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.

Helpful Homecoming Advice

By Henry Kean iMedia Class of 2015

After a much needed fall break and a shortened week of classes, the iMedia students got to experience our first homecoming as graduate students and meet with some of our predecessors from years past. On Friday we had a visit from Conor Britain, a graduate of the first iMedia class, who spoke about his experience with finding a job after graduation and what it is like to make the transition from student to professional. It was really useful to hear from someone who has been in our position and not only made it through the program successfully, but was able to secure a job right after graduation that he has stayed at ever since.

iMedia Tailgate

Past and present students mingle along with faculty at the iMedia homecoming tailgate on Saturday

One of the most important things that Conor discussed was how well this program teaches you to market yourself. Regardless of what you want to do with your life, you need some form of marketing skills to make it successfully through a job search. In this program, through different projects and homework assignments you are inadvertently creating your own professional portfolio to display your skills. Just because a website or infographic was required for your class, doesn’t mean it wasn’t professional level work. And chances are if your instructor thought it was great, a potential employer would too. Even if your final submission for a project wasn’t of professional quality, you get feedback so that you can get it there and really show employers what you can do.

This leads me to another point that Conor made, which was that it is important to put in work outside of class. If you only do the work that’s assigned, you will come out with a set number of projects and you’ll only learn from the syllabus. But it’s really important to get life experience and see what kinds of problems and solutions pop up in the field. By working on projects outside of class, you can learn new skills that you can bring in to your class work. Not to mention it will definitely help to improve your creative thinking. In the professional world you’ll be working on what someone tells you to, but you may not have a lot of opportunities to pursue passion projects, or just fun, goofy projects. In graduate school you have the chance to not only do these projects, but combine your skills with all of the other students around you. Which brings me to Conors final, and in my mind, most crucial point: our biggest assets are each other.

We are all in the same boat as iMedia students, cruising towards a common goal. Chances are if one person is having a problem, someone else will be encountering the same issue and you can work it out together. Or perhaps they’ve already solved the problem and can teach you to do the same. But even more than just having a group of 31 study buddies, we all have different skillsets and life experiences. Just because I may be interested in web development, doesn’t mean I won’t come across a graphic design position that my classmate would be perfect for. Or maybe a few months after graduation if I’m still taking on the job search, one of my fellow alumni could have an opening at their place of employment and can help me get through the door.

The size of this program and the ways we get to interact every day are conducive to creating an extremely tight-knit community on our second floor, home away from home. Getting to hear from Conor about where this program has taken him and what it could do for my classmates and me was really helpful and reassuring as we head into the second half of the semester and move further into our job search.

Campaign Kick-Off

By Marianne Brigola, Comm Career Advisor

Happy Homecoming 2015! This is a big year for the School of Communications. Today the School of Comm is hosting several events to promote several exciting changes coming over the next few years.

Every year for Homecoming, the School of Communications hosts an alumni welcome lunch on Friday, to welcome back our fabulous alumni. This is followed by the annual Alumni Wisdom Panel, coordinated by Nagatha Tonkins, School of Communications Director of Internships. This year’s panel includes iMedia alum, Conor Britain.

Last night at a gala in NYC hosted by Elon parent Brian Williams (yes, of NBC Nightly News), the School of Communications officially launched the public campaign for new facilities. The $15M campaign will provide funding for new communication facilities that will include new interactive media labs, a media-analytics lab, a renovated news station, a 250-seat theater, as well as classroom spaces and faculty offices.

Check out the new School of Communications buildings below!



Learn, Experience and Network

By Monique L. Lewis, iMedia ‘15

Outside of the great information and skills we are learning in class, the iMedia program also offers many learning, experience, and networking opportunities. I’ve gathered a collection of upcoming events for iMedia ’15 to attend and to give future iMedia students an idea of what to look forward to when they’re in the program:

Lights, Camera, Hired! Resumes for Hollywood
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 @ 6:30 PM
McEwen 011
“Interested in making it in ‘The Industry?’ Learn what makes a resume standout in Hollywood straight from the professionals. Presented by Elon University ’12 alum Raj Rawal, who has hired interns, worked with What’s Trending, 20th Century Fox, and Creative Artists Agency, and also participated in resume workshops with William Morris Endeavor talent agency and Warner Brothers. Come and learn the secrets of landing and conquering an entertainment interview and jump starting your career.”

Smart Social Media for the 21st Century: Becoming a Social Media Tastemaker
Thursday, October 16, 2014 @ 4:15 PM
McEwen 011
“Learn how to use social media for more than just ‘likes’ and re-tweets. Former ‘What’s Trending’ Associate producer and current Streamline Producer for ‘MissGlamorazzi,’ Elon University ’12 alum Raj Rawal shares what it takes to become a tastemaker in a social media and digitally driven world.”

Matthew Duncan
Thursday, October 23, 2014 @ 3:00 PM
Matthew Duncan is an iMedia ’12 alum and associate product manager at ESPN. He will speak with iMedia ‘15 about his opportunities and career choices.

Rails Girls RDU
Friday, October 17, 2014- Saturday, October 18, 2014
Durham, NC
Rails Girls RDU is offering women who are interested in learning Ruby on Rails, an application framework that greatly simplifies the development of web apps, a free two-day workshop. Applications will be accepted until 10/15.

Thursday, October 23, 2014- Friday, October 24, 2014
Greensboro, NC
Every year, SalesFactory + Woodbine in Greensboro hosts a 24-hour non-profit media blitz called a CreateAthon that results in new projects for non-profits and local organizations. They have reserved three spots for iMedia ’15 designers to pitch in for the event. The event runs from Thursday, October 23 at 8 AM to Friday, October 24 @ 8 AM.This is a great opportunity to make connections and create a nice portfolio piece.

This list is only the beginning of opportunities that iMedia instructors and alumni pass along to students through email and the Elon University Interactive Media Community Facebook page.

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.


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.

Winter Fly-ins are approaching!

There is a constant buzz going around the second floor of the Powell building. Plans for Winter Fly-ins are starting to get underway. No one is really sure about any actual details or what to expect. Where will we go? Who will we go with? What project will we be working on? These are just a few of the plethora of questions that are going through the minds of students. For those of you that are not familiar with this amazing opportunity for iMedia students, let me explain.

iMedia sFly-In Interviewtudents Winter term consists of flying to an international destination to work on a project for the common good. Students are placed into teams that are sent to work with an organization or group that can benefit from our digital skills. We work with these groups to provide them with digital media such as audio, video, and web content. The majority of these projects focus on building community recognition, increasing volunteer efforts and boosting fundraising. Previous trips, just to name a few, have ventured to Costa Rica, Cuba, Iceland, and the Dominican Republic. If you look at past projects, like last years Finca La Esperanza or Restore Old Havana Initiative, you can see the power that interactive media can give to these causes.

Last week, we had to fill out a rating sheet for our iMedia skills. These skills will determine the groups that we are placed in to provide the best range of talents for each trip. This will also allow students to focus on their talents while also building new ones. Later this week, we will find out our group mates and where we will be going.

This years trips explore the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. One of these groups will be going to the DR. The intent will be to help a group of women who use natural resources and recycled materials to produce products. These products are culturally based and include things such as handbags. The main outcome for this group will be to build an online presence to sell their merchandise and teach the women basic computer skills to maintain and update the site.

I find this as a great way to help progress our talents in a real world scenario that benefits all that are involved. Wherever we are placed, I know that we will all be excited when January rolls around so we can get started on our assignments. The opportunity to use our skills in a beneficial way is something that that really made this program stand out to me. I’m glad that I will now get to be a part of it.

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.