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New Media Studies Students Move Showcase Online

‘Forward’ highlights the final projects of 17 students, despite COVID-19 restrictions.

ALMA — Due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, students in the new media studies program at Alma College weren’t able to take part in an annual rite of passage — the senior showcase, in which majors and minors in the program display their thesis projects and discuss them before a live audience.

So, they got creative.

On Thursday, April 16, an online-only showcase, “Forward,” highlighted the final projects of 17 students before alumni, friends, family, potential employers and others.

In addition to showcasing their projects, which encompassed a wide array of entertainment media, students also hosted their own question-and-answer sessions before a live audience on the computer webcam platforms Google Meets and Zoom.

“Some of the faculty, alumni and students who were there said they really enjoyed the format and seeing how this worked. Through all of the disadvantages we had, we found new opportunities,” said Anthony Collamati, chair of the communication and new media studies department.

“I think everyone was really pleased with the work. Some of the alumni who were there, who have seen shows going back to the beginning, said it was one of the strongest shows they have ever seen.”

Collamati said the student-organized show, which has taken place annually for roughly the past seven years, has never been held entirely online. Students this year planned the showcase, originally called “Pyre,” for several months before college’s move to distance learning forced them to quickly change their plans.

“The students shifted the brand, they shifted the marketing. The students involved in the venue re-organized themselves into a web development team and started fleshing out pages on Squarespace,” Collamati said. “They deserve a lot of credit.”

The senior showcase drew upwards of 30 participants at a time, including at least two — Haoran Zhang and Xiaoxuan “Zoey” Yuan, students in the program — participating from their native China.

In response to a query during the Q&A session, Chris Nouhan, one of the presenting seniors, said for new media studies students — along with many others at Alma College — the coronavirus pandemic created new opportunities to learn and grow.

“I don’t think we’re inherently advantaged, being new media students,” Nouhan said. “I think it has more to do with us being digital natives, and being open to change. The pandemic forced us to adapt quickly.”

Projects took place across a number of forms of media, such as narrative film, documentary film, tabletop role-playing games, video games, web projects and more. They included:

Narrative Film and Photo

“Beyond the Deadfall,” by Zack Bosley, senior from Howard City

“Artifacts,” by Andrew Coffelt, senior from Tecumseh

“Welcome to Litterville,” by Mia Pagliuco, senior from Glen Ellyn, IL

“Aesthetical Trailers,” by Emma Wood, senior from Dearborn

Documentary Film and Photo

“Coffee Excuse,” by Joey Castle, senior from Muskegon

“The House That Built Many,” by Emily Kayden, senior from Midland

“The Crux: Topping Out on Mental Illness and Stigma,” by Lashawnda Lampley, senior from Chicago, IL

“In the Moment,” by Meredith St. Henry, senior from Lake Orion

“Breakout,” by David Suidgeest, senior from St. Johns

Game Design

“Agility Arena,” by Noah Harrington, senior from Alma

“Jörmungandr: The World Train,” by Spencer McClure, senior from Langley, WA

“A Trip to China,” by Haoran Zhang, senior from Handan, China

Graphic Design, UX and Marketing

“SEO for Small Businesses,” by Julia McTaggart, senior from Millington

“Transforming Sports into Art,” by Whitney Miller, senior from Sparta

“Hydroponic Homes,” by Ivy VanPoppelen, senior from Dryden

“Production House,” by Chris Nouhan, senior from Eastpointe

“Product Designs with the Theme of Chinese City Impression,” by Xiaoxuan “Zoey” Yuan, senior from Tianjin, China

Story published on April 23, 2020