United by a shared passion for journalism –  Inform, Inspire and Engage (IIE)

The scholars and Retha Hill in the audio studio

The SUSI Scholar 2024 program is an intensive learning experience. It goes far beyond traditional academic boundaries. The program delves into a diverse array of topics designed to inform, inspire and engage. Hosted by the prestigious Cronkite school of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State university, this program brought together Journalism & Media faculty and professionals from around the globe, all united by a shared passion for journalism and its vital role in democratic societies. The program’s structure was a perfect blend of academic rigour and practical exposure. Kudos to Prof. Dawn Gilpin and Ms. Kate Devine for all their hard work, commitment and dedication to this program. 

A composite of photos: one general from the classroom, the other with a scholar receiving a birthday gift
(Photos by Ravi Kumar Kakumanu & Gayane Mirzoyan)

Mind-blowing MIX and a bolt from the blue

The day began with a review of our visit to to the MIX (Media and Immersive eXperience) Center. It was a testament to the transformative power of cutting-edge technology. Everyone opined that the visit was a real eye opener and the immersive experience was absolutely mind-blowing. The surprise birthday wishes, donuts and Gamcha were a bolt from the blue and Dr. Sabir from Dubai, who calls himself a reluctant academician, could hardly believe it.

Scholars present ideas for using immersive technologies to attract students to study media
(photoS by Gayane Mirzoyan)

Transformative technology, Immersive learning and Increased engagement

Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) are revolutionizing the way we perceive and interact with the world around us. They offer unprecedented possibilities for creativity, connection, and collaboration. As AR and VR continue to evolve, they promise to reshape the very fabric of our daily lives, making the extraordinary an everyday experience. Ms. Retha Hill, the executive director of the Cronkite School’s New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, highlighted the pivotal role of immersive technology in today’s evolving world to provide an emotional connection to people that makes them unable to live without it. Along these lines, the scholars were asked to give a presentation on “Harnessing immersive technology to narrate a story.” All the scholars gave stunning presentations on the pressing themes of society such as climate change reporting, fact checking, environmental reporting, and media studies to name a few, emphasizing the utilization of transformative technology that focuses on enhanced learning experiences, increased engagement, better visualizations and much more.

Composite of photos from the Cronkite Digital Audiences lab where the scholars learned immersive storytelling techniques
(photoS by Ravi Kumar Kakumanu)

AI tools : Hands on experience

In order to establish credibility and impart knowledge to learners, as educators, it is crucial to become well-acquainted with the available generative AI tools. This afternoon, we had hands-on experience in exploring generative AI tools like spatial.io (for creating a virtual gallery) D-ID (of convert an image into audio-video), leonardo.ai (to generate a virtual avatar), lumalabs.ai (to produce 3D objects) and futuretools.io (a site that collects a variety of AI tools). The notable point here is that these tools are available for free and, without needing to lift a finger for coding, allow one to produce captivating galleries and incredible works. Thus, teaching students and letting them experiment with these tools becomes a breeze. I used to ask my students to maximize the use of chatGPT for generating content, but now we have more options at our fingertips. Hill’s expertise, combined with student assistant Whitney Whitlock’s support during practical sessions, were highly appreciated, informative and engaging.

For anyone passionate about immersive technology, let your curiosity meet insight and ideas come to life.