Archive for February 2012

The Global Reach of iMedia

February 13, 2012

The most innovative feature of our M.A. in Interactive Media program is the Winter Term fly-in.

Last month, our 41 iMedia students divided into five teams that went to Iceland, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica (two teams) to produce an interactive project for the public good.

This week, three iMedia students will appear on “North Carolina Now” on UNC-TV public television (7:30 p.m. Thursday). Lindsey Taylor, Chris Kirkham and Brandy Stearns were part of a team that went to the reserve for the Boruca indigenous group in Costa Rica and created a website to showcase the group’s culture upon their return.

Their teacher, Associate Professor Amanda Sturgill, observed, “The fly-in is a key aspect of the iMedia program because students can integrate what they’ve learned in the fall as they work together, very hard, on these projects. Going to these countries and working with these organizations is a real challenge. We learn about other cultures and ways of life, all while getting a large project completed in a small amount of time.”

iMedia students prepare for the UNC-TV interview

Senior Lecturer Randy Piland, accompanied by Assistant Professor Nicole Triche, took students to Panama for his third year, this time to work with a group that does conservation and education about sea turtles. Piland said that the students were very fortunate to be there when baby turtles hatched and made their way to the sea – something that can’t be predicted. That moment was preserved by iMedia students in a video for the group’s website designed by the team.

Further north, Assistant Professor Phillip Motley took students to Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, where they traveled for several days, ending up at Campanario Biological Station, which is run by a former Peace Corps volunteer who purchased the land and developed the station for education, conservation and research. Motley’s group carried gear across rivers and through jungles to get great shots of the biological and cultural diversity that Campanario seeks to preserve. “The problems that our students are expected to solve are genuine,” Motley said. “Providing our clients with a viable solution is the ultimate measure of project and course success.”

Assistant Professors Sang Nam and Max Negin took students to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico to work with a program that provides supplementary education for children in the area. Students worked to develop a consistent brand for Academia Natanael, including designing custom logos for the group. They also incorporated a blog element into the website that lets the academy director tell the stories about his work in a way that he can easily update.

Really further north, a hardy group of iMedia students, Assistant Professor Derek Lackaff and Instructor J McMerty spent the first part of 2012 in Iceland. Lackaff’s students did a series of videos and a website redesign for the Citizen’s Foundation, which seeks to use new technologies to increase citizen participation in democratic decision-making. “Small societies are fascinating!” Lackaff said. “With only 315,000 residents in the country, we were told repeatedly that there are at most only two degrees of separation between any two Icelanders. The Mayor of Reykjavik, a Member of Parliament, and an Academy Award-nominated poet were among the friends of the nonprofit who were willing to be filmed for our project.”

iMedia students presented their work to a standing-room-only crowd in McEwen Communications Building two weeks ago, and now some of them will be on statewide television, sharing the story of Elon’s global reach through its interactive projects for the public good.

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Please, Not That Phrase Again!

February 11, 2012

Certain words and phrases have their season. They catch fire, sound quite sophisticated for awhile, and then start to drive us nuts from overuse.

“Low hanging fruit” is a good example, and “Dilbert” by Scott Adams has fun with that phrase.

PR Daily publisher Mark Ragan asked his Twitter followers last week which overused phrases come to mind, and here are three more: “value-added,” “thinking outside the box” and “paradigm shift.” I’ll add “go to the next level.” Of course, in terms of overused phrases, this is only the low hanging fruit.

A Conversation with the President

February 11, 2012

President Lambert welcomed the School of Communications faculty and staff to his home this week for a conversation about the future of Elon.

He started by complimenting the school, saying, “You are absolutely on fire!” The president called the school “truly extraordinary” and said that when people now think of Elon, many think of the School of Communications.

In his series of conversations about the future of Elon, the president focuses on what he sees as the headlines from The Elon Commitment strategic plan over the next 3-5 years.

He listed 10 headlines. The first is to build “a premier residential campus” because students perform better academically when they live on campus. He talked about the need for intercultural competence in its many forms, such as study abroad, foreign language instruction, religious pluralism, campus internationalization, and a doubling of need-based financial aid. His third headline was creation of a National Center for Engaged Learning.

His fourth headline especially grabbed our attention — a showcase School of Communications building. He called it “the next big thing” in terms of construction projects at the university and said it will be a premier building for a premier program.

Other headlines dealt with the Student Professional Development Center, law school, business school, athletics, a culture of philanthropy, and maintaining Elon’s “best value” position by keeping tuition increases in check. Robust Q&A followed.

We are fortunate to be at a forward-thinking university where the president wants to interact with faculty and staff about the future.