Oh, for the Love of iMedia

IMG_7673[1]photo[3]I just returned from a wonderful and productive iMedia marketing trip to Boston. Aside from great visits to colleges and universities I connected with two of our first year (’10) graduates who now live and work in Boston.  Laura and Matt Hunter. Yes, they are both Hunters. Not only did they graduate with a master’s in interactive media from Elon but they met, fell in love, and were recently married.

Matt is the Digital Marketing Designer for the Boston Bruins and TD Garden. He designs, develops and manages content for Boston Bruins and TD Garden digital assets, including social media, mobile, email marketing, in-game experience, client renewal campaigns and web sites. Laura works as the Digital Media Producer at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC). They both explained how Elon’s iMedia program contributed to landing their current positions.

Laura told me, “iMedia basically equipped me with all of the skills I needed to land this job.  The program gives the introduction to the Adobe Suite and you are expected to take off with whatever interests you.  Since this job was so new and the Convention Center didn’t quite know what they needed in their ideal candidate, the array of skills that I had from completing the iMedia program was what attracted them the most to me.  From there, I was able to use the resources I was introduced to in the iMedia program to find tutorials, inspiration and enhance my skills even further. Essentially I’m a hybrid between a project manager and a content creator. ”   

And Matt, “Without my iMedia degree I wouldn’t have landed my current job. Prior to enrolling at Elon for the iMedia program, I had little to no experience in anything relating to communications/digital/etc. In one year, the iMedia program provided me the tools and experience for someone in my current field to succeed.The iMedia program provided me the tools and experience I needed to succeed. It’s a program filled with students from different backgrounds and skills all with their own passions and goals, but also with the willingness to collaborate and learn from each other. You will learn from your teachers, classmates, real-life experiences, fly-ins, failures and successes.”

Matt and Laura both love their jobs and I truly believe that is one of the best things in life…loving your job. Laura told me, “The best part of my job is that it’s ever-changing.  The Convention Center hosts conferences that bring so many types of people through its doors:  from coffee baristas, to dental professionals, to tech companies to seafood industry professionals.  The scope of the client base keeps things fresh and new with every project that comes our way.  Additionally, there is a lot of creative freedom to design whatever my heart desires on the huge digital canvases available to me.  It’s a fun opportunity to bring some of my own random ideas to light and have thousands of people see it each day.  It’s been a great experience to be a part of a team that is the pioneer for this type of signage in the industry and to be successful in bringing the industry on-board with this new technology. The potential for growth within my team and the company is huge, which is also a great factor.”

Matt talked about his job as well, “I am a Digital Designer by title but I have had the chance to work on so many other projects at work outside of the typical graphic designer role. I’ve shot and cut videos, designed and developed websites, created t-shirts and posters. This is also what I think is the best part of my job. I get the chance to work on so many different types of projects.
And to tell the truth, getting the chance to go to hockey games, basketball games and concerts is pretty neat too.”

A unique cornerstone of the iMedia program is the strong connection between alumni and current students.  Matt and Laura both had words of wisdom for the class of 2014.
“Although you are getting an amazing degree that will put you ahead of a lot of people out there in the digital media world, the degree alone won’t necessarily get you the job.  Networking and making new connections is and always will be the key to getting in the door to your job.  This field is new and companies are still trying to figure it all out, so walk out there with confidence that you have an array of new and wonderful skills and they will be interested in what you have to offer.”

“I would tell students (specifically students who aren’t sure of what direction they want to go) to learn as much as possible while you are enrolled. While I was a student in the program, I often worried about what specific tool or skill I wanted to hone in on and “master.” Did I want to be a graphic designer? A web developer? A video editor? Copywriter? Animator? In the end, I didn’t focus on one specific aspect or skill while at the iMedia program. I took it all in and tried to learn as much as possible. When I graduated, I was knowledgeable on several aspects of the digital landscape. I felt like I was prepared to take on any position because I had built such a solid foundation at Elon.”

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Amanda Sturgill

The iMedia faculty hold the highest degrees in their fields and have relevant real-world experience. Being a graduate of the program, I wanted to profile the wonderful faculty members who help make the iMedia program so successful.

Dr. Amanda Sturgill fearlessly leads iMedia students into remote areas of Costa Rica each year for fly-in projects and has been working tirelessly to develop a new course on SEO, analytics and social media. Dr. Sturgill holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University and is passionate about teaching people how to make great content. If you are looking to be challenged, I highly recommend one of Dr. Strugill’s classes.

Dr. Amanda Sturgill with the Interactive Media team that built http://terraba.org, at their 2013 graduation

Dr. Amanda Sturgill with the Interactive Media team that built http://terraba.org at their 2013 graduation

How has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
I am a recovering newspaper journalist who has had a strong interest in interactive media since back in graduate school, where I worked as a student researcher in an interactive multimedia lab. I have a strong interest in using media to tell stories where the reader is a part of the story as it unfolds.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
My first multimedia class at Cornell with the amazing Geri Gay had the philosophy that learning, studying and creating are all inextricably related. I think in a skills-based field like communications, it’s important to consider all three, so my classes are always a mix of thinking and doing.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
I like the variety of students that iMedia attracts – many different undergraduate majors and different ages/levels of experience. It’s always interesting getting different people’s points of view.

I’m excited to hear about your new class, SEO, analytics and social media. Can you share a bit about it?
It’s something that I have been working on for almost a year that grew out of things students were hearing as they were interviewing for jobs. Those going the project management and content creation routes were expected to know how to effectively reach audiences and measure the impact of the projects they were creating. There is a robust Internet marketing community in RDU and another in the Triad, and we’ve had great support from both directions in putting together this new class.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
I teach Interactive Project for the Public Good (the Fly In) as well as the new elective. For both, the major skills aren’t particular techniques that are popular today, but rather the ability to analyze communication problems, to identify the emerging technologies that are the best solution and work quickly and creatively in a group to make it happen. I call the Fly In class the “little miracle” because we literally go from wheels up to web site in 3 weeks, but it’s also the kind of experience our students will have throughout their careers.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
I really enjoy keeping up with my graduates, both undergrad and grad students. My former students are doing everything from editing to acting to accounting to building web sites to serving in the military to lobbying Congress to preaching to translating to planning special events to … well, it’s a lot and they live all over the world.

What is your favorite thing about living in North Carolina?
The diversity! The booming NC tech corridor has brought smart people from all over the world to live here.

Thanks so much for sharing your insights, Dr. Strugill!

Who? What? Where? Wow!

by maggie mullikin

As we close out the first semester of our fifth year of the iMedia program, and with a current cohort of 38, we keep a close eye on our alumni from the past four years. Here’s a small taste of where our graduates are working, what they are doing and the cities in which they have landed.

________________

RUBY RED DESIGN STUDIOS | HAPPY COG  | BOSTON BRUINS | THE ARC | ZICO BEVERAGES | SOUTHWOOD MEDIA | SMASHING BOXES | METHOD SAVVY | SPARKS NETWORK | GLEN RAVEN | KING INDUSTRIES | COBALT AUTOMOTIVE MARKETING | DUKE UNIVERSITY | OSP GROUP | GIRL SCOUTS OF AMERICA | NASCAR | THREE SHIPS MEDIA | REASON TV | IMRE | CEREBRAL LOUNGE | THE 7th CHAMBER | ELON UNIVERSITY | THE ARC | PACE COMMUNICATIONS | WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY | NASA | RESPONSE MINE INTERACTIVE | SMITHSONIAN | ESPN | AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS | YODLE | THE SALES FACTORY | TIFFANY & CO. | HATCH EARLY LEARNING | MCCLATCHY INTERACTIVE | ALPHA MARKETING | WCSC-TV RAYCOM MEDIA | GROUPON | MARKIT ON DEMAND | WAKE FOREST BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER | CBS SPORTS | REX HEALTHCARE | WFMY NEWS 2 | GIBBS & SOELL BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS

_________________

INTERACTIVE MARKETING COORDINATOR | social media specialist | digital designer  community coordinator | user experience designer | e-marketing strategist | WEB PRODUCER | search engine marketing analyst | art director | video producer | front end developer | account coordinator | ATHLETICS MULTIMEDIA ASSISTANT | associate creative director | remote broadcast associate | graphic designer | instructional designer INTERACTIVE MEDIA PRODUCER | community manager | marketing communications associate | digital marketing coordinator | SOCIAL MEDIA & WEB MARKETING DIRECTOR instructional media designer | content developer | aftermarket media developer | online marketing manager | INTERNET MANAGING EDITOR

__________________

chapel hill | santa monica | washington | atlanta | boston | charlotte | bolder | seattle | raleigh | norwalk | austin | baltimore | charleston | durham | nashville | oakland | silver spring greensboro | richmond | burlington | wheeling | new york | columbus | daytona beach | winston-salem | cary | charlottesville | myrtle beach | ann arbor | los angeles

A Different Way of Telling Your Story

By Marianne Brigola, Career Advisor for School of Communications

With all the free time available between classes, projects, assignments and getting ready for the Winter Term fly-in trips (!!!), some iMedia students have started thinking about getting ready to apply what they’ve learned in the classes to the next step in their career and preparing for their job search. As you’re updating your resumes to reflect your new experiences + skills, many students are considering telling their story in a different, more creative way.

Resumes are a tool for sharing your professional journey–your experiences, interests, skills + passion.  In the more creative and interactive fields that our iMedia alumni pursue, creative resumes as a means to stand out are becoming increasingly popular. These resumes can take on the form of infographics, websites geared towards targeted companies or interactive, multimedia resumes. Below are a few things to consider as you’re planning out your own creative way to tell your story.

  1. Know your audience. You might be targeting a specific company or a specific industry. You might be targeting a specific job title. If you’re seeking a position in marketing, advertising, etc., a more creative resume tells your story but also demonstrates your skills.
  2. Make a strong visual impact. In traditional resume documents, we talk a lot about readibility, white space, elements that draw the eye. With creative resumes, you have so much more freedom to make that same visual impact with things like color, graphics, maps, charts etc. Be intentional and mindful in what information you include and how you choose to present it.
  3. Keep it simple + easy to read. It’s easy to get caught up in adding your entire life story when you’re not necessarily restricting yourself to any page limit. Whether you’re creating an infographic or a website, the information should be organized, easy to read and easy to navigate. Categories, headings etc, are ways that you can group + organize your information to make it easy for the potential employer to find what they’re looking for.
  4. Keep a traditional Word document version of your resume. Not all employers will accept a more creative resume. If you have a direct contact to submit your materials to, emailing a link to your website or an attachment of your infographic is simple to do. If you need to apply though a company website, many times you’re limited in terms of format and structure–a traditional resume will be needed to supplement your creative document.

Design is an extremely important aspect of creative resumes; but don’t forget to focus on the creating strong content as well. A creative resume is a great way to make a strong, first impression–being intentional + critical of your final product will help ensure that you’re making a positive first impression.

A look into the iMedia classes

Seeing as how last Thursday was the day that students will sign up for their spring classes, what better time to give people a look into the classes we take than now? Often, people ask what exactly iMedia is and what classes you take in the program, so why not answer at least one of those questions. You want a look into the Interactive Media program? Well here is your chance. Let’s take a look at just three of the courses being offered to iMedia students this spring.

Public Opinion Through New Media

Public Opinion through New Media is a course that centers on the relationship between public opinion and communication with an emphasis on persuasion. The course focuses on digital communication and how its myriad elements, from virtual environments to social media, influence publics and vice versa.  Although the course is grounded in theory, it is equally rooted in practice. By the end of the semester, students will be able to identify and explicate terms related to public opinion and have familiarity with key theories and concepts that guide public opinion research.  Students will also understand the role of the media in both forming public opinion and reflecting it.  Finally, students will have a good grasp of the relationship between emerging technologies and public opinion, and an understanding of how new technologies can galvanize publics to organize and coalesce around key issues or topics.

Among topical areas the course will cover are virtual worlds, branding, flash mobs, smart mobs and astroturfing; the power of blogs and microblogs; and the science of polling and how to read polls for hidden meaning. We will also study propaganda and how its symbols of influence are still relevant today.

Application Development

Application Development introduces students to the basic concepts of Xcode, Eclipse, and other app development software.  Students are granted an Apple educational developer license, which allows us to set up phones and tablets for testing (same with android, but you don’t need a license for that).  We’ll build fully-functional Web apps, and create a drawing app in class.  We’ll also explore using Google Maps with custom markers, maps, and geolcoation / geofencing.  Our final project will be a hybrid app, using Phonegap or an alternate framework.  Hybrid apps allow you to access the device’s API (the still/video camera, contacts, accelerometer, notifications, audio playback) and do something with it.  Please note that this is not native app development (i.e. we’re not learning Objective-C), so we won’t be making words with friends.  In other words, this class won’t necessarily help you if you have a killer app idea, it’s intended more for making your first app.

Social Media Analytics

SEO, Social Media and Analytics is a new course designed to give iMedia
students facility with using the measurement tools available on the web to
make strategic decisions about content. We’ll have a combination of theory
and application as we learn the principles of optimizing a site for SEO,
some best practices for planning content to serve both users and search
engine bots and, most importantly, how to keep up in this frantically
rapidly changing field. We’ll be bringing in several guest speakers from
the front lines of content creating and marketing, working with real
clients who need help making their sites the ones that rank and getting
our hands dirty creating content, measuring its receipt and recommending
strategies based on what we learn.

Want more? Then click here for even more class descriptions so you can get a better idea of what to expect from the Interactive Media program.

We’re proposing…capstones!

By Laura Smith

In one week we’ll turn in the proposal for what will most likely the biggest project of our educational careers. Our Capstone project will encompass a subject we’re interested in, married (pun intended) with a specific skill (or skills) we feel strong in that we’ve learned so far. For some this means building a mobile app, for some it will be shooting a documentary. For others it will mean telling a story using graphics and data visualization. Or maybe creating an interactive map to inform local citizens of the community they live in.

We’ll hit the ground running on our capstones the beginning of February, once we’re finished putting together our fly-in projects. We’ll spend the rest of the semester working on them until our showcase on May 21. We already put together the literature review during the first half of the Fall semester in our Theory class with Derek Lackaff.

So what kinds of things are iMedia students planning on producing?

“For my capstone project, I will be creating an interactive fashion closet iPad app which will allow users to virtually keep track of their wardrobe, while also finding inspiration from “following” other users’ wardrobes,” Allie White said. The idea behind her capstone is that fashion bloggers will be able to share their wardrobes online for users to follow, creating a bigger audience for their blog, as well. She also plans on including weekly newsletters sent to users, an interview with the Featured Fashion Blogger of the Week and a  “tour” of their own wardrobe. “Filling the gap between websites like Pinterest, Polyvore, and The Coveteur, this app will allow users to create a more fluid, budget-savvy fashion community,” she said.

Daron Vaught is also tailoring his project to his passion – sports. He is planning on creating an interactive documentary for the web on the “Tobacco Road Rivalry” between the men’s basketball teams at Duke and North Carolina. “The website will contain a video player with added features, such as complementary videos, interviews, and infographics, to supplement the base content,” he said. “I have an interest in sports broadcasting, and given the duel’s mix of national and local appeal, it seemed like a perfect topic with a lot of potential.”

NFL punter speaks with iMedia

Chris Kluwe could very well be today’s perfect “Renaissance man.”

He is arguably best known for his time in the National Football League, where he was a punter for the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings (he holds most of the team’s punting records) and Oakland Raiders. Image

He is the bassist for the band ‘Tripping Icarus.‘ He is an avid video game player – his Twitter avatar is a close-up of a miniature World of Warcraft figurine. Speaking of Twitter, he is an avid user of the social media site; as of this writing, he has 177,619 followers. He is even an accomplished author, thanks to his latest book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies.

But, he thrust himself into the national spotlight when he wrote Maryland politician Emmett Burns defending gay marriage (Warning: there is some choice language in the letter). His letter spread through the Internet like wildfire and earned him spots on numerous talk shows, including Ellen and the Colbert Report.

Mr. Kluwe was nice enough to Skype with the Interactive Media class of 2014 last week, giving them advice on how to handle themselves on social media, dealing with the compliments/backlash of something like his letter to Mr. Burns, gaming, activism and, yes, football.

Among the words of wisdom he gave:

  • Everything that is posted on the Internet stays there forever. Remember that.
  • When using Twitter, read over it at least three times. Once you say something, you cannot take it back.
  • Always stay focused.

In addition, he answered a few questions for the Eye on iMedia blog.

1. How exactly did you get started in social media and what forms of it do you use today?

I first got started with Facebook, mainly to play some online games, but stopped being active when it got too annoying with the constant changes to privacy settings and whatnot. Then I began using Twitter at the urging of some friends, who thought I would be perfect for it. Apparently they were right, I guess. Today I mainly use Twitter.

2. What are your favorite and least favorite parts about social media/the new online community?

Favorite parts are the interactions with people that I would have never otherwise gotten the chance to meet or talk to. Least favorite part is the casual ignorance afforded by anonymity – people take advantage of it far too much to say spiteful things.

3. How has social media changed you, if it has at all?

The main way in which social media has changed me is that when I see something funny/interesting, I now think of sharing it with a bunch of other people.

4. What do you think the future of social media/online interactivity/etc. will look like?

Augmented reality glasses (Google Glass is a transition phase) will allow people to share literal real time experiences with each other. This could potentially be very entertaining.

5. What advice would you give people about their social media use?

Make sure that whatever you put out there is something you’re ok with people seeing for the rest of your life. Nothing on the Internet goes away.

6. Anything else you would like to add?

Social media can be used to impart valuable information about a wide range of topics, or it can be used to post cat pics and bowel movements. How you choose to use it is up to you, but we all affect society with our choices.