Register Now for 2016 Media Summer Camps

Posted on: February 4, 2016

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Each summer, the Department of Media and Information offers media camps for middle and high school students. These camps are pre-college exposure programs for students interested in media and technology topics, including game design, 3D animation, web design, digital cinema and TV production.

Each camp includes five full days of interactive and intensive instruction with MSU faculty and staff, resulting with a showcase of student work on the last day.

Program Director Luke Kane says that more than 80 percent of students who participate say they have an increased interest and proficiency in technology as a result of the camps.

During the three weeks of camp in 2015, the Department of Media and Information hosted 231 students in 12 different courses.

media-summer-camp-20150717-007 copyRegistration for Summer 2016 is now open. For the early bird discount, register before Feb. 29.

This summer, a new Audio Programming course will be offered to the high school level to teach students how to compose their own digital music and audio.

Students may participate in day-only instruction or choose to stay overnight as a visiting residential student.

The day-only camp includes all instruction, instructional materials, computer facilities, all daytime activities and supervision. Students will receive a lunch meal plan through university cafeteria services. Camp hours run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The Overnight/Residential option includes all the features of the day camp and more. Overnight lodging for five nights (Sunday-Thursday) as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner meals throughout the week are included. There will be night recreational activities and overnight chaperone supervision.

Media Camps kick off in July and run for three weeks:


  • Beginner Game Design
  • Digital Cinema
  • Game Design with Minecraft
  • Intro to Programming using MInecraft


  • 3D Animation
  • Beginner Game Design
  • Mobile Game Design
  • Miss Media Michigan Girls Tech Camp


  • 3D Animation
  • Advanced Game Design
  • Audio Programming
  • Beginner Game Design
  • Digital Cinema

For more information, including informational videos, or to register, visit the Media Summer Camps web page.

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Students to Help Companies with New Tech Projects

Posted on: January 19, 2016

More than 15 teams of Michigan State University undergraduates are ready and waiting to help mid-Michigan businesses and nonprofits solve their complex digital problems.

As part of their final course in the ITMS-WP1Information Technology minor, students are required to work in cross-functional teams on a real-world IT (information technology) project.

They just need a few more “clients.”

“The students are capable of taking on a wide range of technology-related projects, because each team will comprise of students majoring in business, media and information, and computer science and engineering,” say Professors Constantinos K. Coursaris and Wietske van Osch, who are teaching the course through MSU’s Department of Media and Information.

In past semesters, students have developed websites and content management systems as well as database and workflow systems. They have produced promotional videos and developed social media strategies and online membership databases for various companies.

Proposals are now being accepted from area organizations for student teams to take on projects for the spring 2016 academic semester, starting in January and ending April 30. The ideal project is "hands-on" with a well-defined outcome that can be achieved by three to four students in 8-10 weeks.

To submit a project for consideration, please contact Dr. Coursaris via email by January 25, 2016, at

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Van Osch Presents Research at World Usability Day Event

Posted on: November 24, 2015

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In 2011, Wietske Van Osch, Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Information started looking at how companies were using social media. A year later, she began a partnership with Steelcase, a furniture company based out of Grand Rapids.

"Many companies view Steelcase as innovative. People are interested to hear more about their strategy and how they have used social media technologies to boost their innovation capacity,” Van Osch said.

Van OschDuring a World Usability Day event on Nov. 12 at Michigan State, Van Osch presented her research on innovation in enterprise social media. She spoke about the value of enterprise social media and its role in creating a shared work culture and breaking down hierarchical barriers.

"Currently four out of five companies are using some form of enterprise social media," Van Osch said. Although there is a range in the complexity of platforms, once many companies begin using this type of technology, it leads to exploration of more options as they recognize the value.

Steelcase uses Jive Software, which creates a customizable platform specifically for Steelcase. Employees are able to form groups and share ideas and projects they are developing. Other companies like HP and T-Mobile also use Jive software.

In her presentation, Van Osch shared the findings of data compiled over four years of research on Steelcase, including 656 project teams and more than 6,500 discussion threads, 2,000 blogs and 1,500 ideas.

“The goal of this research is to create an innovation dashboard that uses near real-time data from social media and gives continuous feedback to project managers on the success of the team's innovation processes,” she said. “Right now, innovation is like a car without a fuel meter, you don’t know when to pull over and fill up.”

World Usability DayWorld Usability Day was founded to explore ways to ensure that the services and products important to life are easy to access and simple to use. It is the largest gathering of industry professionals, academics, government leaders and students facilitating the progression of usability, user experience and user-centered design. Each year, the World Usability Day community holds more than 150 events in more than 40 countries. Michigan State University’s event draws speakers and attendees from all parts of North America representing industry, government and academia.

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GEL Lab Helps Design Video Game to Draw Kids to Science

Posted on: November 19, 2015


So you have particle, zooming through a particle accelerator at nearly half the speed of light. Your job: To keep it on track so it collides with a target. The collision provides information about such things as how the elements were formed.

While that sounds like a job for a scientist who has spent a lifetime studying such heady matters, it’s actually the object of a new digital game designed in part by the Department of Media and Information's Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab.

Called Isotopolis, the game is a joint venture of the (GEL) Lab and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) at MSU.

The goal: To get the public, including children as young as middle schoolers, interested in science.

“We need to be able to reach out to kids and get them excited about science,” said Zachary Constan, NSCL Outreach Director who helped design the game. “The game is very accessible, something they can do on their own. It’s going to get to them in a way I can’t.”

GEL Labe game 2With Isotopolis, a player guides a particle along a track, representing the accelerator used in real experiments, working to avoid various obstacles that arise. “They keep it on track by touching the left or right side of the screen,” said Andrew Dennis, Instructor in the Department of Media and Information, who helped design the game.

The more obstacles that are avoided, the faster the player’s particle gets, until it slams into the target, creating a new isotope, or an “atomic flavor of an element.”

“It represents, step by step, what we do in the NSCL, and what will eventually be done at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams when it is complete,” Constan said. “First there is an acceleration phase, followed by a phase where you actually hit the target and select the isotope of interest.”

In a real experiment, these collisions create isotopes that can exist on Earth for less than a second, but often can tell many tales, like providing information on how our universe was shaped and how stars generate the elements that we find on Earth.

“Science is something that people are intrinsically motivated to know more about,” Dennis said. “This gives them access to it in a way that they can really grab onto.”

The game can be downloaded on an iPad for free from the App Store.

Isotopolis is funded by a grant from the American Physical Society. Additional support was provided by MSU’s College of Communications Arts and Sciences, NSCL, the Office of the MSU Vice President for Research, MSU Graduate Studies, MSU University Outreach and Engagement, the Office of the MSU Vice President for Information Technology, MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, and the National Science Foundation.

Gel Lab game 3

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Alumnus Helps Speed Up Detroit's Downtown Resurgence

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One College of Communication Arts and Sciences alumnus is helping lead the effort to bring the fastest Internet available to Detroit.

Attuned to fiber optics and how high-speed connectivity is transforming U.S. cities, Media and Communication Technology alumnus Marc Hudson formulated an idea to bring similar capabilities to Detroit. While working as an engineer with Quicken Loans, Hudson pitched his concept to Quicken leadership, suggesting they add an ultrafast fiber optic company to Dan Gilbert's family of companies.

Quicken embraced the idea of an Internet service that is 1,000 times faster than average and agreed to finance Rocket Fiber through Rock Ventures. The company launched in 2014 with Hudson as Co-Founder and CEO.

Rocket Fiber Service Goes Live

Within the first year, the company installed 5.5 miles of fiber optic cable throughout Detroit's central business district then turned its focus to installing connecting cables to individual buildings. Just last week, Rocket Fiber debuted the service at its downtown Detroit headquarters and began activating customers in two apartment complexes in Capitol Park.

Marc Hudson Rocket Fiber 2Initially targeting downtown and Midtown, Rocket Fiber has so far laid 17 miles of fiber in the city, with about 20 office buildings connected to the network. Thousands of residential and business customers are scheduled to "go live" in the first few months of 2016, and plans are in place to bring the one-gigabyte-a-second connectivity to Midtown and other parts of Detroit in the coming year.

"I love being in this city and being part of something meaningful that's more than just about myself," Hudson said. "All the people down here are doing more than working a day job where they punch in and punch out. It's great to know that everything you do is impacting the economy and helping the city get back on its feet."

A Switch in Majors

Originally drawn to study Landscape and Nursery Management at Michigan State University, Hudson switched to software and computer engineering after designing a website for a local landscaper.

"I just fell in love with web design and programming," Hudson said. "I knew right then it was what I wanted to do."

Hudson quickly dug around for his next major and landed on Media and Communication Technology through the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. It was a program, he says, that provided a perfect hybrid of studies and internship opportunities in areas like web design, social computing and networking.

Marc Hudson 4Hudson graduated with his bachelor's and started his own web company in Michigan, close to his hometown of Novi. Before long, he sensed the energy of Detroit's downtown revitalization and wanted to join in.

"My parents and grandparents had always told me stories about Detroit's glory days," Hudson said. "I felt it important to be part of the generation that helps Detroit get back on its feet and be the great American city it has been."

Hudson recently was among the up-and-coming entrepreneurs, corporate executives and nonprofit visionaries named to the 2015 class of Detroit's "20 in their 20s" by Crain's Detroit Business.

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Symposium Gives Students Opportunity to Present Research

Posted on: November 18, 2015

The MIS PhD symposium gives Media & Information Studies PhD students the opportunity to share their research with a wider audience.

The fourth annual Media and Information Studies (MIS) Ph.D. Research Symposium brought together 12 Ph.D. students last Friday, Nov. 6, to present their most resent work in front of a diverse panel of judges.

The event awards an overall prize and a junior prize based on the quality of research and the quality of presentation. This year, the overall prize was split between two students: Syed Ali Hussain and Wonkyung Kim. The junior prize was awarded to Ruth Shillair.

“It’s good to share my research with colleagues and the symposium allowed me to make contacts with other professors and researchers,” Hussain said.

The panel of judges included Nora Rifon, Professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations; Casey O’Donnell, Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Information; and Bruno Takahashi, Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the School of Journalism and Department of Communication.

The MIS Ph.D. Research Symposium is a joint project between Associate Professor Rick Wash and Assistant Professor and AT&T Scholar Emilee Rader and supported by the MIS Ph.D. program and AT&T Endowment.

“I often present my research at specialized forums where everyone is interested in a specific topic or discipline,” “The MIS Ph.D. Symposium was a unique opportunity to share my research to a group of scholars with a diverse range of interests,” Shillair said. “And it was a wonderful opportunity to hear what my peers are doing in their research projects.”

Overall Prize Winners

Syed Ali Hussain, “Historical Thinking of Communication Theories and Concepts”

“Nostalgia allows people to recreate memories of better times in their mind. Advertisers use this to evoke emotion in people, to help sell their products. My study looks at how we can use nostalgia in health communication,” Hussain said. “Health communication is not selling a product, it’s selling a behavior. I looked at how using nostalgia could help send a more positive message to smokers about quitting. I created a commercial and tested it on smokers.”

Wonkyung Kim, “Understanding the Impact of Negative Electronic Word-of-Mouth on Consumer: The Role of Emotional Intensity and Tie-Strength”

“We encounter a lot of complaints in social media, from lots of different sources. Sometimes we see complaint tweets from mere acquaintances or total strangers, and sometimes from very close friends,” Kim said. “My study investigated the role of the emotional intensity of negative electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) and the tie strength between source and receiver, on consumer response to eWOM.

“I found a very interesting result that an angry tweet did not have a powerful impact unless it was from a close friend.”

Junior Prize Winner

Ruth Shillair, “Primed for Taking Risks: Previous Experiences with Online Security Breaches and Attitudinal Differences”

“Cyber safety is an area of increasing importance, and many individuals have personally experienced the results of a cyber threat,” said Shillair, Media and Information Ph.D. student. “My study looked at how experiences with a wide variety of online threats affected users attitudes and beliefs in protecting themselves. My hope is that we can design communication that will teach and motivate individuals to have good digital hygiene habits.”

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Helping to Better Understand Veterans with PTSD

Posted on: November 10, 2015

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Many veterans when they return home from war face a war within themselves known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With between 10 and 20 percent of all veterans having PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there have been an increasing number of confrontations between law enforcement officials and veterans with the disorder.

To better understand PTSD and what to do when encountering a veteran showing signs of post-traumatic stress (PTS), a College of Communication Arts and Sciences team created a training video for law enforcement agencies to serve as a guide for how they can have a positive impact on veterans in their community who may be struggling with PTSD.

Funded by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), the video was co-produced and directed by Amol Pavangadkar, Senior Producer and Specialist in the Department of Media and Information, and a team of 17 College of Communication Arts and Sciences students in collaboration with David Stephens, Executive in Residence in the School of Criminal Justice.

PTSD video 2“We received phenomenal support from the Michigan State Police, police chiefs and sheriffs all over Michigan and their respective departments,” Pavangadkar said. “We worked with veterans from recent wars and going back to the Vietnam War, and their stories and experiences helped shape this training video.”

The short-length video, titled “Invisible Wounds: Preparing first responders for veterans with PTS,” is about 18 minutes long so it can be shown during shift changes before officers go on duty.

Recognizing PTSD

One goal of the video is to help officers recognize the most common PTSD symptoms, which include flashbacks; frightening thoughts; emotional distress; negative feelings about yourself or other people; inability to experience positive emotions; having overwhelming guilt, depression or worry; feeling emotionally numb or hopeless about the future; losing interest in activities that were once enjoyable; being easily startled; feeling tense or “on edge;” trouble concentrating; angry outbursts; self-destructive behavior; memory problems; and difficulty sleeping or maintaining close relationships.

“The interesting thing with post-traumatic stress, as is the case with most disorders, is that while there are a set of symptoms, which tend to be somewhat universal and commonly shared, it is highly individualized,” said Robert Fabiano, a Psychologist who was interviewed for the video. “So two individuals who experience similar events may have entirely different reactions.”

PTSD interviewSeveral veterans were interviewed for the video and shared their stories. Due to post-traumatic stress, the veterans say they have lost marriages and have dealt with isolation, alcoholism, drugs and out-of-control anger.

“This is a very real subject and it plays out on 22 veterans a day on average who commit suicide,” said Jeff Barnes, Director of the Michigan Veteran’s Affairs Agency. “But the resources are just as real and a lot of times what we find is we don’t make that connection in enough time. So our goal with this is to let people know there are options available and to let veterans know they are not in this alone.”

The video offers these keys to a good officer/veteran interaction:

  • Use police officers who are veterans if available
  • Slow the situation down
  • Be a good listener
  • Be empathetic and convey respect
  • Ask them about their service or their family
  • Get on their level
  • Allow event ownership to provide a sense of control

"One thing I thought was interesting is that a law enforcement response to a situation involving a veteran undergoing a PTSD episode is somewhat contrary or counter-intuitive to the usual procedures an officer employs when arriving on scene, which emphasizes the importance of the training," Stephens said.

Making an Impact

A premiere of the video was held last June in Studio 134-D of the Communication Arts and Sciences Building. It also was shown to the Governor's Council on Law Enforcement and Reinvention. The video is now being used at law enforcement agencies across the state. It can be viewed in three different parts:

Veterans, law enforcement officers and those who worked on the project attended the premiere.

PTSD video“For all you students, you have no idea the kind of impact you have made with a single video that is not even 20 minutes long,” Barnes said after the screening. “So on behalf of the nearly 700,000 veterans in the state of Michigan, I thank you for the work you have done and the time you contributed to it.”

The students who worked on the project did so as a way to gain real-world experience.

“This is the first time I had ever worked on something where I was really using the stuff I had learned in class professionally,” said senior Media and Information major Trevor Ferla, who was one of the videographers on the project. “Beyond that, I learned a lot about people with PTSD. Doing those interviews and hearing the stories and the ways that you can help people, that also was a big part of the project for me.”

To honor their efforts, Pavangadkar and Stephens were each presented with MVAA Directors medallions for exemplary service towards veterans.

Currently, the 34 hours of video footage collected for this project is being edited and repurposed to create a general outreach and information feature to air on WKAR-TV early next year.

By Kimberly Popiolek, Communications Manager

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Trifecta Announces Fall Pilot Grant Recipients

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Trifecta_final_icon-01 copySome say good things come in threes.

That bears true for the second set of grants awarded this fall through Trifecta, an interdisciplinary research initiative that combines the talents of three MSU colleges –Communication Arts and Science, Engineering and Nursing.

The three research projects receiving Trifecta Pilot Funding Grant Awards in fall 2015 include:

"Celebration Drinking and Social Media"

  • Principal Investigator: Saleem Alhabash, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Sandi Smith, College of Communication Arts and Sciences; Pang-Ning Tan, College of Engineering
  • Amount: $10,000

"Machine Learning Content: Analysis of e-Cigarette Communication on Social Media"

  • Principal Investigator: Ashley Sanders-Jackson, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Jiayu Zhou, College of Engineering
  • Amount: $9,990

"Evaluation of Motivational Text Messaging Interventions to Reduce Hopelessness Through Physical Activity in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease" 

  • Principal Investigator: Susan Dunn, College of Nursing
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Lorraine Robbins, College of Nursing; Sandi Smith, College of Communication Arts and Sciences; and Rajiv Ranganathan, College of Engineering
  • Amount: $9,987

Trifecta focuses on reducing health disparities and delivering health services to underserved communities through new communication and engineering technologies. The three projects funded in November 2015 examine the use and impact of social media and text messaging within the context of particular health issues and trends.

"Given the proliferation of technology in our society, it makes sense for researchers to look at the application of these technologies in helping to improve health and well-being," said Trifecta Director Shelia Cotten, Professor and Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Media and Information. "Trifecta projects provide new ways to approach intervention and to study the effects of technology use."

Funding for the projects was sponsored by MSU's Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and the Deans of the three Trifecta colleges. Funding was initially available for two pilot proposals. But after reviewers from the Trifecta colleges saw the caliber and scope of the proposals, funding was granted for three projects by the three Trifecta Deans.

"We're seeing an increasing number of high-quality proposals, indicating a greater engagement of our colleges working together," said Cotten, who also is the Director of the MSU-Sparrow Center for Innovation and Research. "Our hope is to see these projects lead to larger-scale initiatives that attract funding from external agencies."

Launched in 2013, Trifecta stimulates collaborations among the three MSU colleges to forge innovation research and outcomes at the intersections of their fields.

"Solving any complex problem in today's society requires an interdisciplinary approach," Cotten said. "Trifecta brings together faculty from a range of areas to find the best solutions."

For more information on this initiative, see the Trifecta website.

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East Lansing Film Festival to Feature Student Work

Posted on: November 3, 2015


This year’s East Lansing Film Festival (ELFF) will include the first MSU student-produced feature-length film, “(313) Choices,” as well as an animated trailer created by students in a School of Journalism class. The 18th annual East Lansing Film Festival runs Nov. 5-12 with showings at Studio C! Theatre, Wells Hall and the Hannah Community Center.

ELFF main 2A large-scale, collaborative project between MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Department of Theatre, and College of Music, “(313) Choices” is a contemporary human drama of interwoven stories about young adults faced with life-altering decisions set in and around Detroit (aka “the 313”). It will be shown Friday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. in Theater D of Wells Hall.

Created entirely by students, the film started as an original student play, which was adapted for the screen from the talents of more than 100 students who served as actors, directors, cinematographers, composers, art directors, writers, editors and producers and every aspect of the production. The film premiered this past summer at the Traverse City Film Festival.

“I very much enjoyed working on the film,” said Tyler Clifton, a Media and Information major, who served as one of the directors on the film. “At times, my crew consisted of more than 40 students and was run just like a professional film set, which was definitely the best learning experience I've ever had.”

The animated trailer, which will be shown in between all the films at the East Lansing Film Festival, was created by three students in the Journalism Storytelling Through Animation course taught by Stacey Fox, Transdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence in the School of Journalism.

Media and Information students Albert Urban and Christina Lovell collaborated with Studio Art major Tracy Strobl to produce the animation. They got together several times a week to sketch and throw around ideas while planning the trailer.

East Lansing Film Festival Trailer“The ELFF showcasing MSU student work is an awesome way for students to get their work out there,” Urban said. “I have met so many talented students with such creative ideas at MSU and it’s nice to see them have an opportunity to share their work on the big screen.”

There is no charge to see “(313) Choices.” However, for other viewings at Wells Hall, admission is $5 for general admission and $3 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the Wells Hall Box Office. No tickets will be sold online.

For films being played at Studio C!, general admission tickets are $10 and student tickets are $7. These prices are for all ELFF films with the exception of the Opening Night Film. Advanced tickets can be purchased online at or at the door.

For more information on the festival, see the East Lansing Film Festival website. For more background on the student-produced trailer, see the video interview with the creators of the ELFF trailer.

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Successful Premiere Held for Student-Produced Films

Posted on: October 28, 2015

The "Beneath the Banyan Tree" premiere Oct. 22 was a huge success with several students, faculty and family members there to see the worked produced by ComArtSci students during the "Beyond Bollywood: Taste of Indian Media" four-week study abroad trip this past summer, which was led by Amol Pavangadkar, Senior Producer and Teaching Specialist in the Department of Media and Information.

"I feel incredibly successful," said Media and Information senior Jonah Lang, who co-directed “Beneath the Banyan Tree. "Being able to go there and have all my expectations fulfilled, it was a very emotional and amazing experience."

Beyond Bollywoo filmingAfter the premiere of the 15-minute short film, a screening of the documentary produced by Media and Information senior Aaron Snyder was shown, followed by a dance video the students created and starred in during the trip.

"I thought the work they did was really amazing," said Media Sandbox Director David Wheeler, adding that experiences like this are transformative for the students themselves. "You can kind of see that happening. I think they go there as one person and come back another."

Besides Lang and Snyder, the other students who participated in the 2015 Beyond Bollywood: Taste of Indian Media study abroad, include: Carly Chaben, Lily Chatterjee, Elise Conklin, Chelsea Cowan, Michelai Graham, Jessica Niskar, Kody Peters and Junwei Tao.

Media and Information senior Bobby Taylor attended the premiere and said "it made me wish I studied abroad because it looked like a blast."

Bollywood Premiere

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