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By: Adam Rogers

Bethany Bradshaw in the NCSU Libraries' Digital Media Lab

Bethany Bradshaw in the NCSU Libraries' Digital Media Lab

Last spring, I had the pleasure of supporting an exciting digital media assignment for an ENG 101 class. The assignment, called a “digital auto-ethnography,” asked students to make a short video telling a personal narrative of their participation in a social group.

At the Libraries, we provided help to students doing this assignment in a number of ways. First, I made sure they knew about our Technology Lending program, which has video cameras and audio recorders that students can use for projects like this. I also promoted the Digital Media Lab as a great place for them to ask for help with video editing.

Last, I organized “iMovie Basics” workshops for members of the class to attend. These covered the basics of video editing in iMovie in a manner suitable for beginners. Taught by our student workers in the Digital Media Lab, our workshops are a great way to learn basic digital media skills.

The auto-ethnography assignment was the work of Bethany Bradshaw, a graduate student and instructor in the English Department at NCSU. I asked her to share her thoughts on the assignment and the work her students produced for it. Snapshots from some of the students’ videos are included below.

Where did you get the idea for the assignment?

Bethany Bradshaw: I have been interested in multimodal and digital composition for quite a while, and I did some research on the topic last fall. In the spring semester, I found out that my co-teacher and mentor Megan Hall was planning to assign an autoethnography and presentation for our students’ final project, so I asked her if I could transform this assignment into a digital composition. She was completely supportive of the idea, and I so I modified her assignment based on my research and experiences with composing multimodally and digitally.

Bonding with fellow First-Generation Indian-Americans, from autoethnography by Samruddhi

Bonding with fellow first-generation Indian-Americans, from autoethnography by Samruddhi

What do you think was the biggest challenge students faced?

BB: Almost all of the students encountered technical difficulties at some point during the project, and many of them had never created a digital composition before. However, the digital media lab staff was incredibly helpful and supportive throughout the process, and everyone was able to produce a video he or she could be proud of.

What surprised or impressed you about the videos the students created?

BB: I was really impressed with the quality of my students’ videos, both in content and in production. But I think I was most surprised by the emotional impact their compositions were able to convey: they were at times funny, touching, and inspirational, which I think speaks to the power of the digital medium and my students’ ability to utilize it effectively.

Jordan interviews his big brother on why he plays football, from "Football = Life" by Jordan Dash

Jordan interviews his big brother on why he plays football, from "Football = Life" by Jordan Dash

Were you pleased with the results of the assignment?

BB: I was really impressed with how quickly my students were able to adapt to composing in a digital medium. They were able to take the same composition skills of invention, revision, and developing effective rhetorical strategies that we had been developing in written papers all semester and then translate these skills into a digital context without much trouble. Although they did have trouble with new technologies at times, they all learned how to take advantage of the library’s digital resources (both in equipment and expertise) and were able to create pretty sophisticated videos as a result.

Dean Malecha interviewed, from "The Journey So Far" by Laura

Dean Malecha interviewed, from "The Journey So Far" by Laura

What was the biggest challenge for you as an instructor?

BB: I was unfamiliar with some of the technologies that my students were using as well, so I was bit nervous about answering their technology-based questions. I had to learn along with them at times, and I also attended an iMovie workshop, which was incredibly helpful. I also did a lot of referring (and at times, physically walking) them to the digital media specialists, who were also very helpful. If they learned nothing else from this project, my students at least learned how to get digital support from the library.

What advice do you have for an instructor who’s interested in offering a digital media assignment?

BB: Go meet with the library. Also, scaffold your unit so that most of the students’ planning and conceptual work is completed early. Have them use storyboards to draft their compositions. Then, build in lots of time for the actual composing process – the process of making a video can be a much more time-intensive than the process of writing a paper.

Danielle shows off her skills, from "Gymnastics" by Danielle

Danielle shows off her skills, from "Gymnastics" by Danielle

Anything else you’d like to add?

BB: I was so encouraged by my students’ commitment and enthusiasm during this project. Many of them spent hours composing and editing their videos, and their hard work was evident and impressive.

Adam here again–for me personally, this was a great experience. Bethany invited me to watch the students’ videos in their final class, and I was blown away by their creativity and originality. The NCSU Libraries is always available to support instructors in offering digital media assignments, and students in completing them. For this kind of assistance, contact me personally or fill out a Technology Consultation request.

Adam Rogers is the Emerging Technology Services Librarian at NCSU Libraries. He can be reached at

By: Charlie Morris

On May 18th a group of librarian volunteers from here at NC State volunteered to pick collards for the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle based in Durham.  In addition to gleaning collards, I also had the opportunity to use and review one of the Libraries’ best devices available for borrowing, the Olympus E-620 DSLR camera.

What’s great about this camera is that it allows for both the uninitiated and the advanced photographer to take great pictures.  The camera has 11 modes that each have a specific setup and purpose.  For most of the pictures I took I just left the camera in “AUTO” mode, which means the camera determines shutter speed, aperture and does the focusing for you.  And it did a great job of that regardless of the distance from the subject I shot.  So, you can treat this camera like a traditional point-and-shoot and you’ll find that it takes fantastic pictures.

A simple point-and-shoot shot taken while I was crouched low.

A simple point-and-shoot shot taken while I was crouched low.

Every once in a while, like many cameras, the E-620 might not focus on the subject you want to focus on in automatic mode depending on what other objects are in the scene.  One trick to fix this, without messing with advanced settings, is to center the camera on an object that is at the distance of your desired subject, press the shutter button halfway, watch it focus in the viewfinder, move the camera to the scene you are looking to shoot and press all the way down on the shutter button.

An up-close action shot with the worker’s hands in focus.

The E-620 comes with a load of interesting features and settings.  For instance, the LCD monitor is on a pivoting door that is closed by default.  I’m guessing the idea behind this feature is to protect the monitor when it’s not in use.   The monitor can be used as a big viewfinder too, it has a live view option, though I think most would prefer the viewfinder.  Also, there is an interesting shooting mode option called “ART/SCN” which stands for “Art filter/Scene.”  This mode is another “easy shooting mode” which means the DSLR can be used as a point-and-shoot at this setting as well.  What is interesting about this mode is the variety of Instagram-like filters available.  You can add drama or visual effect to any shot by applying one of these art filters, like “Pin Hole” or “Pop Art.”

The “Pin Hole” filter creates old-timey vignettes.

The “Pop Art” filter makes the photo’s colors seem unnatural and bright.

There is a ton more that this camera can do, the majority of which I don’t fully understand!  However, for anyone looking to learn a little bit more, I would highly recommend that you borrow this camera and take the camera’s manual out with you when you shoot.  Personally, I downloaded the E-620’s manual to my iPad from Olympus’ website (just google “Olympus e-620 manual”).  When you encounter a setting you don’t get, you can look it up with ease.  It’s a great way to learn more about this specific camera, as well as photography in general.

Charlie Morris is an NCSU Libraries’ Fellow with the Libraries’ User Experience Department. He can be reached at

May 04 2012


By: Adam Rogers

Welcome to the NCSU Libraries’ Emerging Tech blog. This is an online space for us to highlight the library’s activities in the exciting world of new technology, and the services, projects, and collaborations it enables.

Here are some things you can expect to see here:

  • Reviews of new gadgets available in our Tech Lending Service
  • Updates of new hardware and software in the Libraries
  • Invitations to beta-test new technologies
  • Promotion of tech-related events at the Libraries
  • Profiles of students and faculty who are doing interesting things with technology
  • Notifications of student jobs available
  • And much more…

We’ll also be reaching out to the NCSU community to learn what you’re doing with emerging technologies, and how the library can better serve you in this exciting field.

Thanks for tuning in.

Adam Rogers
Emerging Technology Services Librarian
User Experience Department, NCSU Libraries