Being part of the Elon in Los Angeles program means learning, living and interning in L.A. It also means making a 2,500-mile, three-time-zone trek from Elon, N.C., to southern California. And that has the potential of breeding disconnectedness between the 28 students in the second year of the program and their friends, families and professors back east.
But with the Elon in Los Angeles class blog, which launched June 10, students are able to post short, written pieces about their internships and experiences, creative videos, pitches, polls and photographs. It’s a way for them to showcase their work and to keep people worldwide updated on their adventures.
“It serves as an outlet. It serves as a channel,” says J. McMerty, the coordinator of the Elon in L.A. program. “It really shows what we’re doing out here. The blog also allows us to communicate with other audiences, such as prospective students. Last year, we noticed they were following blog either before they came to Elon or as juniors in high school who were going to be seniors. It also serves as admissions tool, which we weren’t even thinking about when we created it. But it’s been a nice latent effect that the blog has had.”
And last year’s version of the blog was wildly successful. According to McMerty, it received more than 24,000 hits, a number that McMerty says he wants to double in its second year of existence. And while the first posts hit the blog June 10, the first video will be posted June 18.
The webisode will feature students pitching their ideas for a short film using the theme of “Ten,” which will force students to produce a short story or a fictional narrative that incorporates 10 faces, 10 places, 10 words and/or 10 symbols.
Students in the program will vote on the top four pitches, and those students will be allowed to make their films. The second webisode will chronicle the making of the videos. The third will showcase the four pieces, and visitors to the blog will get to vote on their favorite film.
“It’s really how we express and show the world all the projects and everything we’re doing in Los Angeles, not only projects within the class itself, but the experiences we’re going to have separately—socially, in our internships, and culturally,” said sophomore strategic communications major and blog producer Lauren Murphy. “I want everyone in the Elon community to see it and see what we’re doing out here. I want as many people as we can to see our blog and our projects.”
McMerty says the students in the program are required to post at least six items during their nine weeks in L.A. He says it’s important to keep the blog updated and refreshed so that people continue to have a reason to check the blog often, which is why the blog will be updated with at least two posts every day. Sophomore strategic communications major Paul Busby said that won’t be a difficult requirement for him to meet.
“I’m looking forward to blogging because it seems like a very literary way to bring together several multimedia aspects of the trip,” said junior strategic communications major Paul Busby. “We need coverage and promotion for all the creative projects were putting together. Without this kind of medium, they won’t get the views that they need.”
But why a blog? What’s so appealing about the medium that the students have to devote so much time and energy to it? McMerty says it’s because of the interactivity and ease of use for folks in the program and people viewing it abroad.
“It lets the students really be interactive in conversations, but it also lets them do short, small interactive journals that are fun to write,” McMerty says. “We chose wordpress.com for layout and ease of use. There’s not necessarily a concentration on this blog with design and coding, but we’re really concentrating on the content.”