Category Archives: Resources
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.
by Brad Berkner – Coordinator of Interactive Media Projects
I created a series of Friday Workshops that began in 2009 and continue to evolve today. Each Friday at 2pm, we begin with a lesson followed by a critique session and finally a video screening of relevant topics surrounding design, interactive media and advertising. If Halloween cult classics Shaun of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead could be considered relevant then, yes, they are all relevant topics. The three-part workshop (lesson / critique / viewing) is less systematic and more fluid.
The lesson is always the centerpiece often filled with questions and thoughtful discussion. There is a relaxed atmosphere among the 20+ students. Topics may include HTML5 or jQuery for those interested in design and development. Content Strategy and Getting Paid, for freelance or contract work, are concepts everyone can get behind. Seriously, who doesn’t want to get paid? Often there are guest speakers and demonstrations.
Recently we had designer, developer, conference organizer and interactive extraordinaire, Val Head, video chat with the class about “Designing Motion” http://www.valhead.com/ Her presentation covered the intricacies of Star Wars http://starwars.com/ and the oddities of expectations. The oddities felt something like when you’re in a car holding the map and telling your dad to go left but he still goes right. Yes, unfortunately there are websites like that and thanks to Val we now know this queasy feeling exists online. (ask me for the site… go ahead) Coming in November we ramp up for the winter term, COM. 570 Interactive Project for the Public Good, where students study abroad in Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Iceland. We have workshops centered on documentary video production and content management systems (CMS). This November we are excited to chat with Happy Cog http://happycog.com/ Designer, Yesenia Perez-Cruz and Developer, Allison Wagner about “Designing for CMSs”.
Critique sessions follow lessons and provide a fantastic opportunity for students to share their work and gain valuable feedback on projects. The critiques shed new light on solutions they may have missed or open completely new ideas. The feedback and engaged atmosphere is a growing favorite among the students. They feed off the energy, like the 10,000 Volt Ghost, pushing each other and inspiring new creations.
“Watch While You Work” is the name of the video screening portion of the workshop. This is a time when students can relax and discuss topics they wanted to share or take a closer look at a friends work or just watch the video. It is a nice way to unwind after a long week.
The level of student engagement in the workshops, interest in the field and in supporting each other continues to amaze. Interactive media is built solely with the energy and foresight of the people who work within it.