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Success Stories

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This Success Stories page describes the experiences of faculty and students with the Weigle Information Commons (Some stories are available in a printable PDF).
Browse the success stories on our new Pennwic blog. All success stories after April 2011 will be posted only on the blog.

The Art of Speaking
Dr. Sue Weber, Associate Director of Communication Within the Curriculum (CWiC), teaches COLL 135 - The Art of Speaking: CWiC Speaking Advisor Training in the WIC Seminar Room every spring semester. Her students have created podcasts where they discuss public speaking trades and techniques with prominent public speakers, including individuals from the Penn community. Sue reflects, "During this course, students prepare to become CWiC speaking advisors. The seminar room in the Weigle Information Commons is an ideal classroom because it houses the equipment students need to provide multimedia presentations and to facilitate interactive workshops. Participants are able to use the room's laptops for active learning exercises. They also often move to nearby booths to discuss collaborative projects. Finally, the large dry-erase board-wall encourages students to jointly make connections. " January 2011- updated from March 2007
GoogleMaps for City Comforts
Dr. Richard Berman has guided his students to create an absorbing map of Philadelphia with landmarks, photos, comments and a great storyline. Students explore poster and map design in the context of his People and Design course with assistance from WIC staff. December 2010
Nurturing Student Creativity with Video Projects
The Commons announced the release of Nurturing Student Creativity with Video Projects, a set of six digital case stories about University of Pennsylvania faculty and students, created as part of the national MERLOT ELIXR project. This two-year project includes faculty and student interviews, assignment details and examples of student-created videos, and includes Regina Austin (Penn Law), Peter Decherney (English and Cinema Studies), Louise Krasniewicz (Anthropology), Andrew Lamas (Urban Studies) and Jacqui Sadashige (Center for Programs in Critical Writing). November 2010
Students share tech experiences
At the Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium 2010, Peter Decherney, Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and English, facilitated a panel discussion with four Penn undergraduates - Rivka Fogel, Thomas Jansen, Pranav Merchant and Tatiana Peisach - about the ways in which new technologies enhance and reduce learning both in and out of class. Students spoke frankly and passionately about their interest in robust and flexible online collaboration tools for note-taking and study. October 2010
iWeb for Biology Lab Manuals
Dr. Eby Bassiri, Instructional Lab Coordinator for Biology, came to the Commons in June to explore improving biology lab manuals available only in PDF and hardcopy formats. Building on his experiences in an iWeb workshop, Eby has created an elegant Biology Lab Manuals website that links to a variety of multimedia resources. August 2010
Visual Studies Senior Projects 2010
Dr. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Director of the Program in Visual Studies, and Colette Copeland guided seven visual studies seniors to create vibrant websites showcasing their senior projects. WIC staff assisted students with web design software, scanning and graphic editing. The student created websites include interactive art galleries, photographs and original artwork. May 2010
Exploring Traditional Medicine Through Video Interviews
Sheyla Medina C'10, has used video interviews and multimedia to explore the intersections of traditional Ojibwe Indian medicine and western medicine with health care workers at the Cass Lake Indian Health Services Hospital. Her undergraduate research project is directed by Dr. Timothy Powell, Director of the Digital Partnerships with Indian Communities project, and assisted by Neal Swisher, a Penn Liberal and Professional Studies graduate student who has edited the video footage, and supported by a Seltzer Family Digital Media Award. March 2010
SCUE White Paper 2010: WIC is a Model to Replicate
In the White Paper on Undergraduate Education 2009-2010, the Student Committe on Undergraduate Eduation (SCUE) commented , "Creating more group study locations will promote the benefits of collaborative learning. Perhaps the model that is best to replicate is that evidenced by Weigle Information Commons. Students are encouraged to engage in an informal way with their classmates, allowing for a less intense and less stressful experience." (p. 35) February 2010
Video Projects in Anthropology
This multimedia faculty development module showcases the work of Louise Krasniewicz and includes video interviews with her students Tiffany Ortiz, Frank SmithMelissa Stangl and is funded through an ELIXR MERLOT grant. Louise and her students discuss creating videos to explore anthropological theories. January 2010
Public Health Photo Documentary
Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio led a project where students and Philadelphia residents documented public health concerns through photographs and interviews. Students used the WIC Seminar Room and Vitale Digital Media Lab to work with images and web content. The Health of Philadelphia Photo Documentation Project powerfully demonstrates connections between neighborhood context and public health, and attracted a WHYY article. December 2009
Documentary Magazine spotlights Austin course
Dr. Regina Austin leads the Documentaries and the Law Program at Penn Law School and her course on Visual Legal Advocacy includes Final Cut Pro training in the Vitale Digital Media Lab. The Fall 2009 issue of Documentary magazine features her work and the program website includes powerful video clips including one on Schmul Kaplan. November 2009
Family Weekend 2009
Over 100 people attended workshops here for Family Weekend. Weingarten Learning Resources Center and CWiC conducted workshops on the second floor and WIC organized workshops on student-created video and image and graphic editing. The WIC Family Weekend 2009 page has links to the video and graphics showcased and the main event schedule lists all activities. October 2009
Engaging Students Through Technology 2009
Six faculty presented to a packed lecture hall about specific technologies they use with their students. The symposium included a lively lunch in the WIC Data Diner Booths and a series of hands-on Tech Tasting sessions in the afternoon. Video clips and presentations are available online. September 2009
Video Projects in Writing Seminars
This multimedia faculty development module showcases the work of Jacqui Sadashige and includes video interviews with two students Danyal Kothari and Evan Dvorak, and is funded through an ELIXR MERLOT grant. Jacqui and her students speak eloquently about the excitement and rewards of video assignments. September 2009
Chinese Film Directors Website
Three Penn undergraduates Mr. Chongping Chen, Mr. Maosheng Dong and Ms. Xiaomeng Hu have created the Chinese Film Directors educational website for a class taught by Dr. Mera Moore Lafferty after a year of research, writing, and web design. The site describes 33 notable Chinese directors from the 1970s to the present with biographies and filmographies.
One of the directors, Mr. Sherwood Hu, commented, "The website is a meaningful home for the Chinese film directors, the first of its kind, which focuses on Chinese directors through the generations. Great job!" A student-led presentation will launch the website in September 2009. June 2009
Urban Education Journal Makeover
Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education is a student-run peer reviewed on-line journal published by the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. The editorial staff tapped the Vitale Digital Media Lab resources and staff expertise in Adobe InDesign to improve the design outlay of the journal. Comparing the before and after versions of the journal's front page shows the impact of images and visual logic. June 2009
From Assignments to References series
The From Assignments to References series, now in its third year, has proven to be effective in bringing together the expertise of WIC Program Partners. Dr. Fayyaz Vellani from the Writing Center presented an Edit and Revise workshop that inspired this comment:

May 2009
Update to Penn Libraries Board of Overseers
Students Julia Luscombe and Kristin Hall joined WIC Director Anu Vedantham in presenting an update to the Penn Libraries Board of Overseers. The students discussed their academic research and how WIC has fit into their academic activities. The director's presentation and handout documented growth in usage over the past three years. April 2009
Video Conversation with Rich Ross
Eleven College students spoke informally with Rich Ross, President, Disney Channels Worldwide via videoconference in the Weigle Information Commons and asked him questions about his career path and choices. Organized by the College Alumni Mentoring Series, the event was facilitated by the portable videoconferencing system from SAS Computing. February 2009
Second Life: Frank Conversations
Chia-Ying Pan from the Weingarten Learning Resources Center used the virtual roundtable in WIC's Second Life campus to host an informal conversation with international students. More than 25 students participated virtually and discussed academic integrity, intercultural communication, teamwork, grading system differences and strategies for class participation. Chia-Ying observed that attendance was high in Second Life and questions were frank and clear. February 2009
Faux Film Trailers: Mashup Video
The students in Louise Krasniewicz' Anthropology and the Cinema course in Spring 2008 created mix-and-match film trailers that highlight, compare and contrast iconic moments in well-known movies. Their Video Showcase includes five of the twenty-six videos created. February 2009
Going Digital: Electronic Literature and Wikipedia
The students in Mara Mills' Science, Technology and Society course studied electronic literature using the multimedia facilities at the Information Commons. They also received instruction in the philosophy and design of Wikis, after which they constructed their own pages related to the history of technology. Student Eileen Mckeown commented, "Our seminar at Weigle Information Commons helped us take our classroom learnings and turn them into our own project. After our training, making the wiki was fun and simple, even for those of us without any experience." January 2009
Undergraduate Research - Poster Session
Undergraduates regularly use the Vitale Digital Media Lab to create posters and videos to document course and research activities. Four School of Arts and Sciences undergraduates describe their research projects in video segments from Family Weekend in the SAS Frontiers email newsletter. Their posters are showcased online. December 2008
Comic Book Creation - Showcase of Student Work
Several faculty members have begun exploring assignments based on Comic Life software - an easy way for students to storyboard, plan out their thoughts and create vibrant graphic novels and comic books. Louise Krasniewicz assigned a new media project to her spring 2008 Anthropology and the Cinema class. She has selected six student comic books for our Comic Life Showcase. Click on each book to see the student creations in PDF format. October 2008
Thinking Creatively about Video Assignments - A Conversation with Penn Faculty
This series of video clips brings together five faculty - Regina Austin, Peter Decherney, Louise Krasniewicz, Andrew Lamas and Jacqui Sadashige - whose students have created movies as class assignments. The discussion is informal, with comments on assignment design, setting expectations, assessing student work and project planning.September 2008
Philadelphia in Posters
Dr. Richard Berman asked his Urban Studies students to design posters to showcase good architectural decisions in Philadelphia. Posters printed in the Media Lab include beautiful examples of graphic design including these posters by Marina Bernal, Scott Kyle and Lauren Priori. May 2008
First Annual Report
The first annual report for the Weigle Information Commons summarizes activities and usage from April 2006 to December 2007. The annual report is available online.February 2008
German students collaborate through Chat and Wiki
Ed Dixon, SAS Coordinator for Technology in Foreign Languages, taught German 101 this semester using PC laptops in the WIC Seminar Room. His students used Blackboard chat and wiki tools extensively.
Ed commented, "The seminar room helped me greatly to achieve what I wanted with my students. They were able to collaborate online and continue collaboration at home. The movie reviews that the students wrote about in a wiki in BlackBoard and the chats that they produced outside of class collaboratively are the best examples of student work I have thus far for a GRMN101 class."December 2007
Doctoral students connect to India via Skype Videoconference
Folklore doctoral candidate Eric Miller, founder of the Graduate Student Videoconference Series, and Psychology doctoral candidate Athena Aktipis discussed clinical and research psychology via videoconference with Magdalene Jeyarathnam, the director of the Center for Counselling in Chennai, India. They used the built-in camera on the WIC's MacBook Pro laptop and free Skype videoconferencing software in a group study room.
Mr. Miller commented, "My dissertation concerns ethnographic videoconferencing - the use of videoconferencing to study cultures. Unlike photography or video, videoconferencing enables people of the culture being studied to speak directly for themselves. I would encourage members of Penn's academic community to explore videoconferencing -- I have enjoyed doing so very much! Skype is just one of many programs available. "October 2007
Clickers facilitate discussion on controversial topics
Graduate School of Education faculty member Susan Yoon used the WIC's handheld clickers to poll the mid-career doctoral students in her Technology Education in the 21st Century course. The K-12 school administrators appreciated the ability to vote anonymously. They chose "critical thinking" as the most important learning skill from a list of possibilities. The clickers allowed immediate graphical feedback and stimulated discussion.
Professor Yoon described, "Students became quite passionate while defending their selections. Being able to visualize how the group as a whole responded to the question provided fodder for rich argument on the issue. It was very successful!" June 2007
Critical Writing Seminars in Cinema and Asian American Studies
Dr. Jacqueline Sadashige has enlisted the services of the Digital Media Lab and their staff for two final projects. In the fall, each of her courses created running commentaries for feature length films. Each class chose one film to work on collaboratively, and each student chose a chapter of the DVD on which to comment. After scripting their commentaries, students used the lab to record their text for playback as an alternative to the film's own audio track. This spring, teams of students in both courses created trailers and pitches for imaginary projects (ranging from remixes of pre-existing films to a mock campaign ad). Students were given an initial tutorial in iMovie, and several class sessions took place in the lab to allow students time to work on their final projects.
Dr. Sadashige commented, "The lab contains a wealth of equipment, but it's the dedicated staff that has made these projects possible. Their generosity and patience have really encouraged me to be more creative with my syllabus! As a result, my students have not only broadened their understanding of the subject material, but the multi-media nature of this work has literally shifted the parameters of what it means to think and write." April 2007
Garage Band and William Burroughs
English faculty member Mara Mills brought her "Sound Studies" class to the Media Lab for a lesson in audio sampling and mixing with GarageBand. Students remixed a cut-up by William Burroughs as part of their unit on the history and theory of sound recording. March 2007
Cinema Studies and Narrative Studies courses use WIC Seminar Room
After teaching for the past two semesters in the WIC Seminar Room, Dr. Valerie Ross, Director of the Critical Writing Program, summarizes her experience, "The Information Commons is a superb space for collaborative learning. The resources are phenomenal, and the staff is friendly, helpful, knowledgeable. Last year, many of my cinema studies students, working on collaborative film projects, relied on the multimedia staff for guidance on laying down sound and film editing. Some turned to the writing tutor for feedback on their screenplays and analyses, and to the CWiC tutor to help them sharpen their story pitches. They found the booths ideal for hammering out script and casting differences.

This semester my Narrative Studies class meets in the Info Commons seminar room, an amazing base for a collaboratively-driven research-writing seminar. The room is beautifully equipped and the location couldn't be better: every resource imaginable is at my students' fingertips as they work toward their final research projects and collaborative short documentaries. Having laptops in the room, we can move with ease from discussion to writing, revising, and researching; having booths right outside the room, students can break out and work on their collaborative projects and peer reviews.

I am astonished to see how the space and its services are transforming my teaching and my students as they continue to take greater control of the process and production of knowledge. At home in the library, increasingly prepared to avail themselves of the many resources and experts available to them, my students are becoming scholars: god save them one and all." March 2007

Advanced Film/Video class takes on Mashup Contest
Fine Arts faculty member Dr. Nadia Hironaka has assigned creating entries for the Mashup Contest as a spring 2007 extra credit assignment for her Advanced Film/Video students. Students are creating parody trailers for commercial films by editing and/or creating new footage.March 2007
Podcasting and the Critical Writing Seminar in Science, Technology, and Society
As the final project for a critical writing seminar focused on Internet culture and communications, the associate director of the Critical Writing Program, Dr. Patrick Wehner, had his class create podcast tours of Philadelphia. Working in small groups, students decided on a tour theme and wrote a script; recorded interviews, soundtracks, and voiceover narration; added maps and still photographs; and edited their final podcasts using software available in the Vitale lab. While venturing outside the classroom and exploring Philadelphia's neighborhoods, the students applied their semester's lessons about writing description and narration, making effective use of research, and communicating their ideas for a specific goal and audience.

Dr. Wehner commented, "The equipment and support in the Weigle Information Commons made it possible for my class to go beyond reading and analyzing emerging forms of writing and experience some of the challenges for themselves. Both the process and the product were more meaningful because we were able to take advantage of WIC." February 2007
Team Writing using Group Study Booths
Penn Writing Fellow Dr. T. Mera Moore Lafferty conducted team writing projects in the booths and open space areas for her Critical Writing Seminars in fall 2006 and spring 2007. In fall 2007, her Global English for Multilingual Writers students will reserve the booth area for two hours each week for collaborative writing activities. February 2007
Video editing for Victim Impact Statements
Penn Law faculty member Dr. Regina Austin is teaching students to produce video victim impact statements and clemency or pardon petitions. To assist the students in developing treatments and shooting scripts for legal clients, they are introduced to multimedia editing techniques. The Media Lab conducted an iMovie workshop customized for their needs. February 2007