Contributors to Digital OZ -- digitaloz.oswego.edu -- work with the college's Creativity Lab and take a one-credit course mentored by English and creative writing faculty members Leigh Allison Wilson, director of the Interdisciplinary Programs and Activities Center (IPAC), and Stephanie Pritchard, co-director of the Creativity Lab inside IPAC in Marano Campus Center.
Inspired by an encounter at a student conference three years ago, Wilson said, "I realized that every one of our students has a story about what made them passionate about their discipline and interests. It's true. We've gotten dozens of them to share their stories now."
Students over the past two years have prepared work for Digital OZ in four categories: Originate, Pioneer, Transform and Collaborate. The media for their presentations are as varied as the students' interests: animation, spoken-word poetry, video, still photos, illustration, graphic art -- all augmented by the text of each piece's script.
"The students who get nominated for this really are passionate people," Wilson said. "They are passionate about what they do, and they do what they love very well."
Storytelling on Digital OZ reflects that passion, such as the capstone film of animator Peter Myers, who graduated in 2015 in cinema and screen studies; the transformative experience of senior human development major Julie Barton, who worked with at-risk youths in the Mentor Oswego program; and junior biology major Emily Rundle's story about freeing herself from a threatening high school relationship.
Pritchard said the students who participate do so willingly and passionately. "It's nice working with students who really, really want to be here. They're excited to be here and they want this project to represent who they are as individual people," she said. "I think they all do a fantastic job with that."
Serving the audience
Besides serving as a showcase for student scholarly, creative and collaborative work, Wilson said she believes Digital OZ offers high school students considering SUNY Oswego and the college's alumni a window on what today's students are really like.
Digital OZ contributors "all want to create a connection with somebody else out there, and maybe make a difference for them," Wilson said. "I told them to imagine high school students trying to decide whether to come here, and what they could do not only to show how much they've come to love Oswego, which they all have, but also to show these high school students that they could have a home here -- that the kids here have gone through what they are going through."
She added that Digital OZ should appeal to alumni, to let them know what today's students are thinking and feeling, and to make them feel they're at home here, too.
"A lot of these kids who are telling their stories owe some of the help they've gotten while they've been here to alumni, and it just seems that it's a way to give back to the alums who have been supporting them," Wilson said.
Another goal of the project is to provide students with a head start on their professional digital presence. At the end of each semester, a representative of the Compass student success center talks with the class about creating a professional website.
"I do think our students need to graduate from SUNY Oswego understanding how to convey what they are thinking or feeling, what their passions are, in a multimedia way. They'll certainly be asked to present in complex ways after they graduate," Wilson said.
Students taking the five-week course, "Creating Digital Presentations for Digital OZ," work with Pritchard, Wilson and librarians in the Creativity Lab, using tablet computers provided by a Campus Technology Services Technology Initiative Project grant.
Visit digitaloz.oswego.edu for this new window on creative and scholarly life at SUNY Oswego.