Tag Archives: media and information

Love of art and cartooning led to storied career for new director of MSU Media Sandbox

Posted on: April 18, 2016

gude-karl-2016-6344Although descended from a long line of engineers and an ambassador, Karl Gude drew his greatest influence from a 19th century Norwegian artist.

"Hans Gude was my great great grandfather," says Gude. "He was a famous landscape painter during the Romantic period. Me, I became a cartoonist and illustrator. Close enough."

While creating art is among Gude's talents, the newly appointed director of the MSU Media Sandbox in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences is considered a master of visual storytelling in journalism. In 2006, Gude joined the MSU faculty to spearhead the first information graphics program through the School of Journalism. Since then, he has led study abroad programs in Spain and has taught courses in creative thinking and problem solving, a topic he is passionate about and guiding principle of the Media Sandbox: an integrated media arts program of cinematic arts, game development, graphic design, web design, visual storytelling, 3D art and animation.

Before coming to MSU, Gude served as Director of Information Graphics at Newsweek magazine, the Associated Press and the National Sports Daily.



Gude and his staffs covered major news events, including seven presidential elections, wars, sporting events, natural disasters, science, medical and technical advancements and the attack on the World Trade Center.

 "This emotional story was unfolding down the street in our hometown," Gude says. "At Newsweek, we worked on the graphics through our shock and grief."

train big drawing girl299Gude has consulted with corporations, PR and news organizations, academic and scientific institutions and government agencies to create infographics. He also writes and draws a column for the Huffington Post, has given TEDx talks in Detroit and Lansing, and has spoken twice at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology conference. His drawings and cartoons have been widely published, including in the New York Times. He also has more than 5.3 millions views to his YouTube page where he demonstrates ways to use visualization software and more.

"I always thought I would be hired as an artist somewhere," Gude says. "I feel really lucky to have stumbled on a career in journalism, and to come in early in the growing field of infographics."

Pathway to the sandbox

Gude traces his path to journalism and into the Media Sandbox back to his early teens—the days when his father sent him to his room for causing trouble. Once there, he would pick up a pencil and paper and draw, triggering a calming effect he says gave him a sense direction for what he wanted to do in life.

After high school, Gude moved to South America to live with his maternal grandparents and teach English. When he turned 20, he came back to the U.S. and took an art course at a community college. He wound up doing carpentry, working in hardware stores and eventually moving to Vermont to work on a dairy farm. All the while, he kept drawing. After tending to cows and delivering calves for two years, he sold his truck and moved to New York City. It was 1979, he was 23, and he had $5,000 to try and make it as an artist and illustrator for comics and children's books.

"What else does a young man want to do other than that?" he laughs. "I told myself if my money ran out, I would move back to the farm. But I was driven by desperation and hunger and the fact that I had decided New York City was the coolest place on the planet."

Gude succeeded. He worked as a messenger delivering packages to make extra money, and colored in comic book covers for a publishing house. While there, a colleague told him about a journalism job. She gave him a slip of paper with a phone number and told him to call.

"I called, got an interview, and eventually this place called United Press International called me back," he says. "They hired me to help explain the news of the day by visualizing and drawing things—what they now call infographics."Karl-drawing-table-at-UPI-1979

Guide realizes his career is part happenstance and part ambition fueled by the drive to overcome the objections of those who devalued creative professions, like his father and some teachers. That realization, he says, is among the lessons he wants to convey to students, particularly those pursuing creative and innovative paths through MSU's Media Sandbox.

"It's important for students to know that all their skills and intelligences are valued," Gude says. "I don't want students to lose their uniqueness, to have it squeezed out of them. I want to do everything to help them find their individual voices, to understand what they are good at, and to forget those negative messages they may have received."

Gude lives in East Lansing with his wife, Dorsey Gude, who he met while working at the Associated Press and who works in development at MSU. His two 20-something sons have explored both science and the arts, with the older pursing environmental sustainability and the younger classical guitar and writing.

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Study Abroad Takes Students to Japan and South Korea

Posted on: June 16, 2015

Japan Study Abroad

The Department of Media and Information recently concluded its study abroad programs in Japan and South Korea, giving students the opportunity to speak with professionals in the game design industry and to experience a different culture.

The two Technology and Culture study abroad programs, led by Associate Professor Constantinos Coursaris and Assistant Professor Wietske Van Osch, offered students the opportunity to travel to Japan or South Korea or to attend both trips, which ran back to back.

Altogether, 24 students participated, and of those, nine students did both trips.

Media and Information junior Alberta Efaw was one of the students traveling to both Japan and South Korea. She said the experience reinvigorated her passion in game design.

"This really solidified my determination to become a game designer," Efaw said. "I think the most informational company visit was to iNiS. They gave a real look into what life is like for a game designer and really encouraged us to ask any and all questions we had about the field."

Japan study abroad 2Students visited three companies in Korea and six while in Japan, including video game developer iNiS.

"I got the chance to do a little bit of networking and watched several other students do the same," Efaw said. "I think that's something that probably doesn't get mentioned about this program enough, you meet all of these incredibly interesting people and you get to talk to them and form relationships that could help you when you are looking for jobs."

In addition to visiting companies, students also visited universities, shrines, castles and museums in several different cities and took in unique cultural experiences, like having a Kobe beef dinner and lunch at a maid café.

"One of the best parts of the trip was Dr. Coursaris and Dr. Van Osch,” Efaw said. “They were both incredibly dedicated to making sure we had a great time and learned as much as we could."

The Technology and Culture study abroad programs are the only faculty led programs from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences that travel to Asia.

"There are tremendous intrinsic experiences that the Technology and Culture programs afforded our students," Coursaris said. "There has consequently been personal growth for both faculty and students and we are overwhelmed by the student's appreciation."

Japan Study Abroad

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Ratan Receives AT&T Instructional Technology Award

Posted on: May 19, 2015


Rabindra "Robby" Ratan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Information, is the recipient of the 2015 Michigan State University AT&T Award of Excellence for Best Blended Course for his Science Fiction, Communication & Technology course, TC 401, which examines the ways in which science fiction portrays the use of communication technologies.

During the course, themes from science fiction works are analyzed in an effort to better understand our own technology use and the ways in which communication technology plays an important role in society.

Zoom videoconferencing was the primary technology used in this synchronous online course. Through the use of Zoom, Ratan and the students watched a science fiction film together each week. With Zoom, Ratan could tell at a glance whether students were engaged in the class or were multitasking, which was discouraged. However, students were encouraged to use Zoom’s text chat feature for back-channel communication while watching the film and during class discussions. This allowed students to engage with the material in real time through interactions with each other.

Robby Ratan with ATT Award"I feel honored to win this award and grateful to the award sponsor,  committee and MSU for supporting faculty using new methods and technologies to enhance their teaching," Ratan said. "I think that synchronous (real-time) interaction between students and with instructors is very important, especially in online classes, and this course provides the opportunity to examine how new interaction tools contribute to student learning."

Ratan is teaching the course again this summer and in the fall. During the fall semester, the course will be taught in a classroom setting, but the technology will continue to be used in innovative ways to encourage constant communication.

Initiated by IT Services and funded by AT&T, the annual AT&T Faculty-Staff Competition in Instruction Technology Awards program recognizes outstanding contributions to the use and development of informational technology for teaching and learning at MSU and encourages best practices in the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.

“The awards help spread effective practice and share the outstanding work of our colleagues,” said Brendan Guenther, Director of IT Services Teaching and Learning.

Faculty and staff are nominated for the awards by MSU's campus community or by self-nomination in three categories: fully online course, blended course and technology-enabled innovation.

The 2015 awards were presented at an award luncheon April 16 at the Kellogg Center.

To learn more about the awards, see the AT&T Faculty-Staff Competition in Instruction Technology Awards website.

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Graduate Students Present Posters at Research and Arts Forum

Posted on: May 18, 2015

Hyeonju Kim presenting poster to Professor Saleem Alhabash

The departments of Advertising + Public Relations (AD + PR) and Media and Information (MI) paired up this spring to give their graduate students an opportunity to present scholarly and applied work during the AD + PR & MI Research and Arts Forum.

"It was truly a celebration of applied academic excellence by students in our two departments, and an opportunity to share the great work with the broader community," said Constantinos Coursaris, Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Information and in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations.

Before master’s students can graduate, they must demonstrate to an external audience that they have mastered course content and are able to apply that content in a research or professional setting. One way to do this is by a written thesis (Plan A). The other option (Plan B) is to do a poster presentation.

"The Plan B poster session was held for the first time in December 2014," said Linda Good, Professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations. "It gives students the opportunity to demonstrate that they can apply what they have learned."

Students who chose to present posters at the AD + PR & MI Research and Arts Forum did so either on a research project or an internship experience.

Faculty judges reviewed the posters and queried students about their posters. Alumnus Derek Mehraban at Ingenex Digital provided awards for the top Advertising + Public Relations posters, and the Department of Media and Information provided the award for the top MI poster.

"I think it's a great event and I was very impressed by the quality of the posters," said Anna McAlister, Assistant Professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations. "It also gives other students the opportunity to take a look at work the graduate students have done."

The 29 Advertising + Public Relations students who participated were broken into four categories for judging: ADV research, ADV internship, PR research and PR internships. The three participating Media and Information students competed against each other in one category.

Gold winners in each category received $50 awards and silver winners received a Starbucks gift card.

"This experience was great because it provides closure to the program," said graduate student Chelsea Stein.

See all the photos from this event posted to the AD + PR & MI Research and Arts Forum photo album.

The following are the list of winners in each category:

ADV Internship

  • Gold winner – Brian Burgoyne
  • Silver winner – Xing Li

ADV Research

  • Gold winner – Aina Inagaki
  • Silver winner – Hui Zeng

PR Internship

  • Gold winner – Tongxi Wang
  • Gold winner – Wen-Mo Yuann
  • Silver winner – Hyeonju Kim
  • Silver winner – Xu Xu

PR Research

  • Gold winner – Moli Jin

Media and Information

  • Gold winner – Chris Bachelder
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Graduate Students Receive Top Prize for Big Idea

Posted on: May 13, 2015


Two MSU graduate students from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences earned a top prize in a competition for high-impact social innovations by putting the power of SMS (short message services), or texting, into the hands of small-scale farmers in Uganda.

Linlin Liang and Daniel Ninsiima, both master’s degree students in the Department of Media and Information, took first place in the Food System Innovations category of the 2014-2015 Big Ideas Contest at the University of California Berkeley. Their project, "m-Omulimisa SMS Services," enables rural farmers to interact with agricultural extension agents through text messages and a web-based database in their local languages. Liang and Ninsiima attended the award ceremony at UC Berkeley May 5 and will receive a $9,000 prize.

"We were both surprised when we heard we won," Liang said. "I've been passionate about international development for years and have seen how people can benefit from technology and Internet use. We're both grateful for the support we've received for making this project sustainable."

Liang first teamed up with Ninsiima in September 2014 when she heard about his efforts to help Ugandan farmers use technology to consult with extension agents about the effects of climate change. Ninsiima grew up in Uganda and was familiar with the environmental, economic, technological and language barriers facing small farmers. Many farmers lack the language or technical skills to use laptops or most mobile agricultural services, and Internet access is spotty in remote areas. Also, extension agents have limited opportunities and resources to meet with farmers, making text communications a stronger option.

big-idea-female farmer using the service copy"The platform allows farmers to seek advice on certain farming practices, or report diseases in crops and animals they might be seeing," Liang said. "Extension agents can then answer farmers' questions on a web-based database and communicate back to farmers using the local language."

The platform went through initial field-testing last summer in Kakiri, sub-country, Wakiso district, central Uganda. About 30 farmers and several extension agents were trained to use this SMS and web-based platform and immediately began exchanging real-world questions and answers.

Liang and Ninsiima currently are preparing for additional field-testing in Uganda this August.

"Our ultimate goal is to create a community that generates local agricultural content and share the data with an open-source approach," Liang said. "The platform will be open source, so the more people who use it – from farmers to nonprofits – the more useful and sustainable it will be."

The student-led project received support from faculty and advisers across several disciplines, including faculty from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, the MSU Global Center for Food Systems Innovation, and MSU Borlaug Higher Education for Agricultural Research and Development Program.

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Students Complete IT Projects for Local Clients

Posted on:

Students from Associate Professor Constantinos capstone course ITM 444

Groups of students pursuing a minor in Information Technology were busy again this past semester in the capstone course, ITM 444, creating high-level technology products for local businesses and organizations.

The course – taught by Media and Information faculty members Associate Professor Constantinos Coursaris and Assistant Professor Wietske Van Osch – gives students the opportunity to work with local clients to create websites, databases and digital marketing strategies.

capstone-class-f_DSC0580"The development and refinement of skills in the student's primary area of professional interest as it relates to I.T. is the most rewarding takeaway from the course," Coursaris said. “And, for the majority of the students, this is the first time they have worked with people outside of their domain (in cross-functional teams), which is great preparation for similar situations in their future workplaces.”

Clients interested in working with the students must submit an application and are hand selected. Each year, new clients are considered as well as returning clients, to give students a range of companies in which to work with.

This year, the course took on 14 clients, including:

  • Resurrection School, Lansing, Mich.
  • Street Rod Foundation Inc.
  • VIM Magazine
  • SpartanWebsiteDesign.com
  • Detroit DNA 313
  • PrivateDisneyVilla.com
  • Oakland County I.T. Department
  • Michigan Division of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing
  • Michigan Department of Civil Rights Community Relations
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division
  • Institute of Water Research
  • Japan Center for Michigan Universities
  • MSU Learning and Assessment Center
  • MSU ID&R Centers

Jim Taylor, from the Oakland County I.T. Department, has been a client for the past 11 years.

"Over the past 11 years, we have implemented almost everything from the program," Taylor said.

This year, Oakland I.T. challenged students to help expand one of their brands to reach a national audience.

"We wanted to expand our Government to Government marketplace across the U.S.," Taylor said.

Along with the capstone giving students hands-on experience, for some it also leads to a job after graduation.

"About one student per year goes on to work for the client upon the course's completion," Coursaris said. "While that may not seem like a lot, far more students obtain jobs as a result of their capstone experience, and the skills further developed during this service learning opportunity."

Clients like the Oakland County I.T. Department have taken advantage of the opportunity to hire students that have worked on projects in the course.

"We hired two students last year,” Taylor said, “and they are doing great.”


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