About Katie Williamsen

Katie is the web strategist and social media maven behind Katie Williamsen Web & Social Media Consulting, LLC. She helps lady bosses stop feeling overwhelmed so they can make effective changes for their business. Katie earned her master’s degree in interactive media at Elon University. Katie is also the editor of the lifestyle blog Twin Stripe, dedicated to helping fun, fabulous readers create a bright and modern lifestyle — that doesn’t cost a ton. When Katie isn’t strategizing with clients, blogging or working her 8-to-5 hustle, she’s spending time with her husband Chad and their pup Hobbes.

The Best Design and Code Resources

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012

Recently iMedia Professor William Moner shared a list of design and code resources and newsletters the with current students. It inspired me to put together my own list of resources that students past, present and future can refer to. When I was in the program, Google was my best friend when looking for inspiration and code help, but I also had a list of go-to websites and other resources.Below are some of my favorite design and code resources.

Interactive Media Design and Code Resources // Elon iMedia

Design and Code Resources

A Book Apart: 11 different books highlighting current topics in web design and development ranging from web typography to sass for web designers. Each book is around 100 pages and written by masters in their fields – a must have for your library.

Codepen: This website is all about front end
development. Create, test and perfect your code with the in browser code editor or be inspired by other code pen members.

Fast Company: Looking for inspiration? Fast Co. Design shares innovative stories from all over the tech world. If you are a fan of print, they also have a great magazine.

HTML5 Weekly: Looking to learn more about HTML5? This weekly newsletter shares tips, updates and more. Even if you aren’t a developer, it is always nice to know the capabilities of HTML5.

JavaScript Weekly: This weekly newsletter is a round-up of JavaScript news, articles and resources. It’s a great way to stay current in the world of JavaScript.

Web Designer Depot: This blog is a must bookmark for web designers and developers. WDD posts news, tutorials, tools and more. They also have a great newsletter I would recommend subscribing too.

I am just scratching the surface with design and code resources. What are your go to web resources?

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Two iMedia Students Behind First Interactive Book Published by Smithsonian

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012

One of my favorite parts about working with iMedia students is seeing all of the amazing work they do post-graduation. Recently I received an email from 2013 alumna, Ashley Deese sharing some exciting news. Since graduation she has been busy working as a media producer at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Recently, her and 2014 iMedia alumna, Nikki Schell, worked on a team to publish the Smithsonian’s first interactive book for Apple. Ashley was the creative director and Nikki was the interactive producer working to produce Expedition: Insects for the Smithsonian. Ashley was kind enough to answer a few questions about this project.

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1. What do you do for the Smithsonian day-to-day?
My day-to-day at the Smithsonian always changes. I’m involved in everything digital media at the Smithsonian Science Education Center. During my time here I have produced videos, taken photos for textbooks, prepared print books to be published, developed an online game, managed projects from outside studios, maintained our blog, taught classes on digital media, given presentations, utilized my graphic design skills and the list goes on. I am currently working on a lot of new digital projects and strategizing on how to increase our reach worldwide with all of the exciting things we are doing.

Smithsonian eBook with the Team // Twin Stripe

The entire eBook team, Ashley is in the middle wearing pink and Nikki is directly to the right.

2. Wow! You have been busy. How did you convince the Smithsonian to let you and Nikki take on a brand new project?
The mission of the Smithsonian is “the increase and diffusion of knowledge” with a focus on broadening access worldwide. With that being said, an eBook was a very easy choice. Nikki’s role at the Smithsonian was to provide her expertise in producing a project for a global audience to broaden access. She was a natural fit for the project. I have been lucky to work with a supportive senior leadership and a talented team of interns that helped make this project possible.

3. What was your role in the project?
I was the creative director for the project. I made sure that everything we did stayed within the Smithsonian brand regarding art, scientific accuracy, tone of the story line, and the overall messaging. I also provided support to the team and made sure everything was done by our deadlines.

Expedition: Insect // Eye on iMedia Blog

4. What was the biggest challenge you faced working on the project?
This project was very easy since it was a culmination of all of the skills that I obtained from the iMedia program. Since I had a deep understanding of all parts of the production process, it made it very easy to set realistic goals and communicate ideas to everyone involved.

5. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of how hard my team worked to bring this idea to life. The book has been very successful within the Smithsonian and worldwide.

6. Do you have more interactive books planned in the future?
Yes! This is only the beginning of interactive books at the Smithsonian!

Congratulations to Ashley and Nikki on producing the Smithsonian’s first eBook! If you are interested in finding out more about the prjoect, feel free to connect with Ashley via Twitter @AshleyDeese.

Wondering what else you can do with an M.A. in Interactive Media? Checkout other jobs here.

Welcome Class of 2015!

I know this post is a little late, but I wanted the chance to officially welcome the class of 2015.

Just when I thought I was really getting to know the class of 2014, they went an graduated on me. While recruiting last year, I had a chance to get to know a fanatic new crop of iMedia students, class of 2015! I know this post is a little late, but I wanted the chance to officially welcome them.

Before I start talking about iMedia ’15, I want to congratulate the class of 2014 on many successful job hunts. The class has been busy searching for their dream job since graduating in late May. I wanted to share a few examples of job titles, employers and cities students are working in post graduation:

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the laid back  class of 2015 this school year. Last week the program held an ice cream social in their honor. I enjoyed chatting with the students and learning what they were reading and working on.

The members of the class of 2015 come from a variety of backgrounds and majors including psychology, information science and technology, theatre, English, business, environmental studies and of course commutations students. A wide variety of backgrounds makes everyone’s classroom experience richer.

When they are discussing the readings in Prof. Derek Lackaff’s class, Theory and Audience Analysis in an Interactive Age, each student will bring a very different opinion with them, depending on their undergraduate studies. For the record they have been busy reading since they started classes. They have already read Reality Is Broke by Jane McGonigal, Networked by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman and have started Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. This class is surely busy and I can’t wait to share more work that stems from it.

It’s so exciting to see the work that comes from each graduating class – I can’t wait to see what the class of 2015 has in-store for us!

Congratulations, iMedia14!

Last night I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Master of Arts in Interactive Media Capstone Exhibition. The class of 2014 has been working for months to put together unique projects displaying the skills they have mastered in their 10 months in the program. I was extremely impressed and proud of the work I viewed last night. If you couldn’t make it, you can view projects on the website the class created, http://imedia365.us/.

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I have had a chance to get to know the class of 2014 very well. I remember discussing the program and possible outcomes with many of them before they had applied. A handful of students began the program without much experience with interactive media, which you wouldn’t know frobym viewing their capstones. I’m proud to say that I had a hand in the iMedia class of 2014.

The class of 2014’s time at Elon was fast and we will of course miss the class of 2014, but one of the beauties of the iMedia program is the 10 month time frame, tonight the class will graduate and make their way back into the working world, making way for a new crop of students that will be joining us in a just two short months.

To the class of 2014: You have all worked hard and I am proud of the work you have done. I know each of you will be successful in your chosen interactive media pathway. The four classes that have graduated before you look forward to welcoming you with open arms. Congratulations to the Master of Arts in Interactive Media class of 2014!

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Dianne Finch

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.

Professor Dianne Finch is new to Elon this school year, but has already made her mark on the iMedia program, offering a popular spring elective, Data Visualization. Professor Finch holds an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University. She has professional experience in software, programming and journalism. Before coming to Elon, she was manager for New Media and a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. We are happy to have Professor Finch sharing her knowledge at Elon!

iMedia Professor Dianne Finch // Elon Interactive MediaHow has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
My career in the software industry taught me the importance of designing and thinking critically before building. The same principle directly applies to the data visualization class.

In journalism, a good story can’t be written without solid reporting, critical thinking, and the ability to see behind the rhetoric and bias. In data visualization, students mine, clean, filter and analyze data before designing a visual. They should have an idea in mind, but the sketching doesn’t begin until they’ve discovered and vetted the data. The data should have the potential to tell a story – or part of a story. I believe that the same principle applies to many disciplines.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
There were many college classes that influenced my teaching philosophy. At Columbia University, my adviser and “reporting 101” professor pushed me to identify the best possible sources for stories. If a student handed in a story with sources that weren’t solid or authoritative when necessary, the story was rejected on the spot.  It was challenging, but it was an important lesson and so essential to good journalism.  In data visualization, the same principle applies – but the sources are the data.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
iMedia students are enthusiastic, creative and seem to be attracted to challenging endeavors. They bring a range of skills to my class. Some have worked in professional jobs, and others are recent graduates. Many are already adept in video production, motion graphics, Adobe design tools and coding with HTML and JavaScript. It’s apparent that they are taking advantage of everything that iMedia has to offer. I look forward to seeing their final projects and I’m confident that they will incorporate those other skills into their visualization projects.

Can you share a bit about the new course, Data Visualization?
The course covers the fundamentals of data visualization with an initial focus on data mining, cleaning, filtering and merging. We talk about using color, shapes, position, size and other visualization characteristics to apply to data types – such as categories, dates and quantitative numbers. As for tools, we start with Google Fusion and then move to the Google API, Tableau Public and finally the D3 JavaScript Library. We build interactive maps, timelines and other types of charts. When students walk away, the hope is that they will know which tools best suit their individual needs and abilities. Some require coding skills – while others don’t.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
Corporations, news organizations and even politicians are embracing data visualization to communicate important trends and stories that might otherwise be buried in spreadsheets and unavailable to the average person. Small businesses offering data visualization services are popping up around the globe – creating a new sector in the software or communications industry. Elon and other universities are establishing courses, and I’ve heard about K12 schools that are teaching children how to display data in the US and the UK. The big data and open data movements obviously contribute to the demand for skills in this area. As those movements gain momentum, data visualization should continue to evolve and adjust.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
I lived in Japan and traveled throughout Asia. I love the outdoors and lived in Alaska as a child. My husband, Brian, is from England. Thanks to Brian’s son, we have three adorable grandchildren. I’ve travelled to many countries, and must see many more.

I know you just moved to North Carolina, what is your favorite thing about living here so far?
The weather. Watching flowers break ground so early in spring. Again, the weather.

Thanks to Professor Finch for sharing more about herself. I hope spring weather is here to stay soon!

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!

Faculty Spotlight: Professor William Moner

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.

Professor William Moner is new to the iMedia program this fall. He completed his B.S. and M.S. at Duquesne University. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to iMedia, he taught web and mobile app design courses at Texas State University and digital media at the University of Texas at Austin. This fall, Professor Moner has been teaching Producing Interactive Media and getting to know Elon University. Learn more about Producing Interactive Media from current iMedia student, Laura Smith.

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How has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
I’ve been obsessed with the web ever since I created my first web page back in the early 1990s. This medium has grown immensely since its inception and brings together nearly all forms of media and encourages user interaction and multimedia experiences. I began my career in health care information systems just as the web was starting to be utilized by businesses and organizations to organize and link information, but as I completed my graduate work in multimedia technology I wanted to be part of the design and creative process. After spending several years in health care information technology, I began teaching design at the college level in 2005. The first course I taught was a Photoshop/digital imaging course and I was hooked. Since 2005, I’ve been teaching courses in interactive media, web design, information design, and new media theory. The creativity of students and their desire to use technology challenges me to think with them about new ways to design for the web using imaging, web scripting, media production and interactive principles. I’m astounded by new opportunities that have emerged for information sharing, storytelling, and interactive experiences that utilize geospatial positioning, real-time communications, mobile devices, centralized data systems, and other technologies. In many ways, I feel as though we’re all just getting started.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
The courses that stuck with me from my doctoral work are courses where technology is situated as a product of social, cultural, political, and economic processes. With the growth of any new technology, we tend to get swept up into the hype and promise of the revolutionary aspects of the machines. This happened with the printing press, the telegraph, radio, television, and the Internet. My own thinking about technology has been shaped by professors who strip away the veneer of marketing hype, sound bites and techno-utopianism and treat technology as a function of the desire of humans to connect to one another in meaningful ways, the drive to share knowledge and experiences, and the role of political and economic actors in the shaping of technological systems. In my teaching, I strive to explore both the potentials of new technologies and the socioeconomic factors intertwined with new development.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
I love their enthusiasm and willingness to take on new challenges. In this year’s group, we have 38 students who have such diverse backgrounds and objectives. Some of the students will become great storytellers. Others will become media strategists. Still others will become web developers with their hands deep into the technology. I thoroughly enjoy being part of the process that grants students the opportunities and latitude to explore their interests and meet their career goals.

What is your favorite topic to teach iMedia students?
I have not yet taught the graduate capstone course, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will enjoy teaching that course the most. I’ll have the chance to be their art director and coach as they work toward their own culminating project. Until then, I’m most enthusiastic about teaching web development, Javascript and web scripting.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
My crystal ball is in the shop! HTML, CSS, and Javascript have been future-proof for nearly 20 years, and as long as the web continues to be the information and entertainment platform of choice, the languages will continue to be the core foundation of all client-side interactive experiences. I also try to emphasize data exchange and technologies that permit open source development and open culture, and I see a huge future in storytelling based on robust data interchange at all levels of commerce, government, health care, and particularly the humanities and liberal arts.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
I used to be the lead guitarist of 1) a metal band (1999 – 2002) and 2) a folk band (2002 – 2003) while in Pittsburgh. And I used to be the person to ask if a song came on the radio that no one could identify. Sadly, I’ve been replaced by the Shazam app!

I know you just moved to North Carolina, what is your favorite thing about living here so far?
The change of seasons! I haven’t experienced a legitimate autumn for a long time. I’m from Pittsburgh, but I moved to Austin in 2009. In Austin, the “fall” lasts for about two weeks in late November or early December. The idea of an eternal summer sounds much better than the reality of 100º+ temperatures for almost 1/3 of the year. So, I’m enjoying the milder climate and the cool, crisp mornings and evenings. It’s nice to be back on the east coast. Elon has a beautiful campus, and I’m happy to be here.

Welcome to Elon, Professor Moner!