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Digital Commons brings media production to Penn State Lehigh Valley campus

11/20/2007 —

"Students now have the opportunity of producing multi-media productions at Penn State Lehigh Valley," states Dr. Ann Williams, Chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley, in response to the campus' newly established Digital Commons – a university-wide initiative to help enrich students' educations by creating digital content for their course work. This initiative has resulted in a MAC-based media studio at the campus that provides students with everything necessary to create their own multi-media productions. This will provide all Penn State students, staff, and faculty, across all disciplines, with the means to create digital content to enrich course work.

Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT), a unit of Information Technology Services at Penn State University, began the Digital Commons to enhance students' learning experiences with video, audio, and multi-media. Used in courses, digital media can help engage students in learning, illustrate complex concepts, and inspire creativity. Eileen Grodziak, the Instructional Services Specialist for the Digital Commons at Penn State Lehigh Valley, explains, "We are one of the first five campuses, outside of University Park, to receive this studio and equipment and we're excited to be able to offer this state-of-the-art technology for our students, faculty, and staff."

Penn State University will be providing all campuses with a Digital Commons facility that will have a common set of computing tools, a common set of support materials, and a common set of opportunities to create digital media of all kinds. In addition to providing all of the equipment, the University is supporting the program with a Digital Commons consultant who visits each campus regularly.

Digital content creation is growing as a form of communication within higher education. More faculty not only accept digital content as evidence of learning, but also promoting it to engage students in new ways. A student may be assigned to make a video of a role play with teammates, record a podcast on an aspect of culture in another country, compile a narrated video history of a technology, make a documentary, record a time-lapse movie of a construction site, or prepare video highlights from a field study. Additionally, the need for faculty to use advanced media objects to support their in-class teaching has been increasing and will continue to climb as students come to expect a richer experience.

Grodziak elaborates, "We currently have three classes that are requiring multi-media production as part of their students' assignments this semester. In addition, we have a number of projects in the works for our Student Affairs office."             

With the explosion of user-created content environments, both within Penn State and beyond, like Podcasts at Penn State, Streaming at Penn State, Google Video, Flickr, and You Tube, the Digital Commons provides the learning space where faculty and students can gather with knowledgeable staff to create meaningful digital media. According to a recent PULSE survey (November 2006) on social networking:

            83% of our students use Facebook.

            87% use Facebook or MySpace.

            85% have viewed a video on YouTube.

            64% have viewed photos on Flickr or similar sites.

Yet

            Only 34% have uploaded a photo.

            Only 16% have posted a video on YouTube.

            47% have purchased legal music or movies online.

These combined factors have led to the creation of the Digital Commons concept — a University program that offers students the ability to succeed in today's technology-based world.

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