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Interactive Media students exhibit innovative thesis projects

The evening before their Commencement ceremony, graduate students in Elon University's Interactive Media master's program hosted the annual iMedia Capstone Exhibition, presenting their yearlong projects to professionals, faculty and staff, family and friends.

During the spring 2016 iMedia Capstone Exhibition, Michelle Murphy highlights her mobile application, Fetch, which could enable crowdsourced concession delivery at live events.

While the chosen theme of this year’s iMedia Capstone Exhibition was “Aloha iMedia!,” the showcase could have easily been rebranded “Solutions,” for the projects generated many of them.

The annual event, hosted in Powell Building on May 18, provided this year’s 36 graduate students in the Interactive Media master's program a platform to unveil their thesis projects, which ranged from promotional websites and interactive videos to mobile applications and virtual reality. Photos from the exhibition are available on the School of Communications’ Flickr page.

Through their 10-month exploration of new avenues in interactive and digital media delivery, the members of the 2016 iMedia class discovered new technical skills, new passions and new answers to existing problems.   

Tim Babiasz outlines his website, Metrognome, to Maggie Mullikin (center), coordinator of graduate outreach and special programs, and Naeemah Clark, associate professor of communications. Babiasz's site attempts to restore context to American music in the digital age.

​“A number of the projects just went above and beyond,” said David Copeland, Elon’s A.J. Fletcher Professor and director of the graduate program. “This year’s class probably came in with the highest level of skills of any class that we’ve had. They have, at least in certain ways, taken what they’ve done with interactive to new levels and new places.”

Among those projects pushing into new technological territory was Jake Moser’s Gaming and Eye Tracking capstone project. Utilizing a Gazepoint eye tracker, he developed a way for users to play desktop games hands-free. As part of his thesis, Moser looked specifically at how individuals with disabilities could use this relatively inexpensive eye tracker.

“It’s a really smart idea, and it has a lot of benefits,” Copeland said. “It can help people with disabilities use the Internet, and it’s a clever use of technology and innovation.”

During a New England Patriots game last fall, Michelle Murphy found herself torn between getting up for food and not wanting to miss the action. That dilemma led to her to develop Fetch, a mobile app that could enable crowdsourced concession delivery at live events — think Uber, but with food.

Erin Turner ’15 (left) discusses her project, “Beyond the Cover Page,” an interactive analysis addressing the importance of minority representation within media.

​“I wanted to get food, but I didn’t want to leave my seat,” she said. “I figured, ‘Why can’t I order food and have someone else bring it to me?’ I later realized this idea hasn’t been done, so my competitor analysis ... well, there wasn’t really anything.”

Likewise, other Interactive Media students explored a multitude of other interests and potential areas of need.

Jordynn McKnight created an interactive site exploring the history of the African diaspora in the Americas. Haley Burton breathed new life into General Sherman’s 1865 march through the South with her online interactive documentary, Carolinas Campaign. And through an extensive collection of virtual reality experiences, Tyler Parrott ’15 allows viewers to tour North Carolina’s Hanging Rock State Park.

A full overview of this year’s capstone exhibition and its projects is available here.

Copeland commended this year’s class — the school’s seventh iMedia cohort — for the quality of its work and overall effort. He noted that although the exhibition lasts just a few hours, these projects encompass months of research, planning and implementation. He noted that the origins of these final projects can often be traced back to Assistant Professor Derek Lackaff’s “Theory and Audience Analysis” class, one of the first courses of the program.

Lauren Brame (right) talks about her hydration tracker application prototype with two attendees.

Looking back at her iMedia experience, Murphy said the program not only built up her technical skills, but also her interest in interactive media.

“It is such a unique education, and you really can’t find another program like this,” she said. “I’ve learned things I really wanted to learn. As an undergraduate, I remember having to take classes that weren’t going to help me professionally. Here, you don’t want to miss anything because everything you learn is going to be valuable in the future.”

As he looks for employment following Commencement, Moser said the iMedia program has set him up to be an attractive job applicant, and eventually a well-rounded employee.

“Speaking as someone who majored in the humanities as an undergraduate, this program was a way to reconcile those skills while also adding specific technical skills, which are very much in demand. That makes me a lot more employable,” he said. “I also enjoyed the overlay between our iMedia classes, because all the skills we learned are related. The point of this program is to teach us how to work across media platforms, and that’s exactly what it did.”

Tommy Kopetskie,
5/19/2016 12:05 AM