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Ball State Information on iTV Project

Ball State is educating the first wave of graphic designers to work in the interactive news industry, where the viewer — not a news producer, reporter or anchor — is in control.

Instead of a news story being told in linear fashion with an anchor introducing a subject followed by a reporter in the field giving a 90-second explanation, interactive television will allow the viewer to examine a story in depth by using a remote control to click on a graphic element that leads to additional information.

Interactive Television News Graphics allows students to create graphic interface systems that put viewers in control of information, said Tim Pollard, a telecommunications professor, who teaches the class with Jennifer Palilonis, a journalism instructor, and Vinayak Tanksale, a computer science instructor.

“Interactive television offers increased control over programming content by enabling the viewer to immediately respond to programming and alter it,” Pollard said. “By offering such control, interactive television has the potential to redefine television. It is coming very soon and will transform how we watch television forever.”

According to Pollard, students are learning how to think differently about how television news graphics can create a richer experience for the viewer and to look at broadcasting as a two-way experience during which the viewer controls the content and the experience.

Students also are learning to create graphic elements that will work on a variety of platforms in addition to television, including cell phones, personal digital assistants and iPods, said Palilonis.

“This course is also a very cutting-edge exercise in convergence, as we explore how a variety of rich media can come together in a broadcast format and allow a viewer to actually interact with the content,” she said. “The communications students in the course are majors in broadcast news, broadcast production, journalism information graphics reporting and print design. All of these students have had to explore how to apply their knowledge of their specific areas of expertise to an entirely new mode of information gathering and presentation.

“There are certainly many professional outlets exploring these concepts, but we are the first student group in the world to explore iTV design in a classroom setting,” Palilonis said.

The class is a collaborative effort by Ball State’s College of Information, Media, and Communication and the College of Science and Humanities.

Pollard said many of the key technical issues were successfully solved by Tanksale and five computer science majors enrolled in the class.

“Without their help, the class would not have worked,” he said. “They were crucial in programming an application to the Windows Media Center platform.”

Assisting in the development of the class and teaching it both online and in person this semester are three leading interactive media veterans serving as Industry Research Fellows during 2005-06 for Ball State’s Center for Media Design (CMD), Ball State’s research and development facility that focuses on the creation, testing and practical application of digital technologies for business, classroom, home and community.

Coming to campus on a regular basis are Dale Herigstad, executive creative director for Schematic, a company that designs and develops interface and technology solutions; John Herne, head of studio and media consulting for Sonalysts Inc. and formerly director of new media for the Discovery Networks; and John Canning, a senior product manager and field producer for the Yahoo! Media Group and formerly a technical evangelist in Microsoft’s eHome Division.

CMD researchers will study how people use interactive television by putting the students’ work on the air as part of a special in-house broadcast of NewsLink Indiana, the university’s converged news program. The CMD has selected a group of television viewers to watch the program, broadcast only to campus locations, April 1 with assistance from staff in Ball State’s Department of Computer Science, Office of Information Technology, CMD and Teleplex, which provides state-of-the-art media-related services to Ball State faculty, staff and departments.

Source: Ball State University

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