About Megan McGowan

Megan is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who spent two years in Kyrgyzstan. In her free time you can find Megan trying to replicate Pinterest-worthy recipes or planning her next adventure abroad. She is excited to expand her creative talents and enhance her knowledge of interactive media.

Looking Back at Fly-Ins

I’m going to take us back in time a bit. Two months ago, I was living in a world of coding. I would wake up in the morning convinced I had solved the problem with my header in my dreams and I would go to sleep counting divs and rows. This was winter term. This was the fly-in project.

The fly-in project consist of two different experiences. During the first 7 to 10 days on winter term, in groups of 6 or 7, we flew out to a foreign country to work with a local business or non-profit. We spent those days getting to know the people, learn about the culture, and gather all of the information and content we would need to build a fully-functioning website. The final two and a half weeks were spent editing, refining ideas, and building the final product.

I traveled to the Dominican Republic, where my group and I worked with Hogar de los Ancianos and Centro de Salud Club de Leones. The facility provides low cost medical care and free nursing home facilities for the underprivileged in the town of Cotuí. We spent our time interviewing the staff, photographing the facilities, and brainstorming ways to bring the culture of Cotuí into their website. We spent an amazing week in the Dominican Republic and topped in off with an excursion to 27 Charcos (waterfalls).

Our group spent a day settling back in before jumping into development. We spent the next two and a half weeks, including most of the weekends, working with all of the skills we developed during the fall semester. We each had our individual roles but we came together twice a day to check progress, critique media, and check off task on our burn down list.

It was our first taste of what the real world would be like. Working with a client was a new experience for many of us and it came with its own set of challenges that we learned to work with. For the first time in the program, we weren’t designing for ourselves. We had to find the layout, aesthetics, and content that met our client’s needs and their satisfaction. Monique Lewis, my team’s graphic designer, came up with nearly 50 different logos before our team came to agreement, only to have the client ask for something else completely. I placed quotes found from within the nursing home throughout our website only to learn that our translation was incorrect. The time frame also presented a set of challenges where we had to walk the line between getting the project done and satisfying the client. For many of the groups, we were still making changes after the final presentation.

logo

The entire winter term was a unique and challenging experience. From the actual fly-in to the weeks of development and production back at Elon, I learned so much about myself as a web developer and how I would work in the real world. Everyone in the program stretched and tested our skills and grew within our selected fields. Now, as we prepare for the job search and interviews, we all have an experience to talk about and share with employers the benefits of our real world experience.

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Create-A-Thon 2014

I love learning.  If I could make a life out of studying I would take on every degree out there that doesn’t involve extensive math skills.  While my love for the classroom is fierce I realize its limitations in providing real life experience.  Last Thursday, Anna Kim, Monique Lewis, and I partnered with iMedia graduates, Renée Robinson and Lou Tufillaro IV, at Sales Factory + Woodbine for Create-A-Thon 2014.

Create-A-Thon written in Legos

Sales Factory + Woodbine uses their Lego wall to kick off Create-A-Thon

Create-A-Thon is a 24-hour marketing marathon held throughout the United States and Canada that provides local nonprofits with marketing strategies and creative materials as part of Pro Bono Week.  This year the event was held on October 23rd through October 24th.  Sales Factory + Woodbine aided 30 nonprofits over the 24-hour period with the help of 47 volunteers.  For Anna, Monique, and myself the event was a way to give back to the community while testing our skills in a real world experience.

Anna worked with NC Dance Project, a nonprofit that works to provide affordable, high quality dance lessons to promote modern dance throughout North Carolina.  She worked with the organization to design a brochure that explained the organization and provided details about their spring schedule.  “It was interesting because I didn’t have a lot of control over the information going into the project but it was eye-opening and I learned a lot”.  One of the most useful skills Anna learned was how to open multiple art boards in Adobe Illustrator.

Anna Kim, Megan McGowan, and Monique Lewis iMedia '15 students at Create-A-Thon

Anna Kim, Megan McGowan, and Monique Lewis iMedia ’15 students at Create-A-Thon

Monique partnered with Mary’s House in Greensboro, which provides housing and life skills training for women recovering from substance abuse.  “I loved the environment of the office.  Even though it was really fast-paced and there was a lot of pressure, I had a lot of fun”.  She redesigned a informational brochure, combined two of the organization’s former logos, and created a new letterhead for Mary’s House.  “It was a real-life experience and it made me love my career choice even more”.

I worked with two organizations, HandyCapable and Seven Homes.  HandyCapable is a nonprofit that provides developmentally disabled adults with meaningful work in a nurturing environment.  For Create-A-Thon I created a tri-fold newsletter to inform donors about what the network has accomplished in the last year.  Seven Homes is a foster care and adoption agency in Winston-Salem and for their organization I designed a two-sided flyer and promotional folder for their new adoption profile network.  Working with a client in such a fast-paced environment was eye-opening and I’m still reeling over the multiple Illustrator artboards.

Table full of promotional media

All of the creative media printed and folded.

Anna, Monique, and I agree that the experience opened our eyes to what life will be like after graduating next May.  We learned so much from our clients and everyone at Sales Factory + Woodbine and we can’t thank them enough for inviting us and helping us grow.  I encourage everyone to take a chance outside the classroom and put your skills to use.  I look forward to attending more events like Create-A-Thon and pairing my classroom knowledge with real-world application.

Fast Forward Fall

Well, we’ve done it. We’ve survived the first month of iMedia and I’m not sure I have the words to explain what the experience has been like so far. Here are some that come close: exciting, invigorating, exhausting, frustrating, eye opening, educational, mind-blowing, and so many more. I didn’t realize how much work could be done in one month. We’ve put together websites, designed alien typefaces, written literature reviews, redesigned remote controls, and started up the mountain that is JavaScript. Here’s a more in-depth look at what the fall has entailed so far.

Theory and Audience Analysis

Theory and Audience Analysis is the intellectual look at interactive communications. Students study books, articles, and videos related to interactive media and the shifting technological landscape. In class, students analyze the literature and offer their own opinions of the future of interactive communications.

This class also begins the capstone process. All of us chose a topic, related in some way to interactive communications, which interest us and developed a literature review over the seven weeks. The students review and analyze a body of research related to their topic and offer new outlooks into their respective fields.

Visual Aesthetics

alien typeface

Alien typeface designed by Maria Tran

It is too simple to call this a digital art class. We’ve gone far past creating good design and moved towards understanding how design works within a context to make the finished product great. We’ve studied how to integrate art, aesthetics, information, and design to create a seamless final product. Building on the skills we developed during bootcamp, we’ve worked on projects to help us advance our skills. Students have designed mash up fonts, created alien typefaces, produced a self-portrait, and currently students are working in pairs to create an info graphic.

Interactive Media Strategies

In Interactive Media Strategies, we study new media technologies and how they influence interface design, user experience, and production perspectives. We have been studying a wide variety of interfaces and exploring new technologies to understand how users interact with technology. We also read new literature related to changes in the field of interactive design. To show our understanding of the information we’ve completed in class critiques of existing media and created a redesign of a remote control based on our user analysis.

Producing Interactive Media

In this class, students learn how to work with the software and technologies needed to produce interactive media. We dived right into JavaScript, using online tutorials and in-class activities to get a baseline understanding of what JavaScript looks like and how it works. Now, we are moving in jQuery and animation to realize how this technology can be used within websites to move beyond static design. To cover a wider view of technologies, each week, students give a presentation on different software and technologies that are changing the media landscape.

Interactive Media and Design

Resume Project designed by Ashley Pugh

Resume Project designed by Ashley Pugh

Interactive Media and Design is web development and coding. This class takes a difficult subject matter and through in-class tutorials, at home assignments, and trial and error makes all of us into web designers. We have all come a long way in the past month. Two weeks ago, we turned in online resumes to introduce us to new layouts and to get us thinking about how to develop our personal brand. Right now, we are working our way through responsive designs and media queries making sure that we’re all going to be web design gurus.

Shaping Up With Boot Camp

I’ve got my lunch bag packed, my shoes tied tight, I hope I get some sleep tonight!

The class of iMedia 2015

The class of iMedia 2015

iMedia 2015 has officially begun. Already we are immersing ourselves in reading, research, reading, blogging, coding, and did I mention reading? With just ten-months to master the realm of interactive media we’ve hit the ground running.

This year’s program consists of 32 students from many different backgrounds. Some students have come directly from their undergraduate studies in communications, a few students are focusing on forging a different career path, and all of us are looking to add new skills to our repertoire. To help prepare us for the iMedia program we completed a three-week boot camp in the beginning of August introducing us to the technology we’ll be using in the months to come.

My final photoshop project.  I can't wait to make this into a live website!

My final photoshop project. I can’t wait to make this into a live website!

Professor Phillip Motley served as our digital imaging guru. He instructed us in our crash course of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects. Even students who has never worked with the programs before produced posters, website mockups, and animated typography videos.

In the second week, my group and I moved on to HTML and CSS with Professor Brian Walsh. Even with our heads spinning with new terms like border padding and div and floats we all managed to replicate a page from Elon’s website with code alone. Pretty impressive.

In my final week, I moved onto video editing with Professor Bryan Baker. Armed with a Canon 70D and tripod we set out to record campus is a series of still and moving shots. During the week we produced a one-minute marketing clip for Elon and a short ‘about me’ video to help introduce ourselves to our fellow classmates.

Final site for the Phoenix Scene Scouts

Final site for the Phoenix Scene Scouts

Boot camp finished with a group project. Over the course of one week our groups built a website and produced a video for a local organization, business product, or concept. It was amazing to view the final results and see how far everyone has come in their media skills.

Now we are back in the classroom and moving at full speed. I can’t wait to expand on the skills I’ve learned in boot camp and can’t imagine how much we all will have developed by the end of the semester.

Good luck to everyone!