The Final Stretch of Fall

It’s Thanksgiving Break, which is supposed to be a break…right? A week full of relaxation, and time spend with family and friends…as some would like to think. As interactive media graduate students, that is not always the case. This break brings a sense of mixed feelings. Part of me cannot believe that it is already the end of November, and at the same time I glance down at my planner and think about how many assignments are due in the few short weeks before the semester ends – time is flying by and, at the same time, is creeping by slowly. In this time of thanks, there is so much that I am thankful for, especially when it comes to Elon’s iMedia Program

I am thankful for coffee. 

Starting off wi5742bf6909516d1017d8513faaf755a5th a lighter note, any graduate student that you talk to, would probably say that without coffee there is no way that could survive. Whenever I began the iMedia program, I was not a coffee drinker – it did not appeal to me in any way. Over the past few months, caffeine has become a necessity to get through the day.  I never thought I would look forward to drinking a drink as much as I look forward to drinking that cup of delicious coffee – that boost of caffeine always hits the spot!

I am thankful for incredible, extracurricular activities that Elon and iMedia provide us with.

In what started as a class assignment on creating an unique idea to pitch to our peers, turned into a pitch we submitted to Elon’s Innovation Challenge. At the end of October, Bridget Sheffler, Carmen Erdie and I, submitted our proposal for our innovative mobile app, Chronic Control. It is an unique app that is targeted for veterans suffering from chronic pain, and assist them in visually showing doctors where there pain is located. In early November, we were selected as a finalist to pitch our proposal to a panel of entrepreneurs during Elon’s Annual Innovation Challenge. In an outcome we did not expect, we placed 3rd out of all of the finalists!

I am thankful for our fly-in trip, and the opportunity to work with nonprofits abroad.

Since the beginning of the year, we have heard about the fly-in and what all this trip entails. Then, it seemed as if it was so far away. Now, we have a little over a month until we leave! Over the past few weeks, we have been drafted to specific trips, assigned our jobs and have began getting ready for an opportunity of a lifetime. Work for the fly-in is in full-swing, team meetings and client meetings are being held regularly, and drafts of deliverables are beginning to be created!

I am thankful for opportunities to expand our skill set. 

Part of the fly-in experience is being able to use the latest technology for a real-world client, while creating deliverables for each client. Training sessions are being held to teach each of us how to use all of the awesome gadgets that Elon University has provided for us while we are abroad. One example would be drones. Drones are awesome and can shoot some of the coolest videos, but I had never had the opportunity to use one until I became apart of the iMedia program. I am looking forward to putting my skills into use while I am in the DR!

14732392_1193088010757415_3395815037061201379_nI am thankful for spring semester and the classes we can take.

Life after graduation, is not the thoughts that many of us want in our heads yet. But, we recently had to register for spring semester classes. With that, comes thinking about what will life be like after graduation. What do we want to do? What direction do we want to take? Our spring semester is geared around the future – every class, every project, everything. What we choose should be based on what we are looking to do for our capstone and will assist us in gearing up for that next step after we turn the tassel. Getting to choose classes that match your interest make classes fun, right? I sure think so!

Surprisingly, I am thankful for research and for being pushed outside of my comfort zone.

Many of us have applied for and have been accepted to present our proposed research paper at the 12th Annual Global Communication Association Conference, in April of 2017 in Greensboro – the first time this global conference has ever been held in the United States! What does that mean? Over the next few weeks, we will be completing the research we proposed to submit our final research paper that we will be presenting at the conference!

I am thankful for iMedia, and #iMedia17.

Whenever I started the iMedia program, I could have never imagined how this program would transform me – personally and professionally. Through this program I have been challenged mentally, in ways I have never been challenged before. I have also been given opportunities that otherwise I would never have had. The friendships I have made, I never expected. From the first day of our summer seminar, friendships were already being created that will last long after graduation. Coming into this program, I thought that we would be too busy to even think about friends and little did I know that the friendships I would make would be ones that could last a lifetime.

As far away as graduation seems, we all know that it is just around the corner. Realizing how little time we have left together as graduate students, and how much we have to learn – grabbing the bull by the horns and continuing to dive in is the only choice we have, if we want to get the most out of this program and from each other!

#iMedia17, look at how far we have come and what all we have accomplished! I cannot wait to see what all we accomplish in the coming months!

Take Advice to Heart and Look to the Future

By Lindsey Huston, iMedia class of 2012

My classmates and I are in week eleven of fall semester and, although my mind is cluttered with all I have left to do in the semester, I find myself even more excited about all that’s ahead in the iMedia program. Outside of my course work this semester, I’ve had a gamut of other things to plan and contemplate. Dr. Copeland spoke recently about next semester courses. I’m looking forward to my fly-in to Reykjavik, Iceland, where seven classmates and I will work with The Citizens Foundation during the month of January. Also, several area professionals have take the time to give me career advice, reminding me of my passions and goals I’m working towards.

Although it’s important for my classmates and I to submerge ourselves in our course work for the year that we’re iMedia students, it’s also important to remember the relevance our new skills will have in our future careers. This is why I’m thankful for the insight I’ve received from area professionals during this semester, because seeing their passion has driven me to find my own niche in the field of interactive media.

 

Bettina Johnson

As Maggie mentioned in her blog two weeks ago, Bettina Johnson graduated from the iMedia program in May of 2011. She happily found a place at Pace Communications in Greensboro the summer after graduation, working as an interactive content editor and online community manager. I was lucky enough to discuss her time as an iMedia student and her career during an informational meeting we had back in September. Bettina initially interested me, because her undergraduate degree, from Elon, was in journalism. As someone interested in writing, I was curious as to how Bettina transitioned her skills from traditional journalism to working in the field of Interactive Media.

After working for print news, at the Gaston Gazette in Charlotte, and in web development, at Newfangled Web Factory in Carrboro, Bettina decided to add to her digital skills by returning to Elon to get her MA in Interactive Media. I was struck by Bettina’s openness and enthusiasm for her career. She shared, “It’s great to have a job you enjoy and put all your energy into!” Bettina took advantage of her time as an iMedia student, and it’s inspiring to see someone with similar interests as me doing what they love.

 

Ryan Helmstetler

I met with Ryan Helmstetler in October. When Ryan was an undergrad, he had plans of becoming an accountant. He realized his passions fell elsewhere, however, and he is now an account executive for Texas Pete at The Sales Factory in Greensboro. Ryan loves his job as an account executive, because it enables him to “touch every piece” of the Sale Factory’s relationship with Texas Pete and he is able to travel. Curious about advertisement agency life, I was thankful to hear a perspective from work at a smaller agency.

The atmosphere at the Sales Factory was both lively and intimate, and it was beneficial to hear the pros and cons of working for small and large agencies. Ryan also discussed social media strategy, and specifically how beneficial Facebook is to Texas Pete. In 2009 the Sales Factory launched a Facebook campaign with 10,000 samples distributed through Facebook engagement ads and the Texas Pete Facebook page. The Sales Factory projected the samples to be distributed over four weeks, but the campaign gained so much popularity the samples were gone in six days. Ryan emphasized, “You can’t generate sales without research.” It is clear to me that the Texas Pete Facebook campaign was well researched, and that Ryan is passionate about his job. Interested in advertising, I am thankful to have received insight into the world of an advertising agency.

  

Jessica Byerly

Two weeks at ago, Jessica Byerly discussed with me all she does at G-Force Marketing Solutions in Greensboro. Jessica is a digital marketing strategist who considers herself somewhat of an anomaly. Although she is the often viewed as an IT resource at G-Force, she happily lives on a farm with her husband and child and is passionate about both farm animals and Twitter. I was pleasantly surprised to get the chance to hear from someone living out multiple passions, both in lifestyle and career, and I got to see first hand the time she puts into account analytics.

Similar to my interest in Bettina’s journalism past, I was curious when listening to Jessica’s story because she transitioned from a career in traditional, print journalism into a career in digital technology and analytics. Jessica loves her job, and is persistent in keeping up with her field that is “constantly changing”. She describes her main responsibility at G-Force as dealing with numbers, and she showed me the pages and pages of reports she produces to confirm the best return of investment for clients, in regards to how G-Force is marketing their brand. Jessica told me, “There has not been one morning I have woken up and not been excited to come into work at G-Force.” This is the kind of passion I’m looking for in a career, and it has been refreshing to hear from so many individuals passionate about their careers in interactive media.

 

As we are now in November, my classmates and I look ahead to final semester projects, papers, etc. However, it’s important to look even further ahead. Although we should live consciously in the moment, in order to soak in as much as we can from iMedia, I also can’t help but to have hope for a future career, using my skills from iMedia, that is as fulfilling as the careers of the professionals I’ve received insight from during this past semester.

Instructional Designers at American Express

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to meet with Lizzette Bahamon, in the Instructional Design office of the American Express, Greensboro, NC headquarters. Though I know that interactive media and communications is “everywhere”, I was really struck by how it is used at American Express (and I felt really silly that I had not realized it before). Now I know that American Express has a staff of tens of thousands all over the world, and I know that they need to be constantly trained on various programs, initiatives, updated laws and regulations, etc….but I never thought about how they are trained. How do you train thousands of staff, all over the world, with their own deadlines and unique schedules? And how is this training done efficiently? How is the training cost-effective yet still engaging to the viewer/learner? Two words: Instructional Design.

Here is how Wikipedia defines instructional design:

Instructional Design (also called Instructional Systems Design (ISD)) is the practice of maximizing the effectiveness, efficiency and appeal of instruction and other learning experiences. The process consists broadly of determining the current state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some “intervention” to assist in the transition. Ideally the process is informed by pedagogically and andragogically (adult learning) tested theories of learning and may take place in student-only, teacher-led or community-based settings. The outcome of this instruction may be directly observable and scientifically measured or completely hidden and assumed.

Imagine the importance of interactive media and design when considering teaching tens of thousands all over the world? How do you measure if the learning has actually occured?

Below is the job description of a  instructional graphic designer (provided to me by Lizzette):

Responsibilities
The Graphic Designer will work with a team of Instructional Designers to develop attractive, effective multimedia learning interventions for the American Express Learning Network.

• Play a critical role in the conception and implementation of a creative vision for an instructional design organization

• Develop creative elements, templates, and design standards for web and print based adult learning materials

• Collaborate with an Instructional Design team through all stages of creative development which includes concept, design, prototype, and implementation

• Provide deliverables in a timely manner according to project schedules

• Develop and maintain orderly and complete files for all projects within existing systems
Department Name AELN

Required Qualifications • 4-year design related degree or equivalent experience
• 3 years experience as a graphic designer in a professional setting
• Solid understanding of design principles including color theory, layout, and the communication of complex data via visual objects
• Expertise with best practices and principles for designing instructional media
• Experience with interpreting guidelines from a visual identity system (VIS) and applying American Express global branding requirements to a variety of print and web-based publications in a creative and attractive manner
• Possess a solid understanding of web usability principles, user interface best practices, and emerging trends in UI design.
• Expertise with design tools and systems including Articulate, Captivate, Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, CSS, XML, HTML, Javascript, and others
• Ability to positively influence others and build consensus with large groups; strong interpersonal skills; ability to work well with others and contribute to a positive environment.
• Able to work on multiple, large scale projects simultaneously
• Experience with both web-based and print design
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Preferred Qualifications
• Familiarity with instructional design and adult learning methodologies
• Experience developing e-learning multimedia solutions for SCORM compliance
• Understanding of web usability principles, user interface best practices, and emerging trends as they relate specifically to e-Learning a plus.

This type of career combines design, multimedia, psychology and education/instruction. Just another of many iMedia jobs.

Click here for more information on instructional design (including professional associations).

Students have the chance for cash and a job? Sign me up!

Last spring I found a new site that is still in the developing stages, but has a great concept and potential to go big.GrouperEye

GrouperEye.com is a platform for collecting student-user generated content. Companies will submit a brief typically highlighting public relations, marketing or advertising challenges, and students can respond back. Generally this requires the students to submit a proposal which can range from a PowerPoint to wireframes of a Web site.

The best part? If you win you get $100 and a chance to meet with the company for intern or job opportunities. This is clearly a capable pathway to winning an honor, getting experience, and networking at the same time. It also shows how interactive media is bringing organizations and companies closer with its audience and customers. Companies featured thus far are generally smaller brands, but popular names such as Under Armour are tapping into GrouperEye’s base.

Personally, I think this is a great way for companies to gain perspective from consumers as well as provide a filtering process for new hires. While someone may have an impressive resume and portfolio, having done quality work for a company before hiring would probably have an edge.

Tapping into the ideas of college students can introduce new technologies and processes into a company that’s generally too busy to research what’s new in the digital age. Just from being in the MA in Interactive Media program at Elon, I have already learned so many more possibilities of what can be done with technology. It’s great that GrouperEye has seen this potential market and is willing to bridge the gap between the collegiate and professional.

Interactive Media & the Future

I discovered the  Internet Marketing for Travel and Tourism blog while doing some research on QR codes, and found this great post on the future of interactive media. Paul Otellini, of Intel, gives an incredible presentation during the 2008 Web2Summit in San Francisco. His two major talking points are “professional networking” and “personal internet”. Professional networking, or  enterprise social networking, addresses social, security, management and reliability needs of business. Personal internet is the utilization of online tools for whatever the user needs…on demand.  Otellini, stresses how important it is for media innovators to understand the challenges of business, and the opportunities for creating solutions utilizing new technology.

Opportunities in Interactive Media

I wanted to share two articles that were forwarded to me from Elon faculty (thanks Randy and Janna!) illustrating how interactive media is being used to educate, advocate and connect in educational and business environments.

The first is an article highlighting the winners of this year’s Digital Media & Learning Competition, “which is a part of MacArthur’s $50 million digital media and learning initiative designed to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people play, learn, socialize and participate in civic life”. Winners include:  Digital Ocean: Sampling the Sea, engaging 200 middle and high school classes around the world in analyzing and sharing information about the world’s declining fish population and its implications on humans; Talkers and Doers, a platform in which at-risk teens learn about entrepreneurship through games that incorporate real world learning, service, opportunities, and mentors; and Networked Newsroom,  an online participatory news platform where high school and college students can post story ideas, leads, photos, videos and other information directly from their computers or mobile phones.

The second article, Who’s getting hired in Tech? Q1 Numbers from ReadWriteWeb, reflects the leading sectors (hiring-wise) so far this year. First place goes to software/IT at 25%, followed by social media/social networking at 15%.

Profile: Beaker (Business & Science)

Beaker is a leading provider of online communities for professionals and executives managing a career within the life sciences industry. Beaker’s website serves as an online destination for professionals and executives seeking to enhance and better manage the advancement of their career within the life sciences industry.

Jeffrey Clark was kind enough to answer a few questions for me regarding his professional background and how Beaker uses interactive media:

What are some of your past positions and experience in this field?

Most of our team comes from a background in recruiting in the life sciences industry, specifically executive search. While we leverage a technology platform at Beaker, we are a recruiting company first.

What was your major in college/educational background?

Political Science with a focus on International Relations

How did you get your start in this industry?

Most of us began as researchers & recruiters in the executive search industry, identifying & recruiting candidates to top level positions across the life sciences industry. At some point, we decided we could serve the industry better through a  scalable technology platform that catered to the leading employers and the strongest candidates withing the life sciences industry.

What is your definition of “interactive media”?

Good question. For us, it’s about engaged users at some level beyond simple “spectators”. Whether they vote in a poll, comment on a blog, or create their own discussion topic, they are encouraged to participate with Beaker beyond simply viewing our content and media. And, as our platform evolves, we will continually seek out creative ways to spur that interaction amongst our users, not as a content media provider but as a vertically oriented community of professionals.

What technology (e.g. Flash, blogs, Final Cut) is utilized most to facilitate the interactive needs of your clients?

All of the above. We leverage Flash & Flash-type presentation technology called Flypaper to “tell our client’s story” to potential candidates. We use Final Cut Pro to piece together our weekly video webcast for the industry. We publish a multimedia, WordPress-based daily blog to keep our audience connected to what’s ongoing across the industry.

What are some of the job roles within your company (e.g. project manager, designer)?

Project Manager, Customer Support, Sales, Marketing, Web Content Developer

What types of skills and experiences do you look for in new hires?

Raw technical ability and the ability to self-manage. As a growing company, we need responsible, creative, entrepreneurial folks who can take ownership of a deliverable and bring it to reality.

Why is it important for companies/organizations to utilize interactive media?

It’s not about publishing. It’s about stirring a conversation, engaging an audience, and using compelling (and available) technologies in a more effective way than ever before.

What are some interactive media trends you see on the horizon within your industry?

An explosion of the new platforms that until now have been reserved for early adopters: Facebook, Twitter, blog platforms and online video.

What resources do you use to stay up on interactive media trends?

Not magazines! If you want to find the best thinking about online strategy, you’ll find it (surprise) online.

What advice would you give someone planning to pursue a career in interactive media?

Get involved. You need not and try to master every new communication platform. In fact, to do so would be overkill. Yet, be familiar with each, how they work, and start to dream about how they can be applied to drive a more efficient and productive outcome in everyday life or in the business world.