Each semester, upper class students from across Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media come together to create comprehensive modern storytelling experiences for the Transmedia Projects course. The students adopt an organization, social issue or human-interest story and split into groups to create transmedia content for their real or hypothetical client.
Although some of these organizations are located here on campus, others are located in different parts of the world. “That’s one thing I like to do is find international clients, because then they bring something different,” said transmedia professor Sonja Bozic. “I like students to be exposed to different cultures and think outside of the American concept.”
During the fall semester, Bozic’s classes worked with a client from Slovenia, whose institution aimed to create stronger communication between doctors and patients. Students worked together to create targeted messaging for patients both young and old, incorporating modern technology like apps and even the Amazon Echo.
“What happens in each transmedia class, not only this one, is that collaborators are usually like oh! I didn’t think about that,” Bozic said of her students’ ideas. “It’s always that ‘aha’ moment.”
In a project closer to home, Professor Tara Conley’s fall semester students worked with the Red Hawk Food Pantry to create a 90s sitcom spoof focused around food insecurity on campus. The video project was filmed in SCM’s very own Studio B and was even featured on the Montclair State Alumni Twitter page.
Another project that came out of Conley’s class was Toxic Force, which revolved around the lesser-known issue of online bullying in the Star Wars fandom community.
This semester, students in Conley’s classes are working on projects that range from portrayal of female superheroes in the Marvel franchise to Resident Life on Montclair State’s campus. Each group, regardless of the organization or cause they’re working with, is responsible for creating a video piece as well as a digital guide. Some students may also choose to incorporate social media components into their projects.
Professor Larry Weiner’s students, who previously did work with the Metropolitan Opera, are currently working on one combined project. Each group is responsible for creating one chapter of a larger e-book, which will aid middle school teachers in implementing transmedia projects in the classroom.
Regardless of the class section they are in, students in each course use their individual backgrounds and expertise to create a project that has as many facets as the School of Communication and Media itself.
“It’s funny, since not all of us have the same major, you would think that there would be a huge difference working together,” said Senior Emily Smith, who is currently a student in Weiner’s class. “But it’s really not much different! We all understand that communication is key when you’re working in big groups, and therefore, we are able to get a lot done.”
Although every project is unique in context, students in each class section leave the course with the tools they need to collaborate creatively and innovate with peers.
“Transmedia is just one big collaboration,” said Senior Samantha Easterday. “It’s really cool seeing all these completely different elements coming together to support one common thing.”