Gone Platinum: Award-Winning GMU-TV Educates with Technology

Posted: December 12, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

GMU-TV staff
GMU-TV staff members with some of their awards, from left: Heather Bailey, Richard Wood, Greg Smalfelt, Stacey Rathbun, Susan Kehoe, Rich Eggleton, Jamie Smith and Aman Agah.

By Christopher Anzalone

GMU-TV has won so many awards – 57 in the last 10 years – that the elegant gold and silver statuettes and sparkling plaques overflow the unit’s display case and are scattered throughout offices and studios in Innovation Hall.

In 2005, GMU-TV went platinum, winning the highest level in the national Aurora competition for independent film and video programs and commercials. The best of show award was among the 11 honors GMU-TV earned this year alone.

Richard Wood, GMU-TV’s executive producer and director of production services, has worked on many of the projects that garnered awards in his six years at Mason, and Tellys, Auroras and Daveys are displayed in his office as well. But winning awards, of course, is simply a by-product of GMU-TV’s work, he points out.

“Our objective is to assist education through technology-enhanced learning,” says Wood. During the 2004-05 academic year, more than 3,000 students enrolled in GMU-TV telecourses and distance learning modules, which span the university’s academic units. Offerings included courses for the College of Nursing and Health Science, the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences.

A Collaborative Process

To carry out its mission and to ensure the production of high-quality instructional materials, GMU-TV invites proposals from academic departments and faculty members who wish to develop media.

Rich Eggleton
Senior Telecourse Producer/Director Rich Eggleton monitors a program in GMU-TV’s new state-of-the-art studios.

For example, one of the 2005 international Davey award winners, “Women and the Media,” was designed in partnership with Cynthia Lont, a professor of communication and the interim director of the Telecom and Media Research Center. The production was a new course supplement examining the role of women and their influence on the media.

Other GMU-TV productions are full-fledged telecourses developed in close cooperation with the Mason faculty. Telecourses to be offered in spring 2006 include two communication courses, Video I: Principles and Practices and Theories of Visual Communication; a history course, History of Western Civilization; and a parks, recreation and leisure studies course, Introduction to Natural Resource Law.

“Every GMU-TV production must withstand a rigorous internal review process and is held to exacting broadcast standards before it is taped, aired or distributed,” says Wood.

And to pass along those high standards and provide hands-on learning and production experience for students, GMU-TV offers GMU-TV Internship for credit each semester. Focusing on video production and development skills, including editing, program marketing and studio and field production, the course is open to qualified junior or senior communication majors. Students must meet GPA requirements and submit a resume, cover letter and references to be considered.

Programming for the Broader Community

“I think almost all of our projects would be of interest to the off-campus community,” says Wood. “Even our educational courses that are tied to a specific course are presented in such a way that they will have a wider appeal and are engaging to more than students enrolled in that course.”

There are some GMU-TV programs, of course, that are specifically aimed at a broader audience. “In support of the university’s strategic priorities, GMU-TV creates media designed to highlight university-wide innovations, research and instruction,” explains Wood.

One of these is an award-winning public affairs program, “Tech Horizons.” The series is hosted by Lloyd Griffiths, dean of the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering, and focuses on emerging technology and how it relates to the real world. It often showcases the work and expertise of George Mason faculty members and researchers.

Available for viewing to more than 600,000 households through cable television service in Northern Virginia, GMU-TV programming can also be viewed live via streaming media on the Internet, with selected programs available as video-on-demand files on its web site. Some programs also air nationally and locally through partnerships between GMU-TV, the Research Channel and four broadcast outlets.

Never Standing Still

Part of George Mason’s Division of Instructional Technology and Support Services (DoIT), within the Information Technology Unit, GMU-TV has six full-time professional producer/directors and a staff of part-time production assistants and interns. General Manager Susan Kehoe doubles as a producer and director on some projects.

“We always have something going on here,” says Wood. “Currently we have 30 projects in some stage of development or production.” Wood lists some exciting initiatives from GMU-TV to watch for: a new public affairs series that will highlight the creative and intellectual works and research of the George Mason community; and a face-lift of sorts for the unit.

“Thanks to new digital signage technology, GMU-TV will have a much more dynamic look and will become an even more integral source for the delivery of information and announcements concerning the entire university community,” Wood hints.

Greg Smalfelt
Greg Smalfelt, director of engineering and senior producer, works on a GMU-TV production.
Creative Services photos

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