UAB's Digital Media Commons
A Hands-On Technology Lab
By Tyler Greer
Today’s digital revolution is like the 1990s Information Highway on steroids. More than 1.5 billion people are now connected to the Internet via computers, not to mention more than 5 billion feature phones, 500 million smartphones, and 60 million tablets and e-readers globally—and those numbers climb daily.
These staggering data give new meaning to the term “digital literacy.” Fortunately, the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is at the forefront of helping students and other members of the UAB community get ahead of the information curve through creation of the Digital Media Commons (DMC)—a hands-on, open resource advance the university’s plugged-in faculty, staff, and students.
“Digital and media skills are as important as writing ability in today’s wired world, which is ultimately why the lab and classroom were created,” says Rosie O’Beirne, director of digital media and learning, a new CAS entity that includes the Digital Media Commons and a variety of digital initiatives that benefit faculty and students.
Thanks to support from CAS benefactors, full digital editing options are available at the DMC. Faculty, staff, and students can edit videos using Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere 6, and Avid Media Composer—all industry standards in documentary filmmaking and Hollywood studio productions.
“We have a full menu of multimedia applications unlike any other lab on campus,” O’Beirne says. “The lab’s combination of sophisticated applications makes it unique.”
Homewood native Colin Albea, a senior majoring in film and history who completed an internship at Duncan Scott Productions in Santa Monica, California, this past summer, vouches for the DMC’s advanced tools. “The lab has the necessary equipment to make students competitive in the job market,” Albea says. “A large part of my internship involved editing, and thankfully I was able to jump right in due to the experience I had gained at UAB with both Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. I can say with certainty that the software and programs available in this lab prepare students for realworld jobs in the film and media world.”
The new media classroom, which is available for use by any media-based class on campus, bears little resemblance to the rigid teacher-student classrooms of old. Kevin Franks, a junior civil engineering major from Hayden, says the setup of the open-resource lab and classroom encourages students to work together. “All of the classes we take in this area are interdisciplinary and so hands-on,” Franks says. “You really do need people around to help you. This environment makes it so much easier on the students for that experiential learning. It makes sharing with one another so much easier.”
DIGITAL MEDIA COMMONS
• Heritage Hall rooms 342 and 334 open-access resource lab for faculty, staff, students
• 20 fully loaded multimedia Mac stations
• Latest editing software, including Avid, Final Cut X, Adobe Suite 6
• Collaborative breakout room with five-person Mediascape, Skype, virtual conferencing, voiceover and storytelling recording booth
• Staffed equipment room
• HD cameras and other digital tools
• Media classroom
• Laptops loaded with media applications
• Rechargeable laptop cart
• Four Mediascape stations for collaborative learning
• Flexible and collaborative design that redefines student-teacher interaction