Manship’s Digital Media Initiative embraces the new.
While other mass comm programs scramble to keep up in an era of apps, tweets, timelines, likes, pings and pokes, a team of scholars in the Manship School is taking the initiative in providing a blueprint for the future. With the rapid rise of digital, mobile and social media, audiences can access, share and even create media content when they want, how they want and wherever they want. The Digital Media Initiative (DMI) is addressing these monumental changes by taking steps to establish the Manship School as a digital leader.
Last year associate professor Lance Porter headed up a committee of Manship and LSU faculty who spent the entire academic year examining how industry and academia are addressing digital. Manship teams traveled to New York City and Washington, D.C. to meet with representatives from the New York Times, PepsiCo, Big Spaceship, 60 Minutes, Hearst, the USA Today, CBS News, NBC News, the Obama digital team, and the digital staff from Speaker of the House John Boehner among many others.
"We went in with a simple question. 'What should our students know about digital for you to want to hire them?,’" says Porter.
Between trips to New York and DC, the committee took a close look at how the top 178 mass comm programs were approaching digital and put together a "top ten" list of steps to establish the Manship School as a digital leader. At the top of the list was dedicating an official space to the study of digital media.
Still a work in progress, the DMI Lab is an open workspace within the Manship School where students, faculty and industry will collaborate on the study and development of the future of mass communication. Here students and faculty will work with industry to create digital, social and mobile platforms and to study these platforms' effects on audiences. Conceptualized as a combination work and research space, the lab features three walls covered in dry-erase paint, with the fourth wall featuring an Internet-enabled and Web conference-ready television featuring both Google TV and Apple TV platforms.
"In the past, when you would build a space like this, you would see a room full of computers. However, our focus is on a post-PC world, and mobile is the future," says Porter.
The DMI committee continues their work this year to revamp the Manship School's teaching, research and service. Currently, the DMI is working to add new digital coursework at the graduate and undergraduate level, to establish formal industry connections and to assist in recruiting and hiring digitally-oriented faculty.
Manship School faculty are embracing the DMI and have already voted to add a digital media/social media course into the undergraduate curriculum.