Thursday, October 7, 2010

Connecting to Experts in Multimedia

One goal this fall that I have is to connect to experts in the 'real world' with everything our multimedia class does. Recently we had an awesome experience with James Schutz from Transcend Coffee. In previous Language Arts classes I have invited a poet to talk to my students, but this was the first time I've done it with multimedia.

James in the Marketing Director over at Transcend. I am a big fan of the coffee, and after I had tweeted that our class was looking to connect with people about advertising and promotions, it was suggested to me that James was the one to contact. We skyped a week in advance about what our class was up to and set up a time for him to Skype into my 2 media arts classes. He generously shipped us up a couple pounds of Transcend coffee (yum!) so our class could drink the coffee as we Skyped! (Is Skype a verb now? I think so....)

James and the Transcend crew believe in the power of SoMe. They are active users of Twitter (@transcendcoffee), maintain an extensive blog and have great video blogs that James shoots and edits. They are passionate about their product.

Students asked questions in advance on a Google Form and came up with pretty good questions related to advertising and design. Some were not on task, but hey, this is a high school option class after all. This little tool help gather all questions quickly and students were safe to ask anything without feeling awkward.

With caffeine pumping through our veins, we enjoyed hearing from James' story, about how he came to be the marketing guru at Transcend, what his educational background is, and the projects he has initiated since he joined the team.

The highlight of the session was when James spoke about the importance of identity, brand identity and the idea of having a great logo. In his words perhaps the greatest challenge of a marketing group is to come up with an idea for, and design a logo. Case in point is his description of how the Fedex logo is a lesson in simplicity as well as the importance of negative space. Take a moment to watch the "a ha" moment my students had with him!

It was one of those great teaching moments to see the students make the connection between what they had learned in class with something that is actually used in the real world. It truly made my year so far.

Now that we have successfully invited an expert into the class via Skype, I am thinking about where this should go. Without a doubt, I want each project we do to have a connection to an expert that can help us with a greater understanding or 'real world' picture. Even the phrase 'real world' has a catch. It implies that what we are doing in my class isn't a part of the real world. Maybe we need to stop thinking of our classes as something so separate and isolated from the outside world. If I was trying to learn about advertising as a professional and I needed help in designing a logo, I would do just as our class did: find an expert who did and ask them to consult with me and assist.

That's a whole other can of worms for another post....

Perhaps my next challenge will be for students to make a connection to someone or some company to get expert opinion and support into our classroom. Any ideas as to how to approach this?

Thanks again to James Schutz from Transcend Coffee for his time and expertise. I look forward to working with him and sharing over a cappuccino soon!

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