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W.I.T. 2009

If you ask somebody at OIT what WIT is, they’d probably tell you “it’s a summer technology internship for Williams students.” If you ask me, I’d tell you “it’s a bunch of multi-talented, diverse, and ambitious students who are rounded up at the end of the school year, locked up on the second floor of Jesup with no air-conditioning, and at the end of 10 weeks, they emerge with beautiful T-shirts and a dozen websites for faculty to play with.” I’d also tell you that for ten weeks I was part of a Family, a Playground and a School. That is what WIT really is to me- a Family, a Playground and a School. more...

On the first day, I reported to work at 9:00 in the morning where I met the other student interns. Some of the faces were new and some were quite familiar. However, there was a hint of strangeness that could not be ignored. I remember saying to myself, “This is whom I am going to be working with for the whole summer?” And if that wasn’t troubling enough, the air-conditioning did not work. I was always doubtful as to what sort of dynamics would be realized in the course of the program. I was doubtful as to how teams are going to relate, work and be productive. I was doubtful as to how prepared or cut out I was, for the projects that would be presented to us.

But then, before we got into the thick of things with web design and coding, we went through a two-week training period that cast away a lot of doubt. First, there was digital storytelling, and what an experience that was! In making digital stories, I was learning about new technology while exploring very personal aspects of my life at the same time. I had the rare opportunity to tell a personal story however I wanted to tell it, and at the same time, learn more about my fellow interns by sharing their stories. The Family was well on its way at this point in time.

Being a WIT intern this past summer was more of an eye-opening experience than a regular nine to five job. There was always something to look forward to learning every single day. I am now equipped with the necessary skills to work with HTML, CSS, PHP and can design a fully functional website from the ground up. However, it did take a while for me to get comfortable with the basics that would enable me to take up the projects. The training project surely played a big role in steering me in the right direction. Our student managers, Bret Scofield and Jeff Perlis, presented us with a project, which we were to work on individually or within groups. The amazing thing about the training project is that it created an avenue for us to learn about each other’s unique skills that would be applicable in the work setting. When I needed help I first consulted a fellow WIT Student then maybe an ITech (instructional technology) staff member. WIT, the school, taught me self-reliance, but most importantly, taught me to learn to rely on my colleagues.

They say work without play makes Jack a dull boy. We had game night to remedy that. Tuesday nights, the family got together and played strange board games, Wii sports, Rock Band, and Texas hold ’em, or occasionally jammed to the tune of Trevor Murphy’s (an ITech staff member) mandolin. Friday lunches were exceptional as well. Every week there was tasty food from a variety of local restaurants that we enjoyed with our sponsors, and the whole family. We also had a blast canoeing and mini-golfing. The rest of the time, we had each other, our sponsors, the ITech staff, our projects, the internet and YouTube.

The projects were interesting and fun to work on. There were times when we burned the midnight oil in the name of getting something to work. But even then, we had the backing of our fellow students, the student managers, and the ITech staff. At the end of it, we emerged with our beautiful WIT 2009 T-shirts and presented our projects to our sponsors and the Williams community. All in all, it was a great experience. From this summer, I derive a great sense of pride and fulfillment in my fellow interns, the WIT program, and myself.

-written with Azd Al-Kadasi ’12

For more information about the WIT program, visit the WIT site.

WIT Intern Program & Projects

The Williams Instructional Technology Program (WIT) had another successful summer. 16 projects for 11 academic departments/programs and 5 administrative offices were completed. WIT is a summer intern program designed to bring together students and faculty to work collaboratively on technology projects. For 10 weeks in the summer, 12 student interns work in teams of three. Each team is responsible for ~3-4 projects which have a broad range of components, including audio/video production, graphic design, web development, animation, and programming. At the end of the summer, the interns give a public presentation on their projects, and prepare documentation for their sponsors explaining how to maintain and update the projects. The technical and project development skills learned by WIT interns make them excellent candidates to help with further projects for faculty and staff during the academic year. more...

WIT hires only Williams College students. Preference is given to first-years and sophomores, but the occasional junior is hired for a specific skill set. One returning student is also hired to serve as the student manager of the program. To be qualified for WIT, students should have basic technology skills, and desire to learn more.

Many people assist with the program- workshops were given by Ed Epping, professor of art, on graphic design; Rebecca Ohm, reference librarian, on copyright issues; and Shawn Rosenheim, professor of English, and Satyan Devadoss, associate professor of mathematics, on how to give engaging presentations.

Instructional Technology staff gave workshops and ongoing training in Photoshop, iMovie, Flash, HTML/CSS, database design, programming, project management, and technical writing.

Highlights from WIT 2008

Math Department Site/Blog: A new Mathematics and Statistics department web site was designed that incorporated blogging technology. The site allows prospective and current majors, as well as faculty (both internal and external to Williams), to keep up with departmental events and information. The math faculty keep the site fresh by posting their thoughts/ideas on mathematical topics, and starting discussions around them.

Admissions Virtual Tour: The interns created an interactive online virtual tour for prospective Williams students and their families. Visitors can see the campus through a collection of image slideshows, student descriptions, and an interactive map that takes you from location to location. The site manages to be informal and engaging, while still conveying important information about the College.

Online Citation Tutorial: The Library and Academic Resources Center commissioned an online tutorial on citation, documentation, and study habits for new and returning Williams students. The site features original comic-book style illustrations from one of the interns.

Obrecht: The interns created a website documenting Jacob Obrecht’s St. Donation Mass. It provides cultural context, a media player that allows visitors to view/hear segments of the reenactment, and animated/annotated scores for the mass.

If you are interested in WIT, the completed projects, or would like to explore using technology in teaching, learning and research, contact iTech@williams.edu or visit the WIT websitefor more details.

WIT interns working with their sponsor

WIT team Cyanide Delirium consults with their faculty sponsor, Jennifer Bloxam, on the Obrecht website.

WIT 2008

As I was canoeing down the Battenkill River and basking in the warmth of the afternoon sun, I began to wonder: am I really on a weekend trip with my fellow WIT interns, or am I actually at summer camp? I stared at the home-made cookies and trail mix provided by Trevor, took a glance back at my workmates paddling backwards, and decided: yes, definitely summer camp. Except for some reason they hand us these time cards every week, and my bank account has inexplicably been expanding. more...

Aside from our canoe trips and several free breakfasts from the Eco Café, the WIT interns do spend time working on projects ranging from department websites to Flash animations. During the first two weeks, the OIT staff transformed us from bumbling, self-taught techies to well-oiled, PHP-wielding, HTML-writing machines. Or, at the very least, they taught us to ask the right people for help when we needed it. With our newly acquired skills, we twelve interns cranked out sixteen projects over the course of six weeks. Although the workshops were helpful, the real learning began when we started work on our projects. It is one thing to know that you have to close every tag you open; it is quite another thing to actually implement it, especially as you stare dumbfounded at your computer, wondering where all your DIVs went.

Although many people think of computer jobs as isolated and monotonous, the WIT program emphasizes teamwork and creativity. The twelve interns were divided into four teams, each with a name more ridiculous than the last: Chameleon Element, Itty Bitty Mind, Cyanide Delirium, and Elite Panda Crew. While my team did divide the work up amongst ourselves, we always checked with each other and asked for suggestions before making any final decisions. Not only did team members work together, but the group as a whole shared tips on how to deal with WordPress and communally commiserated over the travesty that is Internet Explorer 6. We traded high-fives when teams got designs approved by picky sponsors and when we finally figured out those pesky drop-down menus; we provided pats on the back when websites disappeared, computers decided to commit suicide, or CDs full of aerial photographs mysteriously went missing.

While WIT is ostensibly a program to build up an army of multimedia and tech-savvy Williams students, it is also a social engineering project spearheaded by Adam Wang. After being photographed from every angle for the first two weeks by our trigger-happy boss, we were manipulated into eating lunch together every Friday. As if that weren’t enough, we were forced to bake desserts for Friday lunches with our teams. After spending all that bonding time together, I actually started to like my co-interns. What kind of sick mind hatches such a plot?

As the ten weeks of work winds to a close, I reflect back on what I have gained from WIT. Yes, we’ve learned how to code in several languages, bend Photoshop to our will, and motion tween with the best of them. But more importantly, we are infinitely better at baking, mini golf, and canoing. Sounds like summer camp to me.

Screenshots of Cyanide Delirium projects

Screenshots

The 2008 WIT interns

WIT team

Edition:Fall 2008 Department:Instructional Technology Tags: