Published: June 22, 2009

By integrating music, movies, still images, web design, and podcasting, English Professor Ed Rivers highlights technology’s power to communicate both content and emotion.  Rivers’ inspiration for his Multimedia Composition course came from student projects.  An increasing number of students wanted to use technologies such as music, video, and still photography to augment their real-world English projects.  Soon, demand was great enough that Rivers redesigned the course to intentionally integrate technology and original creative work.

Rivers’ goal for the course was to help students “learn how to say more through a combination of media than any one medium can say alone.”  These various media may include photography, podcasts, original music, movies, and websites.  Students create original works by using all the media applications in Apple's iLife Suite plus professional-level applications such as Aperture (for photos), Reason (for music), and Motion (for animation).

Rivers’ teaching goals and style complement each other.  His teaching goals are oriented toward practical, real-world communication, using techniques that will capture and retain students’ interest.  For example, last semester students expressed interest in the creative medium of podcasting.  Rivers responded to their feedback by incorporating podcasting into his latest version of Multimedia Composition.  Students are also challenged to explore their creativity and originality.

Rivers has developed a template for teaching technologies.   He identifies the essential components of a technology, and then uses his computer to lead students through the step-by-step development of those components.  Students, in turn, either use their own computers or ATLAS’ computers to mimic what Rivers does.  This learning by doing approach helps students quickly feel comfortable with the technology.

Rivers recently received an ASSETT grant through the Dean’s Fund for Excellence program.  This grant will allow Rivers to purchase additional technologies, such as Final CutExpress, Logic Express, and Dreamweaver, to augment his Multimedia Composition course.  Rivers is also developing an advanced 4000 level course titled Digital Sound.  This course is expected to be offered in the Spring 2010 semester.