Digital Media Center now available to faculty, staff and students

The recently constructed Digital Media Center on the Luther College campus opened during J-term 2014 and has begun operation. Located on the lower level of Luther's Preus Library, this newly allocated area consists of a multimedia studio and multimedia lab.

Luther's LIS department conducted a five-month assessment that measured academic and administrative needs for digital media storage, creation and policies. The results indicated that existing equipment and physical spaces at Luther were not adequate to sustain the growing needs for digital media demands. Diane Gossman, Luther's director of user services, says these facilities are a result of that study.

Multimedia projects including video, audio and photography are increasingly becoming a part of academic work and Luther's administration and staff are using digital media more and more for communication, training and marketing. The Digital Media Center aims to relieve some of the strain through the new equipment, new spaces and additional staffing.

"Digital media plays a growing complementary role in our teaching and learning. This initial investment provides space, equipment and face-to-face support for students, faculty and staff to work together with digital media in rich and sophisticated ways. As technology changes with time and new and additional usage patterns emerge we expect to enhance and expand the center's capabilities with subsequent investment stages," said Paul Mattson, Luther executive director of Library and Information Services.

The multimedia studio is ideal for creating multimedia projects that include video, audio and photography. It can also be used as an interactive classroom, a hybrid classroom, or a location for meetings and interviews with remote participants using technologies such as Skype, Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting along with cameras and microphones.         

In the multimedia studio, LED lights are installed on a flexible, movable 9x12 foot ceiling grid, making them easy to adjust and move when recording. A green screen, among other backdrops, gives greater flexibility to photo and video shoots.  

The control booth, part of the multimedia studio, has a digital mixer with the ability to do multi-track recording and a video switcher for live production. This technology in the control booth allows those creating media projects to direct the production in the multimedia studio.

The multimedia lab consists of an open learning space with high-end Macs for editing photo, media and video projects. The lab is currently being used for Associate Professor of communication studies Mark Johns' Electronic Newsgathering course in which they're making use of the technology in the space, including the flat-panel displays that can project on any one of the seven computer screens. This allows students to show their work to the rest of the class and the professor to critique and discuss projects more easily. The number of workstations in the multimedia lab will grow by the start of the fall 2014 semester.

In the multimedia lab, a media conversion workspace has been set up where Luther faculty, staff and students can complete several types of media conversions including digitizing videos and uploading them to KATIE, Luther's web-based learning management system. Faculty can request certain videos be digitized and posted online instead of putting them on reserve at the library.

The multimedia lab is also home to the support desk, from which student workers provide expertise to those working in the space, as well as respond to campus-wide requests.

The hours of the multimedia lab correspond with the library hours; the multimedia studio is available with advance reservation. Support is available in the Digital Media Center when staffed and with advance reservation. With additional staffing beginning fall 2014, the intent is to have established hours of support in the Digital Media Center.

The new Digital Media Center opens doors for Luther to host journalism and video production classes; classes that have never before been offered. According to Matt Baumann, Luther's multimedia lead, "Now that we have laid a digital foundation, the possibilities are endless for what can be done here."