Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the barrier once separating the dungeon of the old Mac Lab and the office space next door has been torn down, thus bringing in a new era for the Integrated Marketing Communications program.
“I feel like our students deserved to learn from technology that will enable them to be better at their tasks,” said Dr. Amy Jones. “Even though we had the Macs that we needed, and the camera equipment that we needed, the facility was still lacking. It kept us from doing our jobs to teach our students to the best of our ability.”
Not only was technology limited, but space for the growing IMC program was becoming a concern as well. With a small contingent of students giving life to the program just three years ago, the major has grown to encompass over 80 students this fall.
“The classroom was too small, so we couldn’t teach the class sizes we needed to,” said Amy Jones. “We didn’t have the space to bring everybody together, and so we faced challenges where students would try to hide behind the computer screens. It’s really important to be able to spend time with other students that are in this program and be able to learn and throw ideas around, and we didn’t really have enough room for that.”
The renovated facility in Wallace Hall Room 108 comes with a list of new equipment selected specifically for the work required of students in the IMC program. Mounted on the wall across from a 16-seat conference table is a 75-inch, high-definition flatscreen television with Apple TV which, through the use of Air Play, transforms a piece of entertainment technology into a new-age teaching tool.
“For what we want to do, a projector wasn’t going to work,” said Amy Jones. “We wanted the ability for students to show their work to the class from their computer with the click of a button. It also allows students to project work from personal computers, iPads, and iPhones.”
Professor Greg Jones said, “My favorite feature is the conference table because it holds students accountable if they come unprepared. They can’t hide behind the computers anymore. It prepares students to work in the real world.”
Other features include two reversible white boards for lectures, 13 Mac computers for students to work on, a special area for muse, and a comfortable lounge area. The walls, adorned with more than 20 certificates won by IMC students in Southeast Journalism Conference competition, also feature poster-size color and black and white photographs taken by IMC students both past and present.
However, hard work doesn’t just magically happen, and the planning and effort put in over the past seven months has definitely paid off.
“We started working on just the concept of what we wanted to do in January, and we didn’t know if we were going to be able to afford everything we wanted to do,” said Amy Jones. “We raised a little over half of it ourselves through funds from our grant, fundraisers, and funds from our budget. The other half came from College of Liberal Arts course fees.”
Amy Jones said that the work really began at the end of May when all of the students left campus. The first step was painting and putting new carpet in the room. Next, the conference tables, cut from a bowling alley lane and once used as dining tables in the Caf, were refinished by the Physical Plant and brought to their new home in the Mac Lab. Current IMC students Magdalena Galvan and Cody Easterling joined the team of Joneses to assemble the all of the furniture.
“The rest of it would surprise you how it all came together,” said Amy Jones. “The certificate frames are cheap wooden frames, and I spray painted them. The frames above the couch and the spheres above the conference table I spray painted at home. My backyard smelled like spray paint.”
Taking on a renovation in such a short amount of time comes with its own set of challenges. From the planning stages to the final showcase classroom, professors and students planned the Mac Lab’s final design through a multitude of discussions over many months.
Greg Jones said, “I have designed houses with less conversation than what it took to renovate the Mac Lab.”
With all of the projects assigned throughout the program, the Mac Lab often serves as a home away from home for many IMC students, and the new renovations have created a comfortable work environment.
Classes offered in the new Mac Lab are Sports Writing, Sports Issues in the Media, Graphic Design, Mass Media Design, Photography, Vector Lab, Newspaper Practicum, Advanced Media Writing Lab, and Methods of IMC.