Students experience convergence first hand

By Marisa Gallelli
October 14, 2004

Cecelia Francisco

The Senior Seminar in Convergence is a course that strives to integrate the traditional forms of media communications and ultimately create a more thorough and interactive project with the intentions of appealing to diverse audiences.

The course’s instructor, English and Communication professor Dr. Harold William Halbert, feels that the class is incredibly difficult but he has a tremendous amount of respect for the students that take this class. “This class extends the scope of convergence; it moves beyond the personal desire of the student and what they want to do, helping them to shape how people see their community. It is an exciting opportunity for our students to find new ways of telling stories,” Halbert said.

Ryan Norris, a senior English and communication major, acknowledges that the class is a challenge; however, he believes the extra workload to be beneficial. “It is worth the effort, it’s not just a class from 10:55 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.- it is always on our plates all semester, the goal is not just to work till 12:10, it is to work till our projects are done.”

Halbert discussed the background of the class. “This course is in response to the changing nature of communications in general and on a business level. Communication mediums are blending together as different media companies merge creating new ways of delivering a message. On a purely message point of view, the new medias working together will give communicators entirely new ways of writing stories,” Halbert said.

Norris understands the impact that convergence has made in the field of communications as well as the Department of English and Communication. “It is very good for today’s communications. Every media source today, especially with the Internet being so popular, has been converging: audio, video, images, radio and on-air broadcast. The class is about the closest thing to an honors course in the communications department; it is what those in the communications department would call a senior capstone course,” Norris said.

The course debuted last fall, and with student feedback, this year’s course objectives are more refined. However, Halbert believes that last year’s students “appreciated the experience, although they felt like they were worked to death, and they wished that they had gotten some more theoretical background.”

Senior English and communication major Rich Magda took part in the first convergence class. Magda’s group produced the story “Emoticon,” which was featured in the Fall 2003 issue of the Woodcrest Magazine in addition to creating a website and DVD that featured the short film. Magda said that convergence goes beyond the technicalities of combining different types of media there is a complexity behind its premise. “What we learned most importantly is that convergence is based in theory, and its practice involves much more than the smushing together of media forms,” Magda said.

The overall consensus with this class is that, although there is a lot of work involved within this course, it is very well worth the effort and the quantity of work that each student puts into the course. The amount of experience that the students have acquired, and will continue to gain out of this course, will be valuable to them after graduation. The students will also have portfolio pieces that demonstrate their ability to work in a converged environment.

Posted to the web by Cecelia Francisco

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Marisa Gallelli

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