Textbook supplement projects generate revenue while providing students experience

Topic: College of Fine Arts

April 10, 2009

Instead of spending endless hours buried in traditional college textbooks, some Ball State University students are making their own.

Through the university's Institute for Digital Entertainment and Education (IDEE) students have helped film, edit and produce digital supplements for textbooks as well as educational videos. The initiative promotes development of the critical high-tech skills they need to excel in the workplace and provides them an educational experience wedded to a professional atmosphere, said Rodger Smith, IDEE director.

"In return the student gets not only an education, but also a professional credit for their resume, and important and valuable marketplace contacts," he added. "Ball State gets a portion of the cost of the project back from the vendor. It is a winning situation for the student, for the faculty mentor and for the university."

According to Smith, the projects have yielded results exceeding everyone's expectations. So far, outside partnerships with publishers have generated more than $100,000 for Ball State. That doesn't include future royalties. Based on past successes, IDEE will continue to develop outside partnerships that benefit IDEE students and expand Ball State's contributions to the community.

The range of material produced is quite broad, and the money is just a small part of the cost of providing the experience, Smith said.

"Revenue is not profit, it is a contribution," he said.

One student team created five educational videos that demonstrate how to apply makeup for stage and for film using various techniques. Another extensive project saw students team up with Indianapolis-based Calamari Productions to produce 26 segments about the juvenile justice system.

"Calamari Productions is the only company with permission granted by the Indiana Supreme Court to film behind the doors of the juvenile justice system, so that experience was certainly one-of-a-kind," said Smith who also had a student coordinate hundreds of interviews for the creation of dozens of videos augmenting a psychology textbook.

The projects allow students to hone technology skills while getting a glimpse into various professions. In some cases it allows them to sense how they might fit into their chosen fields and learn the language of a particular work place. They are comfortable in the job interview and they know what to expect, Smith said.

"I've learned as much about child development and criminal justice as I have about editing from my work on educational videos," said student Jake Milliner, a senior majoring in telecommunications. "I've also learned that video is a powerful tool for teachers."

IDEE is administered by Ball State's Center for Media Design (CMD) and is part of the $20 million Digital Exchange initiative funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. to enhance the university's innovative, immersive and educational experiences for students in digital technology. CMD also oversees the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts and Animation, and the Institute for Digital Fabrication.

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