Information, Technology & Consulting

The Jones Media Center Gets Revamped

a media lab with swivel chairs, modern tables, and wall screens

The Jones Media Center's West Side lab

casual seating with chairs and tables in The Jones Media Center

Casual Seating in The Jones Media Center

long sleek main desk of media center

Collect your DVDs here: the Media Center's front desk.

bar stools and counter at a tech bar

Imbibe on media in the tech bar.

small auditorium of chairs face a big screen

The Jones Media Center's Innovation Studio

In May, the Jones Media Center completed a renovation project that began in December 2014.


Since its inception in 2000, The Jones Media Center has provided the Dartmouth community with collections and expertise for researching, viewing, and producing a wide range of media.

Now, the revamped center includes twice the amount of seating, more areas for collaborative multimedia project work, and an innovation studio—a multi-purpose, reconfigurable teaching, learning, and production facility. Such attributes are important in an age where we’ve flipped the switch from being passive consumers of media, according to Head of Digital Media and Library Technologies Anthony Helm.

“With the phone’s ability to create content, along with social media networks, we’re all creators, and by being creators, we’re much more active and participatory in the culture we live in,” Helm says.

Jones is located in Baker Library. The majority of visitors—whether they’re faculty, staff, or students—stop by to check out DVDs from its collection, which boasts over 18,000 titles. One of the center’s most important services, according to Helm, is to guide students as they work on media production projects for various courses.

“How do you tell a story or make an argument that’s compelling in a video? It could be a documentary. But it doesn’t have to be,” Helm says. “We have foreign language classes that are doing skits in the target language. We have students who do very personal documentary stories.”

Documentary subjects can vary by term, depending on the courses being taught. Video projects draw from across the curriculum, although the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric assigns several projects, since many introductory writing classes include a media component.

Helm points out that Jones staff frequently need to scale back expectations: “Often we work with faculty to make sure they tailor the assignment to what students can do in a term. We’ve had to tell faculty ‘You’ve only got ten weeks’.”

A video project takes much longer than its written counterpart: “The challenge, if anything, is making sure you’re conveying the same level of insight and scholarship as you would in a paper,” Helm says.

The center has seven staff, whose expertise includes instructional design, film preservation, and media production. Media Learning Technologist Susan Simon and Digital Collections and Oral History Archivist Caitlin Birch have worked with students on how to formulate good questions, conduct interviews, and use audio recorders. “We recently gave students a homework assignment to interview a friend about their Dartmouth Outing Club trip experience, transcribe it, and then talk about the experience afterwards,” Simon says. “Although the students ultimately won't have to transcribe their interviews, we wanted to give them the experience of how time consuming it can be!”

Helm notes that staff members are using the center more frequently in recent years: some ask for help with a personal project, such as digital photography for a wedding, while others need assistance for job-related tasks.

“Someone who was an office assistant at Dartmouth is now being asked to build a website, shoot a video, record a speaker: in the past, they might have turned that over to Conferences and Events or Media Production, but those facilities can’t take on all the requests.”

Jones Media Center is providing tools, expertise, and guidance, to help everyone at the college become more active in that participatory culture we live in. 

Helm: “We’re offering the tools for the kind of transformative learning that goes way beyond books, paper, and text on pages.”

 

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