iMedia at Elon

Interactive Media graduate program finds home in Powell, kicks off Monday

By Laura Smith/ The Pendulum

The second floor of Powell is reconstructed for the iMedia program. Photo by Lindsay Fendt

The second floor of Powell is reconstructed for the iMedia program. Photo by Lindsay Fendt

At the end of the summer, Elon University will install its fifth graduate program. The Interactive Media program will begin in August and the second floor of Powell is well under way to housing the accommodations.

Beginning construction in June, the second floor of Powell no longer houses classrooms for history, but computer labs, interactive classrooms and editing suites. Finishing touches are being put into the program and classes are set to start the end of August for the charter class of 38 students.

“All the basics for the program have been handled or are being handled,” said  David Copeland, program director and communications professor. “That means orientation, registration, first classes, anything that’s required for students is being taken care of.”

Students entering into the program consist of 22 Elon graduates while others come from school such as Colgate University, Furman University, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Miami, N.C. State University and more according to Dean of McEwen Communications School, Paul Parsons. Students range from backgrounds in communications, art, history, philosophy, theater, biology, English, business, digital art and environmental science.

The program will consist of 12 courses total: one in August, five in the fall, one during Winter Term and four in the spring (with one being a six hour course).

Fall will consist of completion of group projects led by faculty members, Winter Term will include some sort of public good project including travel and spring will consist of individual projects from each student.

The program will begin at the end of August when the students who have not had a background in communications will take two classes, one in media law (taught by Jessica Gisclair) and one in media writing (taught by Glenn Scott).

In August, professors Vic Costello and Randy Piland will teach digital media workshops to all students. Half the classes will be taught by existing faculty members and the other half will be taught by the three new faculty members.

The new staff includes Michelle Ferrier, Sang Nam and Phillip Motley. Ferrier comes as the managing online editor for community websites with a newspaper in Daytona. Nam comes from the University of Wisconsin system and has expertise in 3-D. Motley also comes from the University of Wisconsin system and recently helped create a new major in serious gaming at the school.

The School of Communications had a national search and in the end “we ended up hiring three experienced professors all who have worked in interactive media as a professional,” Parsons, said. “That’s a criteria for us is professional experience.”

The classrooms and editing bays will all consist of Macintosh computers and products, just as there is in the School of Communications.

The staff of the program is optimistic for a successful year ahead and the knowledge the students will get out of it.

“One thing of which we’re certain is that the world of media is changing,” Copeland said. “Interactivity is where we see most media heading, and it is important that journalists, no matter whether they’re in tradition print or in broadcast stay on the cutting edge of technology. It’s where the jobs will be, and it’s the way information is being shared.”
Parsons agrees with Copeland.

“I believe this is the future of media, that more and more audiences want to interact with their content,” he said. “They want to ask questions, they want to get that content in text, in visuals, maybe in graphic form but they want the content coming to them in different formats and they want to be able to interact with the content. This program is really for those who want to be content creators and content managers.”

Parsons said the class size will stay about the same in the future at around 38 students.

“We think this is a nice size because the program stays small enough to be personal,” he said.

Parsons said he is aware of what this program can bring to the students.

“Interactive media is a particularly hot field, anyone with skills, whether they have the degree or not, anyone with some interactive media skills is going to be a stronger job applicant,” Parons said. “The world of media is changing so rapidly that I would say there is a great desire for youth for people who get it, who understand who can take the concepts of social media and apply them in a useful way for an organization.”

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