Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?

Master’s in Emerging Media draws from many disciplines

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Ball State University’s new master’s program in Emerging Media Design & Development is a graduate degree designed for the 21st century; it draws students from diverse backgrounds into a holistic learning environment in Year 1 and provides hands-on experience in the Applied Research and Creative Projects labs in Year 2.

The Center for Emerging Media Design & Development aims to advance students’ creative problem solving skills and develop a graduate-level workforce with practical experience in storytelling, applied research, and development in digital strategic communication design. The Center has forged partnerships with Circle of Blue, Professor Garfield and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to provide students with real-world experience. The program has both on-campus and online information sessions coming up for those interested in learning more.

We asked a couple students in the program to find out more about who they are and what they’re hoping to gain from this program. Here’s what they said.


Aiste Manfredini

Aiste was born in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and raised in the greater Chicago area. She earned her bachelor’s degree in magazine media from Ball State. During her time as an undergrad, she became involved with Global Brigades, an international nonprofit that assists communities in meeting their health and economic goals. As a sophomore, Aiste founded a Ball State chapter of Global Brigades and led the organization as chair. She has a passion for sustainability and is particularly interested in learning about sustainable design and social entrepreneurship. When she’s not studying, in class or working at her graduate assistantship in the Unified Media Lab, she enjoys cooking, traveling and practicing yoga. 

Why EMDD at Ball State?

I chose EMDD because I wanted to learn how to combine my passion for storytelling and social activism to solve the world’s biggest problems.

How are you applying your skills in the program?

Throughout my undergraduate experience I developed skills in longform storytelling and news reporting, team management and leadership. Since I started studying EMDD, I’ve applied and developed these skills to lead and organize project teams and create digital and physical experiences that engage people with an important story.

How do you hope to apply what you’re learning in EMDD in your future career?

I hope to apply the skills I learn from EMDD to organizations in the social and environmental sector. I want to help organizations tell their big story and create projects that engage and motivate their audience to take action. Someday I would love to start a social enterprise.

What has been the most challenging part of the program/graduate school so far?

The first semester of graduate school was stressful for me because of the transition from an undergraduate-level workload to a graduate-level workload. Big difference! In the beginning, the EMDD program was challenging because there was a lot of uncertainty when it came to creating and developing new projects. Our professors didn’t tell project teams what to create; we were challenged to figure it out for ourselves.

How did you spend your winter break?

I spent a lot of time reading for pleasure, visiting family and catching up on sleep.

What has been your favorite grad school class so far? Why?

My favorite class so far has been Interactive Media Design and Development. Students have been assigned to collaborate with various project partners to develop a working system using design thinking and transmedia storytelling. My project team and I are collaborating with Circle of Blue, an online source that reports on global water issues, to build an engagement project that focuses on the value of water. This collaborative project experience has been challenging and a lot of fun.

LynchJared Lynch

Jared is from Columbia City, Indiana. He earned his undergrad degree in creative writing from Ball State, but his technology skills help land him a graduate assistantship with the Nursing SITC–essentially tech support for the School of Nursing. He also helps with simulations for undergrad students, meaning there’s a room set up like a hospital room, with a dummy on the bed. Jared’s in a control room, following along with the scenario the student is running through, changing the vital signs of the dummy, as well as occasionally providing the voice of the dummy. It’s a pretty interesting job, he says. This summer he plans to learn more about one of his passions: music software.


Why EMDD at Ball State?

I chose the EMDD program first and foremost because I’m interested in transmedia storytelling. I’m a writer and a storyteller, and I’m curious about the future of storytelling. Secondly, I was intrigued by the concept of design thinking, which I was introduced to during the information session I attended during my senior year. It frustrated me, but in a good way, and I wanted to learn more about it because I didn’t understand it.

How are you applying your skills in the program?

There is a great deal of writing involved in the creation and documentation of the experiences  we create, so I’ve definitely been able to apply my written communication skills at virtually all steps of the process. I’m also a creative person, and I feel like I bring a different perspective to our brainstorming sessions and the ideation part of the process.

How do you hope to apply what you’re learning in EMDD in your future career?

My main goal in this program is learning how to be an experience designer. I’m focusing on how to create these transmedia and interactive experiences because I want to create spaces where people can feel and fully experience stories in unique ways, and in ways that will stick with them and  be truly memorable.

What has been the most challenging part of the program/graduate school so far?

The beginning of the first semester was really brutal. I definitely floundered for a while and felt like I was drowning a bit. It was difficult because there weren’t many clear-cut, definite answers to things, at least in the sense that I was used to in class. Once I fully got into the mindset that I had to find the answers myself (and I also realized that everyone else felt as lost as I did) things improved. This semester is going to involve more work than the first, but I’m not nearly as anxious about it. I think the most challenging part was getting into the proper headspace, but I don’t think there’s an easy, straightforward way to do that. You just kind of have to push through until you get there, and things start to make sense.

How did you spend your winter break?

I spent my winter break working on a short story that I’ve been writing since April. Parts of this thing have truly been pulling teeth. I originally thought it was going to be around 1,500-2,000 words, but it just grew and grew. As it stands, it’s 7,100 words. I also finished an album that I began in 2012. I composed the bulk of it in January to April 2012, but since I had a demo version of the software, I was unable to export any of the songs. I got a temporary full version of the software, and I finally finished it. I felt really great about that because it’s just been simmering for all this time.

What has been your favorite grad school class so far? Why?

My favorite class that we’ve finished has definitely been transmedia storytelling. I loved how hands-on it was. As far as current classes goes, I really like our seminar class. It’s great to talk to people who are actually working in this field and making (or failing at) the type of experiences I want to make in the future.


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