At Valparaiso University’s upcoming Graduate Digital Media Showcase, students’ Web design, video and audio production and editing, and other cutting-edge skills will be on display for all to see.

For the second time, students in Valparaiso University’s Master of Science in Digital Media program will present their final projects in the showcase. The presentations are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, May 14, in the communication building, Schnabel Hall.

Jennifer Ziegler, associate professor and graduate program director, said that the showcase fosters a different type of professional presentation than the traditional stand-and-deliver slide show. Each graduate student is on hand for a specific two-hour time slot the day of the presentation to answer visitors’ questions, but the presentations themselves run continuously in 10-minute loops on computer monitors for visitors to browse throughout the day. The presentations are produced with screen-recording software. Three Department of Communication faculty evaluate each project.

“This allows the presenters to interact directly with visitors, to answer questions and to demonstrate other elements of the project,” Ziegler said. “They can elaborate on details that wouldn’t otherwise be captured in a standard oral presentation.”

Those in attendance can watch full videos, listen to audio tracks, explore websites and browse interactive documents on their own.

The students in the 37-credit program complete two 3-credit, 700-level capstone graduate projects. The first Digital Media Showcase was in December, but this is the ninth round of presentations since the program’s inception. The students incorporate at least three forms of digital media in the projects from among Web design, digital video and audio, and desktop publishing.

The projects are either on behalf of a client or a creative effort on the part of the student himself or herself. The spring showcase presentations include:
* Original websites for new startups including a website about the organic food scene in Northern Indiana and a personal website for an aspiring beauty blogger.
* Redesign of existing websites for clients such as an optometrist and a local café.
* A documentary about the development of a student-run media bureau for Valparaiso University.

“We wanted to help students learn how to showcase their skills while demonstrating how they can provide real solutions for actual clients,” Ziegler said of the projects.

The Digital Media and related Sports Media master’s programs have grown steadily since they began in 2009, and now have about 50 students enrolled. Those students are drawn from populations that include media and communication professionals returning to the classroom to broaden their digital skills, and a substantial population of international students with a background in digital production, communication or journalism, as well as some recent graduates with related undergraduate majors. Sixteen students will receive their degrees this spring and summer, by far the largest graduating class.

And those graduates have found success in the job market. Graduates are working for ESPNU; in marketing for a Chicago law firm and a regional tourism commission; in independent video production; and as a campaign manager for a San Francisco firm that measures Web audiences.

Ziegler said that the Digital Media program will likely evolve to include more specific Web offerings, and expand to include 3-D and mobile applications, citing a project this spring that incorporates 3-D interior design through Google SketchUp.

Visit valpo.edu/grad/dm/index.php for more information on the program.

About Valparaiso University
Valparaiso University is a comprehensive independent Lutheran university with more than 4,000 students on its campus located in Northwest Indiana, an hour from Chicago. Valpo is a community of purpose-driven, service-minded and ethical individuals who embrace the pursuit of truth with freedom, humility and compassion. Valpo has been identified as one of the top master’s-level institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine for the past 22 years. Valparaiso University offers 110 undergraduate academic programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering and Nursing. Valpo also has a distinguished honors college, a School of Law and more than 40 degree and certificate programs in its Graduate School and Continuing Education Division. Valpo has been recognized for its commitment to outstanding teaching, preparing thoughtful leaders with strong cross-cultural skills and global awareness, and dedication to serving others.

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