Done in 60 Seconds: Podcasts for Media Design Students

Mass Communications
Randy Livingston


The objective of this project was to explore new methods of audio and video podcasting and deliver video and audio podcasts that cover key topics in Media Design. Topics include graphics lab procedures and project-specific instruction in Macintosh OS X, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe InDesign.

Through the Summer and Fall of 2006, I produced video, audio, and enhanced podcasts for our Media Design students. These podcasts are now an integral part of the learning experience for GRAF 3910 and GRAF 3950. The Podcasts are delivered via iTunes and the class Web site. Students view and listen in their Web browser and/or upload to an iPod or other such player. With 24/7 easy access to these tutorials, students have an immediate resource for help and instruction. These tutorials support and enhance the efforts of our lab assistants and reinforce Media Design instructors' lectures. The podcasts offer a much-needed knowledgebase that is available, timely, relevant, and specific.

To capture full-motion digital video and audio, I utilized Ambrosia Software's Snapz Pro for Macintosh. Snapz Pro allows one to record the action on screen. An instructor is able to work on the computer while narrating the process. For audio input, I used a Snowball USB microphone (Blue, Inc.). I used the Animation codec for video compression and IMA 4:1 audio compression. Quicktime Pro was used for some editing and to insert title screens. Quicktime movies were then imported into Apple Computer's Garageband. Gargageband has proved to be an excellent tool for creating audio, enhanced, and video podcasts. Additional voice-over, sound track editing, intro and outro music, and other sound effects were added in Garageband. Artwork, chapter markers and titles, and URL links (for enhanced podcasts) are also made possible by Garageband. Enhanced podcasts, indeed, offer great benefits for learning. The finished podcast is then transferred to Apple's iWeb. In iWeb, I added podcast titles and descriptions and uploaded to my personal .Mac server. Podcasts are then integrated with my GRAF class Web site that utilizes .Mac Groups. (As of this writing, MTSU has not yet finalized the agreement with Apple to implement iTunesU. ITunesU offers free server space and other tools for presenting podcasts for education.)


My podcasts have been utilized by other MTSU instructors and their students. They offer students very specific instruction in a portable broadcast format. These podcasts have proved to be a great way to deliver one-on-one teaching and assist instructors with topics that require repetition. In addition, this medium accommodates the needs of a large group—the interactive visual learner. The video tutorial accomplishes much of what an instructor is not able to through one-time lectures and demonstration. Initial student, lab assistant, and instructor feedback have confirmed the success of this project. This project will also be posted to the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching


Video Tutorials for Media Design

Mass Communication
Randy Livingston


The objective of this project was to deliver Quicktime video tutorials that cover key topics in Media Design. Topics include graphics lab procedures and project-specific instruction in Macintosh OS X, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and QuarkXpress. The proposed Quicktime training modules were:

  • Using Suitcase to Manage Fonts
  • Scanning and Resolution (Photoshop)
  • Printing from QuarkXpress
  • How to Build an Illustration (Illustrator)
  • Flightchecking and Packaging a Job for Print (QuarkXpress)

Media Design students are visually oriented and learn by seeing and then doing. Indeed, most students learn more quickly and comprehensively by seeing a process demonstrated repetitively and then actively engaging in the process. The Quicktime format is a portable and flexible medium that allows the learner to set his or her own pace, i.e., pause, replay, and skip content. The project is delivered on universal DVD format. Students are given two DVD's as an accessible resource for help and instruction. These tutorials support and enhance the efforts of our lab assistants and reinforce Media Design instructors' lectures. The DVD's, indeed, deliver a much-needed knowledgebase that is available, timely, relevant, and specific.

Full-motion digital video and audio voice-over was captured by way of Ambrosia Software's Snapz Pro for Macintosh. Snapz Pro allowed me to record the action on screen. I was able to work on the computer while narrating the process. This offers a kind of computer software teaching that is unmatched by any other method. Snapz Pro offers several different algorithms for professional audio and video compression. The ubiquitous Quicktime format has been used to deliver crisp and clear cross-platform audio and video. I used iMovie and Final Cut Pro for video editing. From inception to delivery of the DVD's, this project required 8 weeks. A significant amount of that time was spent in experimenting with compression algorithms to determine the best file size and quality. There was also much work involved in research and acquiring hardware required for audio input (Mac-compatible professional microphones and pre-amplifiers).


These Quicktime video tutorials have delivered a learning resource that all instructors may utilize in the classroom and in the laboratory. The DVD's offer the student very specific instruction in a portable format. Quicktime video has proven to be a great way to deliver one-on-one teaching and assists instructors with topics that require repetition. In addition, this medium is accommodating the needs of a large group—interactive visual learners. The video tutorials accomplish much of what instructors are not able to accomplish through one-time lectures and demonstrations. A survey was used to gather qualitative and quantitative data and opinions. The success of this project has inspired me to expand learning topics and make more DVD's. Before continuing with production, I will be conducting additional usability studies and testing with students and lab assistants.


Microcomputer and Publication Design Restructuring

Mass Communication
Ray Wong

Ray Wong's project involves updating, revising, and streamlining current teaching materials used in GRAF 395/Microcomputer Design and GRAF 401/Publication Design to reflect the changing needs of publication design and design for the World Wide Web and other multi-media formats.

The project updated, revised and streamlined current teaching materials used in GRAF 395 - Microcomputer Design and GRAF 401 - Publication Design to reflect the changing needs of publication design, design for the World Wide Web and other multi-media formats. The Microcomputer class content has been restructured to provide a broader scope of information for MTSU students wishing to learn and understand the process of design for newspapers, magazines, Web, advertising and presentations. The Publication Design class concentrates solely on advanced design methods for newsletters, newspapers, magazines and the Web.

The project designed course materials flexible enough for students to obtain the material on a server or as printed documents. Much of this material eventually will be available as reference on the Web as PDF or a similar file format. In addition to the formal design lectures and publication projects in these classes, the students also learn how industry standard applications such as QuarkXPress, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe PageMill and Marcomedia Freehand are used as tools in the process of design. Self-guided tutorials were developed for the students to learn apply these tools.

Specifically, the project updated the existing generic tutorials used by students learning QuarkXPress, Freehand and Photoshop as they relate to publication design on the Macintosh operating system. The tutorials are geared specifically to students using the technology in Mass Comm. 112, the School of Journalism and Strategic Media graphics lab. The revised tutorials also focus on projects reflecting authentic publication design situations. Updating the tutorials will be a ongoing due to continuing upgrades of existing applications.

The tutorial project used current course materials from the generic QuarkXPress Tutorial Guide and Macromedia Freehand Tutorial. Via the information and procedures explained in the guide, the tutorials were revamped to include updated procedures as well as information related to its application in the graphics lab. Instead of using the examples in the tutorial, screen captures on dialog boxes pertaining to the graphics lab, digital illustrations and other updated material for the applications were added to enhance and stimulate learning.

Since the approvals for the new software and hardware from the Instructional Technology Fee pools did not occur until Fall 1998 additional refinements to the instructional material will be needed. The applications affected are QuarkXPress 3.32 to 4.01, Freehand 5.5 to 8.0 and Photoshop 3.01 to 5.0.

Additionally, current teaching materials used in lectures—layouts, type sheets, designs, tearsheets, design examples and other aids—were developed for an expanded database of information to draw upon in teaching graphic communication and design. This data base supports the student's ability to obtain material on an as-needed basis on the graphics server. The project also created new material for teaching information design for the World Wide Web for both Microcomputer Design and Publication Design. In addition to lecture materials, tutorials for Web-based design - HTML, PageMill, creating Web graphics and implementing Java Script - were developed.

Web-based design materials from the Web, CD-ROMs and other printed materials are available for teaching an information-based Web course. Unfortunately, none do a succinct, thorough job of explaining the process. Therefore, the instruction of the Web component of Publication Design came from culling specific examples and procedures from existing media that best articulate or demonstrate the design process.


Produced a set of CAI (computer assisted instruction) modules for self-paced instruction in English grammar specific to the needs of media writers. The modules are being used in JOUR 171 - Media Writing as well as other writing courses in the College of Media and Entertainment.

Mass Communication
Gary R. Wolf

The purpose of the grant was to explore the possibility of using computer-assisted instruction as a remedy for the poor grammar skills of some students who are not adequately prepared to take JOUR 171, Media Writing, which is required of all majors in the College of Media and Entertainment. The goal is a not-for-credit grammar refresher clinic that students could complete at their own pace. Ideally, it would be interactive, providing students correction for their mistakes and examples of correct usage. In addition, students in the College and University generally could have access to the online clinic for help with specific grammar points. The effort to implement such a system was twofold: to explore the technical feasibility of such a clinic and to begin writing the content. A study of existing programs was made to see what others are doing in this regard. It was discovered that online writing labs (OWLS) are common. A variety of sources showed that at least 225 university writing centers provide some form of online assistance to student writers. A half dozen of the more popular sites were visited, and an email correspondence was carried out with the directors of three of them. An OWL is typically a Web page and an email address. In most cases, the OWLs are dedicated to answering specific questions from students -- an email version of handling queries by phone or in person. Typically, they are handled by English Departments through established writing centers available to all students at a campus. (Middle Tennessee State University has a Writing Center, although it currently has no online capability.) Some Web-based OWLs also provide exercises on specific language e points and Internet links to online writing resources or other OWLS. (Indeed, such links appear to be encouraged, disregarding whether the ultimate users of the OWL are students at the campus supporting the OWL.) The Purdue University OWL, for instance, was one of the earliest online writing labs and is mentioned by several as the pre-eminent example. Several other OWLs use it as a primary link. It lists over 100 documents providing tips and practice. It also points interested students to resources available elsewhere online, including language reference works, style and editing guides, and special interest topics (such as writing for children or for business and technical purposes, but not for media writing). While the handouts begin to address the present concern with providing grammar instruction, none provides a comprehensive grammar refresher. Nor was any online site discovered that approaches the subject from the unique perspective of media writing. The grammar instruction is invariably geared to English Department needs and, while useful, is only partly applicable to media writing and sometimes in conflict with it. In many cases, grammar instruction is geared toward K- 12 or English as a Second Language.

Given that online writing labs are a well-accepted if not completely developed means of providing students help with grammar, implementing such a system at MTSU might be a wise first step toward the goal of computer-assisted grammar instruction, In addition to not reinventing a proven wheel, this first step would necessitate less immediate need to learn complex programming software. The content of the OWL beyond the help function could be designed to be compatible with both the redesign of JOUR 171 and the more complex goal of providing an interactive, comprehensive refresher course in grammar -- something that appears not to be available anywhere on the World Wide Web This suggests the project is important and needed, but also that it is perhaps a grander plan than can be immediately accomplished. To this end, an MTSU OWL web page is under construction and grammar clinic content is being written. The web page will explain what the online writing tab can do for students and provide links to other online resources identified in the course of the past semester's research as most relevant and useful. When it is ready to go online, an email address (eg., will be requested and publicized. As suggested, grammar clinic content will dovetail with the revision of JOUR 171, which is being tailored not to specific forms (news stories, press releases, advertisements, etc.) and modes (print, television, radio) of media writing, but toward basic media writing skills (brevity, clarity, accuracy, the handling of quotes, numeracy, etc.). This will not only make it more useful to the College of Media and Entertainment but relevant to other MTSU students as well. Ultimately, it will also provide a true tutorial rather than a help-fine only or a grammar reference, many of which are already available online. A testing function will eventually be included to help the student identify problem areas and be referred to specific portions of the tutorial. The OWL will be functional by the beginning of the Fall 1997 semester. Effort will be made to coordinate it with the English Department's Writing Center, which already fulfills the help function off-line, but it may be primarily publicized through t he twenty JOUR 171 sections as a trial. A course outline for the grammar clinic has been written and several of its units completed. Depending on the author's ability to write more of it during the summer and convert it to a Web page design, at least a portion of it should also be available during the Fall semester if not by the beginning of classes.