Live From London: Ball State’s Best Take on Olympics
The calling card of Ball State is its commitment to what it calls “immersive learning.” This summer, the state-run research university in Muncie, IN, is more than living up to its promise.
Forty students from across the school — Telecommunications, Journalism, Sports Administration, Public Relations — are all coordinating on “BSU at the Games,” a multiplatform offering that aims to tell the best stories that the 2012 Olympic Games have to offer.
“I’m not sure if we’ve ever had anything quite so large as 40 students all together traveling to a different country in a major city, doing a major job at the biggest event in the world,” says Ryan Sparrow, instructor of journalism at Ball State, who is in London with his students. “I would like to think that this is the pinnacle of what immersive learning is.”
Ball State Sports Link has been producing original videos since the beginning of July, helping drum up some attention before the Games began last week. Sports Link’s content is being sent directly to bsuatthegames.com, as well as to the project’s social-media channels, which are being directed by public-relations students.
BSU at the Games has partnered with numerous media entities to distribute its video and print content to the masses. Sports Link videos were used by various U.S. Olympic bodies (Swimming, Boxing, and Gymnastics) on their Websites as a lead-up to the Games. NBC affiliate WTHR Indianapolis is on hand reporting live nightly from the Games and, during its broadcasts, is using footage and profiles shot by Ball State students.
Sports Link will also be producing a post-Olympics show when the team returns from London. The hour-long show will air locally in Muncie, across the state on Comcast, and on Fox College Sports Network and will feature some of the best pieces produced during the Games.
“This project was funded to bring together cross-platform journalists and digital-sports-media–production students to create a unique learning opportunity,” says Tim Pollard, chair, Department of Telecommunications at Ball State. “How many chances do students get to work an Olympics and create content that will be read, and seen, by an outside audience?”
Timely videos and print features will be released throughout the Olympics, and Ball State students will continue to report on the events in London while meeting with athletes on their off days to work on more-personal, in-depth features.
“It’s all about relationships,” says Chris Taylor, instructor, telecommunications, sports, at Ball State, who has been in London since July 15 with Sports Link grad assistant Alex Kartman. “We have to make sure [the athletes] know what we can do and offer it back to them.”
Another key partnership for BSU at the Games is with Tribune Co. For the journalism students, articles and feature stories will be shared with, and can potentially be used by, Tribune newspapers. Students are also designing graphics for Tribune Co. — specifically, the Chicago Tribune — for print, online, and its iPad app.
For the staff and students from Ball State, coordination is key to getting the most from all of its talent and resources.
“In the beginning, we were very much separate teams,” says Sparrow. “We all saw each other, but there wasn’t any common unity. That’s the biggest thing we have seen in even just two days: that we are writing stories that are going with videos and it’s all kind of clicking into place.”
Keep up with BSU at the Games by visiting its Website bsuatthegames.com. Also follow on Twitter at @BSUattheGames, like on Facebook at facebook.com/bsuatthegames, and check out its YouTube page at youtube.com/user/bsuatthegames.