By a student on the Media Production Assistants Course, Spring 2001


The Media Production Assistant Experience

Walking through the doors of the towering office building on K Street I found myself armed with little more than a vague understanding of some program I was about to start. The million acronyms that seem to flow from that office each floated through my head. I was about to become an MPA for CDML.. What that alphabet soup meant I really had no idea, but I was about to find out.

Inside the building I found myself matched up with three other students who, I found out as we went around the room telling something about each other, came from very different parts of the university than myself. One guy was from the Economics Department, myself the Chemistry Department, and finally one who heard about the program and was just there to brush up on her skills. Even though there was more than a ten-year age gap between the youngest and the oldest of us we formed bonds as progressed through the MPA program.

After our instructor, Peter, gathered a little background information regarding our past experiences in everything from video to HTML we were thrust into our lessons that were tailored to backgrounds. Initially, I was impressed at the level of knowledge our instructor displayed, almost as if he was an authority figure on the presented material. After a little investigation of my own I discovered in fact he was an authority as he wrote the textbooks that are currently used in a number of different universities around the world.

As I grew up I had one teacher that had influenced me in many different aspects through out the years, and he always had one saying that I took to heart. "Learning is doing." The MPA program completely embodied that approach throughout the entire course. One of our many projects throughout the program involved giving us a light kit, camera, and acid-base titration equipment. We were given very simple instructions; make a video applying all the techniques taught in the course. Peter walked in, gave us our instructions, and walked out. Each of us produced a physical product we could burn on a CD and hold in our hand. We didnít just have a theory of how to complete a task, but an actual product created from our own experience. True, the video took many retries at lighting, and a few refocuses of the camera but we walked away with actual hands-on experience.

Walking out the doors of the building on K Street a few months later I found myself a true Media Production Assistant from the Center for Distance and Mediated Learning. I now have a knowledge bank that spreads wider than I could have imagined from this course encompassing lighting, cameras, sound, pictures, video compression, and all the way to course management. I have a set of physical and informational resources available to me from CDML as the need arises. But most importantly, I have had an experience that is unparalleled to any I could have expected from just one course. I have acquired valuable skills that I can take with me through the rest of my educational career and into life. The MPA program was an excellent investment of my time and has provided me with much more than I ever could have anticipated as I walked in those doors on K Street.

Zach Byers-Blaksmith