Media@IU, Castronova’s Gamer-Friendly Grading, Ted at the Sweet Sixteen, Brown Bag

Media@IU, by Mike Lang

Gathered in Mark Deuze’s office, Mark Deuze, Danqing Liu, Jennifer Talbott, Geng Zhang, and Adam Simpson bounce ideas off one another as they plan for the upcoming Media@IU reception at the Well’s House on April 4th.  Projector to project the Media@IU website on the wall? Check. Microphone and sound system? Check. Facebook event page? Check.  Preparations for the hush-hush VIP after party? Check. Attendance is a bit light today, as team members Christy Wessel Powell and Maria Fedorova are unable to make it, but the ideas still keep flowing. Every Thursday from 1-2 the Media@IU team convenes to discuss progress and plans, but as the buzz builds, so to do the questions surrounding the initiative.

Over the last few years, Deuze has noticed an increase in media related research and creative activities across campus including research projects in other departments, courses, speakers, student clubs and organizations, and graduate reading groups. As such, the original goal of Media@IU was simply to raise awareness of these activities. Two semesters ago, Liu, working as an RA for Deuze, was charged with one of the first awareness-raising jobs, collecting information about courses around related to media. A huge project with lots of potential, Liu recruited Talbott and Zhang to help out. Setting up a T575: Directed Group New Media Design Project under the supervision of Deuze, the three embarked on creating a database on media-related activities on campus. As Talbott explains, the trio searched for classes, talked to faculty in various departments, went to the career development center, talked to career advisors, looked up student clubs, located facilities on campus that could be useful for media projects, identified UITS classes that offered media related skills, and did some research on companies affiliated with IU that could potentially offer students internships or jobs. Along the way they recruited students from SLIS and journalism to build the website that would house all of the information.

In the beginning most of the initiatives were organized around undergraduates. Because media is such a broad topic, many students need a road map of sorts. Liu explains that when Joe Schmo freshman goes to register for classes or pick a major, Media@IU can help him navigate the many facets of media scholarship and gain a clearer view of what he wants to do. They also hope that the site would facilitate faculty collaboration.  This semester the team has shifted its attention to graduate student resources such information on funding sources for research, and small snippets on projects going on around campus.

The culmination of all this work will be the first ever Media@IU conference in October. Held in the Union, the conference will bring together students and faculty to present and discuss their media related work, provide opportunities to network, and facilitate collaboration. In addition, the conference will be  spotlighted by a rock star keynote speaker selected by graduate students. Although the team takes it one step at a time, it hopes the conference will grow to the point it can resemble the old Big Ten Media and Communication conference that died out years ago.

Throughout the process, the team has gained new members from around the University, some who may only come for a meeting or two, and others who stick around for longer. Zhang says that finding new recruits in the beginning was hard. However, as their ideas evolved into a more tangible product, people were more receptive and helpful. So much so that when the team put out an advertisement for website help, they received inquiries from individuals all the way in California willing to contribute at no cost.  Although the original trio is graduating this May they hope to recruit some new members to carry on the torch after they leave.

Fundamentally, Media@IU is a ground up exercise; an initiative driven by the desire and willingness of students and faculty to collaborate in the spirit of doing more with media. It’s hard to predict where it will go, or what it will look like, but with the full backing of the provost, and a team of dedicated individuals willing to put in the work, everyone gets to reap the rewards.

The Media@IU reception will take place on Wednesday, April 4th from 8-10pm in the Well’s House and refreshments will be provided. Stop by and learn what the future of media research at IU looks like. Did I mention free T-shirts and a wicked after party? Check out the Facebook event page here. Check out the Media@IU Website here.

The Media@IU Team: Danqing Liu, Jennifer Talbott, Geng Zhang, Christy Wessel Powell, Maria Fedorova, Jihoon Jo, Jin Guo, Vasumathi Sridharan, Adam Simpson, Todd Chen.

Media@IU Logo by Todd Chen.

Castronova’s Gamer-Friendly Grading, by Ken Rosenberg

Like many of my generation, I went through school wishing it were more like a video game. When I found out that this is not just a personal fantasy, but a widespread and serious movement that needs researchers, I knew I would stay in school forever. Gamification is the use of game-like systems to structure and enhance real-world behavior and its proponents often list education among the most important institutions in need of such a shift. Games are neatly designed experiences that are logical, iterative, skill-based, egalitarian, and always potentially winnable—a perfect formula for learning. Professor Ted Castronova’s grading of undergraduates resembles a leveling system common to games, one that originated in the role-playing genre.

Students must write 500-word essays, which are graded on a pass-fail basis. Though many games have point systems—or even, ironically, letter-based grading systems—at the end of a level, the most important measure is still the “level clear” screen; either you won the game, or you didn’t.

They can submit as many times as it takes to earn complete credit. There is no limit on how many times you can try to win a game, and the only thing that matters is winning. The previous attempts do not count against you—in fact, if anything, they prove beneficial. Studies show that some failed attempts can ultimately make victory more emotionally rewarding. Punishment for failure only discourages effort.

It takes a bit more to earn each next level. Gamers know that all levels are not built equally: 1 through 20 is nowhere near the grind that takes a player from 20 to 40. Essay requirements for the next highest grade work on a +1 additive progression. Earning a “C” requires two more essays than a “D”-level performance, but going from a “C” to a “B” takes three.

The grade breakdown:

  • 1 essay   =   D
  • 3 essays  =  C
  • 6 essays  =  B
  • 10 essays = A

When Ted told other teachers about his system, they assumed that most students would earn an “A.” In fact the class still keeps the typical “C” average. Ted believes that students pick their grade from the beginning and decide to do a set number of essays. (Regardless of when or how students determine their grade, they still turn in most of them at the end of the semester.) Despite the unfortunate conclusion that game-like systems will not push everyone toward maximum achievement, there is one enormously significant upshot that all teachers can appreciate: nobody complains about their grade.

Ted at the Sweet Sixteen, by Mike Lang

Ted Jamison-Koenig was never a basketball fan. Then he moved to Bloomington to attend IU. For the last 5 years, Jamison-Koenig has sat through the worst years of Indiana basketball, yet cheered the Hoosiers on with ferver regardless. With the Hoosiers having a better than expected year this year, making it to the Sweet Sixteen, Ted road tripped to Atlanta to watch the fabled matchup with IU’s rival Kentucky. Edward Jones Dome, home field of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, may not have been the best suited for a basketball game (especially with all the good tickets going to alumni and high roller donors).  But that didn’t stop Ted from having a good time, as he was just happy to be there. Unfortunately IU lost the game, but the proclamation was loud and clear. IU basketball is back, and Ted was there to witness it.

Brown bag

Dynamic Motivational Activation in Media Use and Processing

Zheng Wang

A mathematical theoretical framework called Dynamic Motivational Activation (DMA) will be described. DMA models help reveal how we attend to, process, respond to, and are affected by the ever-changing information environment in an adaptive way. The models tease apart the influences of the exogenous vs. the endogenous variables (e.g., communication variables vs. audience physiological and cognitive system variables), and allow the study of their dynamic interactions. A few DAM studies will be discussed. They examine the dynamics of real-time processing of entertainment and persuasive messages, and also longitudinal communication activities in daily life.

..

Conceptualizing Flow, Presence and Transportation as Motivated Cognitive States

Rachel Bailey

Flow, Presence and Transportation will be discussed as the outcome of the motivated cognitive dynamic system settling into different attractor states. Conceptual definitions from the literatures concerning each of these states will be discussed and translated into motivated cognition variables. Data from three experiments will be presented in support of this reconceptualization. Implications for taking this dynamical, complex approach to studying these states, and media processing in general, will be discussed.

Bios:

Zheng Joyce Wang (Ph.D. in Communications & Cognitive Science, IU-Bloomington, 2007) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at the Ohio State University, Columbus. One of her research foci is the use of real time data (e.g., psychophysiological measures, real life experience sampling) in conjunction with formal dynamic models to study how people process and use media. In particular, she is interested in the dynamic reciprocal effects between media choice/use behavior and its impact on emotion and cognition over time. Another research foci is to understand contextual influences on decision and cognition by building new probabilistic and dynamic systems based on quantum rather than classic probability theory. Her research has been supported by National Science Foundation.

Rachel Bailey is a third-year doctoral student at Indiana University. Her research interests focus on understanding how motivationally and psychologically relevant variables come together in complex ways to influence and constrain how information is processed in mediated contexts over time.

Random Search Term of the Week

One of the search terms that led a viewer to the grad blog was: “a stone with bryant substance”!

And the viewer was treated to last year’s February 28 story on Bryant Paul’s Rock Tumbler.

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