistant Professor Erica Salkin
“Compassion 2.0” is the title of an upcoming student-led workshop which aims to show attendees how digital and social media tools can be used to help when a friend or family is experiencing a challenging health issue.

The workshop will take place Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 9-10:30 a.m. in Hawthorne Hall, Room 112. It will be offered again from 10:30-noon. The workshop is free and open to the public, and takes place in conjunction with Whitworth’s annual Community Building Day, a 106-year-old tradition at Whitworth that is dedicated to community service.

“I think a lot of new media tools have received a bit of a bad rap in the larger narrative today,” says Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Erica Salkin, whose class is leading the workshop. “People see them either as flighty or as somehow insidious, but they really are just tools, and remarkably versatile ones. People have a lot more control over them than they think they do.”

Salkin says the outpouring of support that people often provide has the potential to become both a blessing and a bother to those trying to recover from, or deal with, a major health issue. The workshop will help inform the public on how to channel communication and support in a more controllable, constructive way.
“Everyone wants to know the latest, everyone wants to know how they can help, and everyone wants you to know that they are thinking of you. That's encouraging, but can also be exhausting,” Salkin says. “New media tools can help you handle those information needs in a way that you control.”

Participants in the workshop will walk through different tutorials created specifically to meet the needs of families and caregivers in health- or medical-related situations. Participants will learn how to select tools that meet their needs, create user accounts, set privacy options to control who views information, work with add-ons such as calendars, and to choose from levels of interactivity that are appropriate for the audience or situation.

The workshop is a hands-on event led by pairs of freshman students who will work with participants in small groups and on an individual basis. In addition to providing great benefit for workshop participants, the event will be a valuable experience for students who will gain public-speaking and service-learning experience. Salkin says students will also learn some of the other benefits to new media tools outside of the more casual status updates or photos that many millennials are so comfortable sharing. “Growing up in this modern technology environment gives them a degree of curiosity and comfort with digital tools that I think will bring great energy to this project,” Salkin says.

One of the goals for her students is to learn a different definition of the word “social” in social media. “In doing so, I hope they see that new media tools are neither good nor bad on their own,” she says. “It is how they are used that defines their contributions to the world.”


Erica Salkin, assistant professor of communication studies, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4704 or

Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or