Breathing New Life into Media

Did you ever read the book Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson? It’s about a boy, Harold, who draws pretty much anything he needs with his trusty purple crayon.  For example, Harold ends up floating in the ocean during one of his adventures, so he whips out his purple crayon, draws himself a sailboat to climb into and sails away. Problem solved. How cool, right? What if we all had purple crayons that could solve problems that easily?

That concept of “what if” combined with a theoretical purple crayon has cropped up repeatedly in my work as an instructional technologist and media production specialist. Faculty, students and staff are wonderful at imagining a continuous supply of the what if’s, while digital technology, software and the web, have afforded us an amazingly diverse box of “crayons” and canvases to “draw” upon.

And I certainly would not classify the what if’s only as problems that need solving. They most often fall into the category of “How would I incorporate X into my class?” with X being something like:

  • collaborative writing/publishing via a wiki with mixed media content (images, audio, video)
  • multimedia narrative projects/visual histories
  • incorporating video clips into assignments and for peer review and commentary
  • student audio/video recording and editing (e.g. fieldwork, interviews, etc.)
  • blogs as presentation/publishing tools

The list is limited only by their imagination.

Work stations in Jesup 316 now have both a Mac and a PC sharing a monitor.

316 work station

Since returning to Williams late last semester as the Media Studios & Technologies Coordinator in the ITech group of OIT, I have consulted with faculty, students, and staff on multimedia production and support on campus, and more specifically, media scholarship in the curriculum.  I am very pleased to share with you now some of the physical and philosophical changes in supporting multimedia development that ITech is adopting in Jesup and the other Media Production Studio locations in an effort to better serve and educate the campus community.

As a stepping stone to OIT’s planned Center for Media Initiatives (CMI), part of the Sawyer/CMI building project, we are pleased to announce the creation of the Media Education Center (MEC) in Jesup 316. We envision the MEC as the primary destination for individual consultation or small group training and support for multimedia projects, digital video production, and media scholarship in the curriculum. Key to the MEC’s success will be our focus on providing some of the core services outlined in the mission statement for the future CMI:

  • Promoting the use of multimedia and technology in teaching and learning.
  • Providing multiple levels of support from solving basic problems to complex multimedia production.
  • Promoting faculty/faculty and faculty/student interaction and collaboration assisted by OIT Instructional Technologists as needed.
  • Provide facilities where students can collaborate on multimedia projects with Student Media Consultants and professional backup nearby.

The MEC is open for use weekdays, 9 AM – 5 PM. We are also staffing the MEC weekdays 10-12 in the mornings and 2-5 each afternoon. We encourage you to drop in during these staffed time slots with your media questions, problems, and ideas.

As the plan for the MEC developed, we also recognized the need to more precisely duplicate there the physical resources found in the other Media Production Studios.  If we imagine our community will come to the MEC to explore and learn, then we must outfit the Studios to produce in the same manner we teach, right?  Additionally, appreciating changes in the patterns and culture of media production methods gave us an opportunity to create media studios that provide a mix of traditional production workstation layouts interspersed with soft seating, laptop areas, and large screen collaborative spaces.  The emphasis on establishing creative and inviting environments, that are functional for individuals and groups interchangeably, remains our high priority.

Large display in Jesup 316 for teaching and collaborating

Collaboration station in Jesup 316

Notable tidbits about the Studios:

The Aquarium– (Jesup 101), is now officially named The Aquarium since that’s what everyone already calls it!  It has a mix of MAC and PC video editing stations, flatbed and slide scanners, and includes an open area with soft seating for laptop use. The Aquarium is only staffed in the evenings and on weekends when the MEC is closed. The timeslots for staffed hours are posted on the door and also linked on the MEC website.

The Cellar – (Jesup B03) – contains PC’s only. It includes a large screen collaborative station for group project work, or easy hook-up for laptops, peripherals (or even gaming consoles – user supplied!) and is intended to promote a more social computing atmosphere.

Jesup 204 – is a mix of high-end media production stations, both Mac & PC. It has a dedicated music composing/recording workstation, flatbed scanners and an open area with soft seating for laptops. Jesup 204 is intended as a quieter studio for more serious work.

We have also moved our dedicated Training Station for use to Jesup 204, recognizable by the bright yellow poster and icons. is gaining in popularity with our users as a one-stop, self-paced, video tutorial training site with offerings on just about any software you can name for media production and office productivity.

Other Studio locations include Spencer 216 (Art Studio building) and reservable Final Cut Pro editing suites in Dodd Annex and Jesup 316A.

To browse a listing of Media Production Studios and the MEC and related equipment, you can visit the OIT site.

To request an appointment with ITech professional staff to talk about media scholarship opportunities in teaching and learning, or other project ideas you may have, contact

Please visit the Media Education Center (Jesup 316) soon! We would love to share our big box of crayons with you!

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