Category Archives: Projects
By Stephanie Schwartz, iMedia Class of 2013
Sometimes it seems that capstone gets all the love.
Well, not quite. It certainly seems to get the most press when it comes to talking about the program. But the dirty little secret of second semester is that we have other classes, and they take up a lot of our time.
Only two students among our group of 26 are taking an internship this semester, but even they take two classes outside of capstone. While our fall semester was regimented, our spring semester is made up of options. Essentially, every class outside of our capstone is an elective.
This year, we had five choices: Application Development, Media Management and Economics, Intellectual Property Law, Public Opinion in New Media, Multimedia Storytelling, and the Converge Practicum, which was admission-only. The nine students who secured a spot will be heading to the Converge Southeast Conference in a month.
Under the direction of Brad Berkner, the Converge students have been working on a campaign to raise awareness of the iMedia graduate program to Elon undergraduates. We surveyed undergrads to see how they found out about events on campus, what technologies they used and what they knew of the iMedia program if they had heard about it, as well as interview alums to see what their thoughts were. We took this information and began to brainstorm some ideas that would describe iMedia in an accurate yet compelling way, designing logos and shooting footage for a 30-second clip that will be featured on a one-page website later this semester. We have started presenting workshops to undergrads on topics like basic web design and search engine optimization.
Harlen Makemson’s Multimedia Storytelling class is largely a workshop, where students work on a different open-source tool every few weeks to create short stories. A part of the class is to identify and share other tools, resources, and examples of digital storytelling. There is so much great stuff out there – highlights have included the wedding site of Jessica Hische and Russ Maschmeyer, Coal: A Love Story, Interactive Narratives, and the UNC Digital Story Lab.
We have discovered that there are so many different ways to tell compelling stories, and that each tool has its strengths and weaknesses. Most of the new tools tried in class so far – Zeega, Meograph and Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker – are only a few months old, and are still very buggy, much to our consternation.
Public Opinion in New Media might be a theory class, but Professor Kenn Gaither is all about application. Despite freaking everyone out by having a midterm and a final (!), he tests us on concepts and challenges us to put them into practice. To illustrate social proof, groups of students slowly had to go outside and stare at the flagpole, while others recorded actions of passersby – to see how others would react. He also gave everyone 45 minutes to come up with a strategic campaign for the National Sleep Foundation, and we had an enjoyable discussion on the PBS Frontline special The Persuaders, all about the advertising industry. Within a week of viewing the film, Slate published an article discrediting one of the featured leaders, French marketing executive Clotaire Rapaille. How’s that for relevant? We’ve also had passionate discussions and analysis around coverage of issues in the Middle East and in India. Considering we all barely passed his first-day quiz of basic international issues, we’re all glad to be exposed to such interesting and topical content, making our class that much better.
Intellectual Property Law was an intense half-semester course, where students were given a survey of communications law — copyright, trademark, patent, privacy, fair use and internet piracy. This class was anything but boring — we got to make our own syllabus, and every class offered a different shape configuration of seats. Like Professor Gaither, Brooke Barnett made sure that we could apply our understanding of the laws and apply and interpret them. We had to think about where we stood on issues, and some of us were surprisingly conservative or liberal in how we applied them. Like Public Opinion, this class was discussion-based, but the cases were very interesting and the goal was for students to feel comfortable in understanding how to use content.
Media Management and Economics is co-taught by Connie Book and Jack Stanley, a 45-year executive at Time Warner Cable, now retired. Each session, he goes over current events of the past few days, as we discuss shifting television patterns and greater reliance on mobiles and tablets. The bottom line for us, whether we will be content creators or managers (or both), is that everything comes down to money. That might be obvious, but for many communications majors, it’s worth repeating.
For a good portion of the semester, we will be focusing on one case study: the Google Fiber broadband push in Kansas City. Being iMedia students, we are often so surrounded by technology and live this life so fully that it’s hard for us to sometimes understand that there are people out there who have no interest and see no use for something we consider so necessary: the Internet. Google plans to expand broadband – high speed access – to areas that do not have it, for an affordable price. The company picked Kansas City (both the Missouri and Kansas locations) because they felt it was a real growth opportunity.
And last but not least, students got Google Analytics certified. We are all very excited to put this on our resume, as we know how important metrics are to understanding the role of content and audience to a message, thanks to our professors!
With all the talk of mobile, iMedia would be remiss if it didn’t offer a class on application development. Taught by Brian Walsh, our HMTL and CSS instructor, his Application Development class first made web-based applications — essentially websites designed for mobile phones — and then geolocation apps, where they were able to detect a user’s location, add custom points, and populate the map with nearby businesses and landmarks. We will now be accessing APIs, which means our applications can power the camera on the phone, and have begun working on final project ideas, where everyone will make a very simple app showcasing some aspect of basic data, like pictures and descriptions.
Spring semester is here - just a few weeks removed from an incredible winter term.
In iMedia, January is all about the fly-in projects. These winter trips allow students to build multimedia projects for the public good and showcase the skills they learned in the fall semester. It was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my career.
My teammate Ashley Deese said it best:
The fly-in gave me an opportunity to work with a real world client and create a multimedia project for a client that would not have been able to afford it. Not only will this experience give me the competitive edge needed to stand out as an applicant when I am applying to jobs but it is also satisfying to know that we did something for the public good.
The process started with the draft. The advisors convened in late September to fill their rosters for the four fly-in trips: one in Cuba, one in Portugal and two in Costa Rica.
Each team spent October, November and December preparing for the trip – practicing video interviews, creating a group blog and coding sites in HTML and CSS for class.
In January, we hit the ground running. Each team had about a week to assess their client’s goals and gather the content for the site. Then we had 10 days or so to design and build the site.
Let me tell you – it was not an easy process. Literally, blood, sweat and tears went into these projects.
But it was rewarding once we presented our projects to our friends, family, industry professionals and iMedia alum on Jan. 24.
Here’s a list of the four projects:
Escazú, Costa Rica
Seven students built an interactive website for a community-run nonprofit that aims to save the natural beauty, traditions and culture of the young mountains of Ezcazú, which is adjacent to capital city San José.
Térraba, Costa Rica
Client: Asociación Cultural Indígena Teribe – Teribe Indigenous Cultural Association
Seven students documented the culture and natural sites of the Térraba indigenous group in southwestern Costa Rica. A government-commissioned dam could destroy parts of the land, on which the people have lived for more than 500 years.
Client: Organopónico Vivero Alamar
This cooperative farm on the suburbs of Havana provides food and community services to Cubans. Six students documented what the farmers do and how the food travels from the farm to the table.
Client: Surfrider Foundation
The international Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans and beaches. Six students built a site to showcase the preservation and educational efforts of a chapter in the coastal community of Ericeira, Portugal.
These projects were awesome!
I managed the project on the Costa Rica trip in Térraba, which is an indigenous community in danger of losing part of its land and culture to government-commissioned dam. The Térraba treated us like family during our visit. They showed us all of their sacred sites, fed us delicious food they grew themselves and even took us rafting in their river.
My team worked really hard to create a site that would help preserve the culture of this wonderful community that we came to love.
“The job they did was of very high quality and very important for us. It is the first time someone did something like this here in the Térraba community,” said Jerhy Rivera, vice president of the Asociación Cultural Indígena Teribe (Teribe Indigenous Culture Association).
But my teammates and I hit some speed bumps on our journey. So did other teams.
Future iMedia students, here’s the reality of the situation:
- You can’t prepare for everything. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Your flight will be canceled. You’ll get lost on a mountain for hours. Your client will want something unexpected. One line of code will render your site useless. So be flexible.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. Don’t fall prey to the perils of group projects. Try to be positive when things are falling apart. I’ve discussed this before, but learned so much more during the fly-in.
- Honesty and openness is key. One day, my teammates basically told me that I was acting like a “military taskmaster” as described by Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work. I, being a realist, was focused on the large amount of tasks we had to do and the short amount of the time we had to do them. My teammates wanted me to be to more of a cheerleader instead of a micromanager. Achor wrote: “In short, sacrificing positivity in the name of time management and efficiency actually slows us down.” So after our come-to-Jesus meeting, the team morale shifted for the better.
- Fall classes are super important. Learn everything you can because you’ll probably back up your classmates at one point. The coder will help the videographer. The writer will help the photographer. It happens.
My classmates shared more insights.
1. Clients won’t always respect your expertise. 2. You have to trust your teammates so they trust you. 3. Preparation is the most crucial factor to success.
Don’t set any expectations for the trip because they’ll be blown away no matter what you think of.
Dont’ be afraid to try something different, whether it’s a skill like coding. It was something I wanted to get better at so being the web developer for my group helped me a lot. Trying different food is also fun, too!
1. Working with a group on something that big means a lot of trust and sacrifice. 2. If there are people not doing their jobs, there better be some people willing to pick up the slack or things won’t get done.
by Lindsey Huston, iMedia class of 2012
It seems like yesterday I was putting on my black cap and gown, both nervous and excited for what lay ahead. The ceremony was outside, and the South Carolina humidity both fogged up my brain and clung my commencement robe to my body. That moment was on May 22, 2011, and I was graduating from Wofford College.
One month from today, I’ll be in a similar moment. Although I’m thankful the Elon iMedia graduation ceremony will be inside, I’ll once again be wearing a cap and gown while pondering the future. With this moment quickly approaching, I find myself trying to remember one thing: What did I originally hope to get out of the iMedia experience?
An example of a duo that’s taken the time to experience all that iMedia has to offer are the co-founders of Twin Stripe Magazine. Alison Harshbarger and Katie Williamsen, two of my classmates, published their first issue of the magazine in the fall. The interactive online magazine is seasonal, and it highlights styling, parties, and décor.
This semester, they committed to making their magazine even more interactive. Instead of using a pre-made magazine platform, they listened to iMedia coordinator Brad Berkner’s advice and created their own HTML5 and CSS framework for their spring issue. Katie comments, “The iMedia program gave us the push we needed to take Twin Stripe outside of the box and explore new possibilities. We were doing what was safe and standard, but now we have developed something exciting and different. The possibilities for the future are endless.”
I’ve seen the hard work and creative energy that’s been put into this magazine, and I’m amazed at how much its creators have accomplished on top of our heavy coursework. Twin Stripe is definitely a product of individuals willing to truly experience all that they can as Elon Interactive Media students. I was lucky enough to be asked to edit the magazine’s copy and, in the latest edition, contribute an article on Fiestaware.
To those entering the program this summer, I urge you to commit to your time at Elon and truly experience iMedia. And to my fellow soon-to-be-graduates, good luck during our remaining month!