Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Athletics, Immersive Learning

November 26, 2008

The next generation of sideline sports reporters and broadcasters is learning the craft at Ball State University by producing athletic events for a variety of media platforms, including radio, TV, the Web and mobile communications.

Telecommunications faculty members Tim PollardSuzy Smith and Rich Swingley, along with University Teleplex producer/director Bill Bryant, are leading students in the semester-long immersive learning class that builds upon the university's growing reputation as a leader in emerging media.

Pollard said the need for trained personnel in sports production has never been higher.

"More opportunities have been created as a result 24/7 sports networks, regional networks such as FSN and the Big Ten Network and an acceptance of Web-streamed video for viewing," he said. "Potential employers, as well as companies hiring freelancers, are looking for people that they can count on to come in on day one and produce material for multiple platforms."

To maintain a focus on cross-platform promotion, students repackage the feature stories they create for local use at Ball State and send them to local news stations and other media outlets in the hometown of the featured player — on any platform as required.

These packages include stories about Ball State's nationally ranked football team and many of its outstanding players.

Sports Link's Brandon Clemens, a telecommunications major from Goshen, Ind., has been on the sidelines of several Ball State soccer games in recent weeks, providing in-game insight to the audience.

"The main thing I like about it is that it's a real experience because we find the stories and create shows from scratch," Clemens said. "Sports Link also teaches us versatility. In today's media, news outlets are having to do more with less, which means as an on-air talent I also need to be able to shoot video, edit and produce. Sports Link gives me an opportunity to do all of those things."

In addition to providing the university with programming for both television and the Web, the students are responsible for creating remote live productions, taking advantage of the mobile capabilities of a high-definition production truck.

The immersion program also includes a focus on community involvement, as Pollard and telecommunications Associate Professor Maria Williams-Hawkins have brokered a unique partnership with the Indianapolis Public Schools system.

Once the Ball State students are familiar with the university's mobile production facilities, they will team up with students from several magnet schools to teach the high school students to produce their own events.