Terry Heifetz says he uses the lab to teach students about using videos to share news with an audience, and how to put those videos together.
“Video is hot right now,” says Heifetz, Instructor of Telecommunications at BSU. “In the old days, when we had a standard, traditional TV studio, you would need eight to ten people to operate it, and that would be hard. If the students’ environment needed eight to ten to do a podcast, that would be hard too. But now, for our publications that we have, we can do a small video podcast that requires only two or three people because of the automation. Few people can do a lot of work without getting that huge crew together.”
“We’ve had some major broadcast companies look at our students and say, hey, do you know how to use an automated control room system? We have students who are learning how to do that. A company will ask, do you understand the concept of how this works? And whether they use the Grass Valley system or one of their competitors, the concepts are the same. That makes them that much more employable.”
– Terry Heifetz, Instructor of Telecommunications at BSU
Metzger says when instructors like Heifetz train students in the Unified Media Lab, these students ultimately become attractive to hiring news employers.
“At Ball State, we’ve been able to provide technology that students come out armed with to employers,” she says. “Everyone is telling their own story, and they may not have a full blown studio, but if they have a smart phone, they can do a pretty good job. We’re trying to teach from one end of the spectrum to the other in this facility.”
Jerry Pierce, Technician for the Department of Journalism at BSU, says the biggest challenge the lab faces is getting more students outside of journalism to use it.
He says the broadcasting equipment was integrated within a good ecosystem, and is accessible to anyone who wants to share a story with an audience.
“You’ve got your broadcast group using it, because that’s what they do, but we’ve looked at who are the other groups that can use this?” Pierce says. “The broadcast group is mainly at night, so it’s just finding groups that can use it during the day to get maximum use of it… Our whole ecosystem goes from Grass Valley to Avid to iMAX. It’s a good ecosystem, it’s just expanding them into that part of the system and to say hey, you can do stuff with your video in [Adobe] Premier, we can convert it and get it used on the system and play it back.”
Tips to Maximizing the Usage of Your College’s Media Lab Space
1) Put students’ needs first
Pierce says colleges should research students’ needs when utilizing a media lab space.
He says colleges should ask questions like, “what tools do they need to help them create and produce content across the different platforms?” and, “what kind of collaborative space can get them to work together?”