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Interactive Media program welcomes Class of 2011

The School of Communications on Aug. 2 welcomed students enrolled in the second year of the master’s program in Interactive Media, a day that culminates with the group taking its first class as graduate students.

David Copeland, professor of communications, addresses the incoming students in Elon's interactive media master's program

The incoming class of 2011 features 37 students who will learn how to plan and create interactive media content consisting of text, images, sounds, video and graphics, and to manage information for interactive news, entertainment and persuasive communications.

"We welcome this second class with even more confidence, having seen the transformation and success of the inaugural class that proudly graduated in May," said School of Communications Dean Paul Parsons.

Regular fall semester classes will begin Sept. 1, but students begin their 10-month master’s journey this afternoon in a three-week Digital Media Workshop. Already, students in the program said they are enthusiastic about the prospect of gaining practical multimedia skills.

In fact, Bradley Mu’s excitement piqued last year, when he began sitting in on classes, as he prepared to make the shift from the magazine industry to post-graduate education.

“I felt like magazines are a slowly dying industry,” said Mu, a 2006 graduate in international studies from the University of North Carolina. “It’s all shifting online, and to go to this program would help me to write my own ticket. I feel like what I do with this degree is going to be creative and collaborative.”

Students will work together in a fully equipped facility on the second floor of Powell, where they will have 24-hour access to a computer lab, an equipment-checkout area, editing suites and all the multimedia and software tools needed to be an effective online storyteller. They will take courses in both theory and strategy, and they will complete a domestic or international fly-in to collect content for a Winter Term project to serve the public good.

Students will be working closely with a faculty that touts decades of professional experience in traditional and interactive media fields. They’ll take classes in audience analysis, interactive writing, interactive media strategies, virtual environments, visual aesthetics and intellectual property law.

And that all sounds good to student Caitlin Smith, a 2005 visual art major from N.C. State University. Before entering the iMedia program, she most recently worked for a consulting firm but decided to pursue a more creative career in interactive communications, where she thinks there will be more opportunities for professional growth.

When she heard about Elon’s M.A. in Interactive Media, she began studying for the GRE on her lunch breaks and anxiously awaited for the program to begin.

“What made me want to apply here was that I had just turned 26 last year, and I realized that if I live my life all over again I still can’t touch my 401k, so I better be happy with what I’m doing,” Smith said. “It really inspired me to go back and apply my writing background and use my visual art background, as well.”

This year’s cohort boasts students with diverse skills and educations, which program director and Communications professor David Copeland said gives the program more energy.

“The second class of interactive media master’s students brings a much wider diversity in terms of their undergraduate experiences than the initial class,” Copeland said. “This varied background will make this an exciting class.”

Some information about the new group:
• 24 students have some kind of communications undergraduate background. Other majors include history, psychology, art therapy sociology, anthropology and business.
• 25 colleges and universities are represented, including UNC, N.C. State, Miami, Rutgers, James Madison, Furman, St. Bonaventure, Northeastern and Virginia Tech. Eight students are Elon graduates.
• The average age is 25.
• There are 12 males and 25 females.

Copeland said this year’s program has undergone a few modifications, including shifting some electives to required classes, adding more instructors for the Digital Media Workshop and locking down the Winter Term fly-in experiences to Panama and Costa Rica more quickly.

“One of the great things about having a program that concludes in a year and has new students the next is the fact that you can immediately assess all elements of the program and make changes accordingly,” Copeland said. “Of course, because of the intense nature of the 10-month program, we’re constantly talking and seeing where changes might need to be made.”

Changes won’t be made to the kind of education the students will receive, though. They’ll continue to become quick experts in the field of multimedia and interactive storytelling, which will make them more marketable to employers when they graduate. And that has students psyched for the 10 months that lay ahead.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been excited as much about anything in my life,” Mu said. “It’s good to have a direction.”

Eric Townsend,
8/2/2010 9:39 PM