Telecommunications major Anna Appel, ’12, wore many hats for several months as part of an immersive learning class that produced a series of high-definition videos for the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD).

Appel, who hails from Kendallville, Indiana, served as variously as director, assistant director, and production assistant on the 9-month project during which students used high-definition video technology to highlight Indiana road trip ideas in creative ways. Under the mentorship of telecommunications faculty Chris Flook and Rodney Smith, 15 graduate and undergraduate students developed the promotional spots for, IOTD’s website.

“I worked hard in each position to make sure that I brought my A-game to the project,” Appel says. “All of us wanted the end result to be the best it could be.”

Like several of her Building Better Communities Fellows teammates, Appel was at times stunned by the variety of vacation spots across her native state. The students shot the short commercials at several sites, including the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in northwest Indiana, the communities of Bloomington and Richmond, as well as Holiday World and Surfin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Ind.

“Although I knew Indiana had dunes, I had never been there and was absolutely amazed when I saw them for the first time,” Appel recalls. “I also didn’t realize that Bloomington and Richmond are such historical communities with so many little shops and businesses.”

Appel believes her participation in the immersive learning class was full of challenges that forced her to work outside her comfort zone.

“I grew professionally because I had to meet the expectations of our client. Our job was to present a finished product that they can use. And personally, it allowed me to work with a very good team. Getting into a car and crisscrossing the state with a bunch of people I hardly knew was something different for me. It made us to come together as a solid team to get the job done.”

Flook says Appel and the student team gained a great experience working in the real world.

“The students were in charge of getting the project off the ground, scheduling shoots, traveling to various parts of the state, and then coming back to edit a finished product. I think they worked incredibly hard to create videos that we are all proud of,” says Flook.

“Anna is an excellent director—she led her team quite well, but did so in a positive manner. She was also very flexible when needed, and was more than willing to take advice and alter her project when necessary."