Multimedia Team Wins National Award

Published 02.11.2001

Faculty & Staff

It may not be an Oscar, Emmy or Grammy, but it's just as coveted. Just like Hollywood, Pennsylvania College of Technology's Office of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning is sharing the spotlight with other nationally recognized media producers.

Penn College's team of multimedia producers has been presented an Award of Distinction in the 2000 Communicator Awards competition. The Communicator Awards is a national awards program founded by communications professionals to recognize excellence in the communication field. The Communicator Awards gives winners the recognition that the work they are producing is outstanding and highly regarded by their peers. The competition provides an equal chance of winning to all entrants, regardless of size or budget. All work is judged solely on its quality, creativity and resourcefulness. Entries are judged by industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry. They are judged against a high standard of excellence rather than against one another.

There were 3,312 entries from 48 states and eight foreign countries in the 2000 competition. Approximately 18 percent of the entries won the category. Other winners were major producers like ABN AMRO, Chicago; Boeing Satellite Systems, Los Angeles; Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich.; U.S. Air Force, Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and McGraw-Hill, Farmington, Conn.

The award is in recognition of the group's recent production of a unique marketing program for the College's distance-learning classes. Consisting of a miniature CD-ROM and accompanying Internet site, the program is used to explain Penn College's distance-learning program to new and prospective students. The program concept was developed by Fred Gilmour, director of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, who served as senior team leader. Other contributing team members included Alex Bierly, graphic designer; Bruce Huffman, digital media coordinator; Steve McDonald, instructional designer; Vicki Paulina, curriculum development coordinator; and Faith Lehman, student graphic designer. "We're all glad to have the opportunity to participate in these innovative projects because it brings together the special talents of everyone in the office to work as a team," Gilmour added.

The mini-CD is actually about the size of a business card and is used as an electronic "introduction" for companies who want to make a unique first impression. "When we first saw it in a promotional mailing, every one of us had the same response: 'COOL!' Gilmour said. "Being able to mail someone − or, even better, hand them − a CD-ROM-based program that automatically opens, contains color, sound, graphics and photos, plus automatically links to a World Wide Web site, is impressive.... It saves us a tremendous amount of time explaining the program again and again over the phone."

"Now, when students call, they have all the information they need and we can spend our time resolving their specific issues," he said.

The primary responsibility of the department is to support the instructional needs of faculty, whether that is in the area of data/projection equipment, custom-produced instructional programs or computer-based Internet instruction. Occasionally, department expertise is used to support the College's marketing effort by producing videotapes and commercials. They have produced many award-winning video programs in recent years, however this is the first multimedia product to win such an award. A similar product recently was completed for the College's Caterpillar Dealer Excellence Program. Distribution of that program will cover the entire Northeast regional service area of Caterpillar Inc.

The instructional technology office, like many others on campus, provides internship opportunities to students who want to pursue careers in a number of fields. Television and multimedia production are changing daily with digital technology having broad impact. "We're able to give students a real, 'hands-on' learning experience, using our own cutting-edge technology. They're having so much fun helping, they rarely complain about anything. When they do, it's usually because they have to leave at the end of the day!" Gilmour quipped.