The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has been selected to join an elite collaboration of leading universities and high-tech companies to explore innovative ways to teach and learn using emerging media applications.
Pictured left to right: Dr. Roger Brown, Dr. Larry Arnold, Dr. Allen C. Meadors, Bob Caton, George Johnson, Dr. John Labadie and Lawrence Locklear
New Media Centers is a non-profit organization that includes founding corporate members such as Adobe, Apple Computer, Inc. and Macromedia, Inc. Sustaining and core members include Compaq, Avid, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, MagicBeanStalk, Sunrise Media LLC, WebCT, Mindcrossing and Lynda.com.
UNCP joins a distinguished list of members that includes Dartmouth College, Amherst College, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University and Yale University. UNCP is the first and only university in North Carolina to be admitted as a member of New Media Centers.
The project, hailed by the university for its cutting edge educational benefits, is funded in part through a private grant from Eagle Distributing Company in Lumberton.
Named the Media Integration Project, it was initiated on campus through the collaboration of three faculty members from different departments. Nearly five years ago, Dr. John Labadie of the Art Department, Dr. Larry Arnold of the Music Department and George Johnson of Mass Communications began discussing the use of technology in their work.
"Their discussions grew into joint projects that include the production of animated instructional programs combining their three disciplines," said UNCP Director of Development Lynda Parlett, who raised funds for the project. "These programs were very well received by the students and led the faculty to explore more innovative methods of teaching through the use of digital art, music and animation techniques."
The project puts UNCP on the cutting edge of technological innovations in media.
"The Internet, digital television and broadband communications are changing the mass media landscape," Mr. Johnson said. "Courses like Media Integration will prepare our students to work in this new landscape."
Other UNCP faculty and staff members from across the campus have begun to gather regularly with the project faculty in a lunchtime discussion group called "Digital Soup and Sandwich."
"Students and faculty will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with other members at face-to-face events as well as through online discussions and collaborations with other campus centers," Dr. Labadie said. "Faculty will receive training at the annual conference through hands-on instruction provided by leading experts in the field."
"An additional advantage will be the opportunity to test advanced technology products before they become available to the public," he said.
The primary focus of the project team has been the enhancement of the educational experiences of their students. UNCP's center is unique in its student-centered work. Students have been increasingly exposed to various forms of creative technology and will be expected to have an understanding of its application in the workplace.
"Long experience has shown that successful implementation of New Media increases student motivation and accomplishment," Dr. Arnold said. "Techniques and concepts of new media will be increasingly important, if not essential, for all students to use for communication in their careers."
The selection process is quite competitive but the quality and potential of UNCP's media integration efforts won over the selection committee. Nonetheless, there was another obstacle for UNCP to face, the annual membership fee of $2,000.
A corporate sponsorship was needed to assist the university with their quest and Eagle Distributing Company in Lumberton stepped in to help. Bob Caton, CEO of Eagle, learned of the project and immediately recognized the tremendous benefits to the students.
"We are in the century of technology,"said Mr. Caton. "Through my association with UNCP on the Board of Trustees, I felt strongly that the New Media Centers membership would be an opportunity for the University to stand out from the other 15 UNC schools. This project will give UNCP an undeniable edge in luring top students from all over the country."
Through Eagle Distributing Company's sponsorship, the university not only has become a member of the NMC but the three founding faculty members and university web publisher Lawrence Locklear recently attended an international conference at California State University, Monterey Bay.
At the conference, the UNCP members met and exchanged ideas not only with representatives of other institutions but also with technological groundbreakers such as the founders of Yahoo. These affiliations may lead to tremendous opportunities for UNCP students to include collaborative projects and internships.
Senior UNCP administrators praised the project.
"I am very pleased that UNC Pembroke will join the relatively small group of colleges and universities selected as sites for a New Media Center," said Dr. Roger Brown, UNCP's Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. "The very essence of university education and research must include the emerging variety of communications and artistic media that will shape our society and global dialogue in the 21st Century."
Chancellor Allen Meadors is quite proud of the university's selection but even more proud of the efforts of the faculty.
"Dr. Labadie, Dr. Arnold and Mr. Johnson provide wonderful examples of the hard work that UNCP faculty engage in to the benefit of our students," Dr. Meadors said. "Our membership in the New Media Centers will not only link our students to the latest technological advances and the companies that create them, it will put the university, our students and the phenomenal work that goes on here in the spotlight nationally and internationally."
The impact of UNCP's membership will be significant.
Digital samples of works by UNCP's Media Integration Project may be viewed at www.uncp.edu/media_integration.
"The UNCP Media Integration Project has taken a leading role in building a working information technology context that has now allowed our academic community to connect, in an unprecedented way, with creative, highly technical, experienced colleagues in universities worldwide," said Media Integration Project director Dr. John Labadie. "Our productive and highly functional relationships with well-informed members from institutions as diverse as the University of Calgary, Stanford, MIT, California State University - Sonoma, and Bowling Green State University have already added immensely to our store of knowledge about the uses and implementation of new media.