The summer started early for us, aka right as the spring semester ended.
The Arden Effect
Anthony Defends Ph.D.
Leo Interns at the Institute of Data Science as a Media Specialist
The Media Lab Goes Social Media Media Lab
Capirotada Collective – Group & Meet Up
Latinx Critical Creative Consortium Planning
Lab Collaborations (UHDT & TAMU SA Latinx Oral Histories)
The Arden Effect
Arden Duffield is a Media Lab enigma, someone who professor joey met at a coffee shop in downtown Bryan when he was shooting a student film in high school. Professor joey loved seeing a hungry film maker out doing the work, along with Professor Jonathan Guajardo, they let Arden know if he was ever interested in working with the lab in the future to feel free to reach out.
Fast forward to late April 2022 and professor joey was surprised to receive an email from Arden inquiring about summer plans for the lab and any possible projects. Arden had just finished up his Freshman year at the School of Visual Arts in New York city and spoke of a film he was finishing up and wanted to show us. Next thing the lab knew, Arden became a pillar at the lab working for weeks straight on color correcting his short film and then working on the scoring and sound. His presence brought so much to the lab, everyone who came through he interacted with such enthusiasm and empathy, it was simply amazing having him in the lab.
Throughout the summer Arden would end collaborating with multiple lab members, like Anthony Ramirez, Leo, Kali, joey, Johnny (they played a lot of chess), Rick. He even guest lectured at professor joey’s class which was amazing!
Arden embodies the spirit of the Media Lab, a place where students can come from all over and learn, collaborate and ideate.
Dr. Anthony Ramirez Defends His Dissertation
Dr. Anthony Ramirez defended his dissertation on August 10th, 2022. The title of his dissertation is Historias de la Frontera: Using Critical Latinx Border – Cultural Studies Theory To Explore The Latinx Identity of The U.S.-Mexico Border in Comic Books. His defense committee consisted of:
Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian – Co-Advisor
Dr. Antonio La Pastina – Co-Advisor
Dr. Robin Means Coleman – Committee Member
Dr. Juan Alonzo – Committee Member
Anthony spent four years at Texas A&M as a fully funded Ph.D. student where he performed 2 years of course work and 2 years of dissertation research and publishing. In addition to being an amazing scholar, Anthony proved himself as an amazing teaching, being awarded the Texas A&M University Association Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Teaching. In addition to his preparing for his dissertation defense this summer, he also fielded a number of job offers and we are proud to say he accepted a Assistant Professorship, tenure track position at the University of Houston Downtown in the Department of Art & Communication, go Gators! He plans to start a lab there and we cannot wait to be co-hosting events and experiential learning opportunities.
Leo Interns at Institute of Data Science as a Media Specialist
Through our collaboration with Annie Ortiz and her “Painting Praxis: Artistry, Identity and Decolonial Sensibilities,” we had last spring, Media Lab member Leo Garza ended up meeting Diego Rodriguez, TAMU’s Assistant Director for Education Programs. Leo became the Institute of Data Science Media Specialist and through a collaboration we provided production equipment for his internship to create documentation of the Institute of Data Science’s summer initiatives. You can see a video he worked on below:
The Media Lab Goes Social Media
We are proud to announce we have developed and now maintain a social media presence on Instagram and TikTok. Please like and subscribe!
The Capirotada Collective was founded by then graduate students Samantha Ceballos Sosa, Ana Gutierrez, Hector Garza, and Dr. Anthony Ramirez. It has since grown to include many others such as professor joey, Dr. Corina Zavala, James Yu, and Valentina Auden.
The collective is planning on various projects, but for now, you can follow them here:
Taking place in the Fall of 2022, the Latinx Critical Consortium is a continuation of the 1st Latinx CCC held in the Fall of 2021 at UT Austin. Durning the summer, joey lopez, Regina Mills, Anthony Ramirez began collaborating with professors from all over Texas to ideate the Consortium and it’s themes. Latinxccc.org was established and the framework of the consortium has been developed there since.
The lab saw many upgrades over the summer with a full podcasting setup developed. We also had professor Jonathan Guajardo provide additional equipment with a new Sony A6400, 70-200 G series lens, Black Magic Atom video switcher and other production equipment to help us further develop multi-modal media production capabilities.
Spring 2022 was definitely a semester of learning and re-learning as we came fully back to teaching in person, maskless. As new media professors we are always learning new ways to engage with the students, re-think our course materials, andragogical approaches and in general facilitate a “creative space.” This semester definitely caused us to reflect on our courses and appreciate the relationships we fostered with our students and as colleagues.
Below you will find Dr. XIaofei Song’s, Ph.D. Candidate Anthony Ramirez’s, Jonathan Guajardo’s and joey’s reflections on the their semester and see examples of student work. We hope you all find this useful whether you are a student or a professor.
Dr. Xiaofei Song
A notable change this semester was a reflection video to be made after students complete their projects. This was a change from the former behind-the-scenes documentation assignment. The reflection video allowed students to not only showcase their project creation process, but also reflect on this process. Students often discussed how being a content creator gave one a very different POV from that of the audiences, such as recording a live conversation from afar versus listening to a film’s well-captured, noise-free audio; or filming a cooking tutorial video in one’s kitchen versus watching a popular cooking video on YouTube. For many, such a different POV also brought challenges as the individuals aimed to make their projects as professional-sounding/looking as the “ideals” everyone sees on popular media; and overcoming the challenges naturally became a goal that many students constantly worked on during the semester.
In addition to the reflection on technical aspects, students made remarks of how creating the projects had helped them to build a deeper connection with the subject matter (i.e. project topics of their choice), which ranged from rebranding through social media to getting involved in faith-based student organizations. Students also mentioned skills they didn’t expect to learn yet had fun learning on their own, such as InDesign for making contents for a social media page.
Seeing from an instructor’s perspective, I also found it interesting that students seemed to be somewhat more sincere and thoughtful in this reflection than in a BTS documentation. Maybe it was because the reflection encouraged the students to emphasize on themselves/their roles as the content creators more so than a content-focus documentation, and maybe it was just because the term “reflection” sounded more personalized than “documentation”. Overall, I was glad to see this trial of change worked well enough as part of the learning assessment for COMM 230. In the meantime, students’ reflections indicated success in COMM 230’s main pedagogical goals – to learn through creating projects that exude one’s passion, and to motivate students to become motivated learners.
This spring semester was great but incredibly fast paced. As per usual, I always get reflective on my past semester and ask myself what can I do better and what did I do well? I had the privilege of teaching COMM 230 – Communication and Technology Skills for the first time ever. I was incredibly excited to teach this course as I have become more and more interested in project based learning. One of the things I learned this semester is that I struggled to find a balance of how to teach a class like this as I was not used to this style of teaching. I am very discussion oriented and do include project based learning in my classes, but this class pushed me to think both critically and creatively, which I encouraged my students to do as well. What I mean by that is that, I had to think about how I wanted to teach my students how to develop various technology skills, but also how to be creative in the process of things. I really started to find “my groove” after spring break and felt like I was helping my students as best as I could. I was incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful group of students who wanted to use this class to learn new media techniques and to have fun. One of my educational philosophies is that education should be fun. This class was fun for me, and I wanted my students to make awesome and fun projects! I was so happy to see that my students exceeded my expectations and beyond. One thing I want to improve on is setting a foundation for my students to be creative. I noticed this was one thing my students struggled with and I felt that I could teach or facilitate better. I have already begun to think of ways to set this foundation for this class and other classes moving forward. Additionally, I know I need to improve and continue to learn technological skills regarding video editing and photography even more. I used this class as a beginner’s crash course of technology skills, new media techniques, and portfolio building. I not only want to improve my skills for my students, but for myself as well, as I want to learn how to be a better photographer and to continue to make short films. With all being said and done, I enjoyed and learned so much about my teaching styles while being an instructor for COMM 230 – Communication and Technology Skills. Moving forward, I want to continue to use the skills I’ve learned and lay more building blocks to the foundation I have built while teaching this course.
Although I went into the Spring with a lightened course load (purposefully, because I was getting married to my best friend and life partner, Areeba, on March 12th), this past semester was anything but light in terms of productivity and creative work. I only taught 4 courses this semester (the basic Lecturer workload) instead of the usual 5 with an additional Public Speaking course. These courses were as follows: COMM 377 New Media and Entrepreneurship, COMM 476 Advanced Social Media, and two sections of COMM 250 New Media and the Independent Voice. I also acted as Course Director of COMM 275: Introduction to Social Media and used this semester to monitor the course in its current form so I can work on some alterations that I’d like to make next semester.
This Spring was also my second semester teaching COMM 377: New Media and Entrepreneurship, and one of my main goals was to continue building communities like I had in Fall’s 377 cohort. As the first semester fully back in-person from COVID-19 distance learning, that class found a home for themselves in the COMM 377 learning environment. This new Spring cohort had just as much passion for building community as last semester’s and featured many new enterprises that spanned a variety of industries. I will make a separate detailed post about this course, but this class’ collaboration and ingenuity are definitely worth noting in my Spring summary.
In addition to my teaching work, I began collaborating with Undergraduate Coordinator Nancy Street and the New Media Lab’s own Dr. Joey Lopez to work on building a minor in New Media Production. I will make another more in-depth post about this proposal, but it is worth noting that this is the culmination of a dream that I had when I was looking for colleges to apply to out of high school. While it had been a lifelong dream of mine to attend Texas A&M University as a Freshman in 2009, the only reason I even investigated other universities (and eventually accepted a full-scholarship to UIW) was due to the lack of a production-centric Communication program at A&M. It is my hope that this program, in addition to our New Media Lab, will provide an academic home for students who are interested in growing more as producers and curators of existing and emerging forms of New Media.
Another memorable Spring moment occurred towards the end of the Spring, when I decided to apply to the Ph.D. program in Higher Education at Texas Tech University and was accepted for admission in the Fall of 2022. For everyone reading this who knows my strong love and affinity for Texas A&M, there might be some confusion as to why I would look into continuing my education in Raiderland and not Aggieland. In short, I’m becoming a Red Raider to stay an Aggie Prof. I want to be able to stay teaching full-time at Texas A&M while having the freedom to obtain my Ph.D. in an online format from another Tier 1 research university. Right now, I’m looking to focus my doctoral studies on extending the research that I did into Black Mountain College for my Master’s capstone thesis, but adapt it to the way teaching and learning communities have evolved with the advent of new communicative technologies, especially in a post-Covid collaborative environment. I’m super excited to begin the journey towards my terminal degree and I look forward to the amazing learning opportunities and insightful colleagues that I can meet in this new program.
All-in-all, this semester was a whirlwind of blessings, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds both in our work in the Communication Department here at Texas A&M and IN my own educational journey at Texas Tech. Gig ‘Em and Wreck ‘Em!
Wow! What a semester! This semester really took me on a roller coaster. The students were so excited to be back, but at the same time I could tell so much personal interaction was exhausting and tiring. Watching the resilience of the students play out throughout the semester was great. I taught 4 courses this semester:
COMM 275 Introduction to Social Media
I had never taught COMM 275 before so I used the common syllabus which did not include projects, so unfortunately I do not have any projects to show from it, however I did learn if I were ever asked to teach that course again I would definitely make it all project based learning and have some great ideas. I believe maintaining a blog reflecting on various social media topics covered throughout the course with vlogging check-in’s would go a long way.
COMM 230 Technology Skills
COMM 230 definitely caught me off guard in that the students base skills were very developed when it comes to video and audio creation. I did learn a couple of things for next time:
Student now have pretty advanced video knowledge compared to 20 years ago, this means we can focus on story telling that much more, that much sooner. A lot of projects revolved around students sharing their lives, which was great, however many of these projects lacked a narrative and or thematic arch. I would like to work on new approaches to integrating story telling early on so that their later projects are more developed.
Speaking with Xiaofei Song I also learned from her a reflection video rather than a documentation video can go a long way in terms of students learning about themselves and their interaction with their work. So I will be integrating this in the future.
Project wise this spring they turned in some stellar projects, which you can check out here:
When I took over COMM 410 a couple years back I was super excited and last semester I published an article about how I revamped the whole course as it is a W course. So you can get a full run down of the course here. My hopes for improvement if I were to teach this class again (I am not schedule to) would be trips to recording studios and music events, as well as more guest speakers. I did integrate creative in class group projects this semester and they were great. Here are some links to student blogs I would like to highlight:
COMM 340 Communication & Popular Culture
I have been teaching Popular Culture since spring 2020, two years later I haven’t changed the course much, however the projects have just been getting better and better. The students are tasked with creating videos about a chapter and/or lecture that has inspired them. Below you will find a set of videos I believe exude the spirit of the class:
To say spring 2022 was productive would be an understatement. The Media & Gaming Lab was supercharged by so many great contributors, collaborators, and visiting artists who engaged with our community like nothing we have ever seen before. Our efforts took us from inside Texas A&M classrooms to the Ann Arbor Film Festival. We created new works of art, conducted research, and held talks and workshops that impacted undergraduate and graduate student success. We hosted weekly Zoom meetups on Wednesday from 5-7pm and physical production meetups on Thursday from 5-7pm. The Media & Gaming Lab group participated on many fronts across the university and beyond. Below are some of the highlights:
Annie and Arely Graduate Project
Re-Social – The ReSocial Hour Podcast
Ann Arbor Film Festival Panel
Texas Tech Presentation
Guest Lectures and Learning (Anthony & Leo)
Kali Narrative Film Project
The Pumpkin Prince
Leo Garza Starts a Business
Anthony Receives A&M Graduate Teaching Award
Rick Pulos’ Coming Out Monologue
Creation of the TAMU Media and Gaming Lab Instagram and Tiktok
Joey receives the Graduate Faculty Advocate Award
Dr. Regina Mills Game Play in the Lab
Johnny gets Married
Annie and Arely Graduate Student Projects
Texas A&M graduate students Ana-Luisa Ortiz and Arely Herrera worked on individual documentary projects for one of their graduate courses taught by Dr. Anna Wolfe, COMM 636-600 “Survey of Organization Communication.”
Ana-Luisa Ortiz’s project “Painting Praxis: Artistry, Identity and Decolonial Sensibilities” brought together BCS community members for a painting workshop that focused on coloniality and decoloniality. Participants used acrylic on canvas to paint a tree with deep roots and whimsical birds that gave Annie the opportunity to teach communication theory through painting. Leo Garza, Rick Pulos, and Anthony Ramirez along with others from the Media & Gaming Lab interviewed participants and filmed the painting workshop, resulting in a short documentary. This project was partly funded by a fellowship through the Institute for Applied Creativity at Texas A&M.
Arely Herrera’s project centered around documenting and interviewing Latinx students who intersect creative and academic outlets together. Arely used equipment from the Media & Gaming lab to interview Media Lab member, Anthony Ramirez.
ReSocial – The ReSocial Hour Podcast
During the semester, Anthony, Emily Riewestahl, and joey lopez reformatted the ReSocial public scholarship initiative to try and reach a larger audience. While ideating the new format, they decided to create a podcast highlighting the experiences and lived realities of undergraduate and graduate students as well as professors. The podcast is called The ReSocial Hour and is available on major podcast platforms. Texas A&M undergraduate, Allie Lozano-Baker was added to the ReSocial crew and has done some amazing since joining us. In addition to The ReSocial Hour podcast, ReSocial continues to be active on Instagram and TikTok.
Ann Arbor Film Festival Panel
The Media & Gaming Lab had the honor of presenting at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in a panel called, “Experimental Media in the 21st Century” as part of the Off the Screen! Speaker Series. The panel consisted of undergraduate students (Kali Johnson, Leo Garza, Zayno Rayne, and Marco Mireles), graduate students (Rick Pulos and Anthony Ramirez), and professors (joey lopez and Jonathan Guajardo). Each of the panelists discussed their projects, lived realities, and the influence and impact the Media & Gaming Lab has had on them.
Texas Tech Presentation
Anthony and joey’s research project, “Critical Cultural Exploration of Video Game Spaces Within Tejanx Communities” was accepted and presented at the Hispanic and Latin American Video Gaming Experience: Imagery, Industry & Audience at Texas Tech. There is a full write up on the project and the experience available on Anthony’s website.
Anthony guest lectured in multiple classes during the semester including Intercultural Communication (COMM 335), Communication and Popular Culture (COMM 340), Communication and Technology Skills (COMM 230), Radios, Records, and Popular Music (COMM 410), and Media Audiences (COMM 375). Anthony loves to teach and guest lecture and he also loves to have guest lecturers in his class, Communication and Technology Skills (COMM 230). He was lucky enough to have Leo Garza give an amazing presentation on green screen work. Additionally, Arely Herrera provided a wonderful guest lecture in Anthony’s class on creativity and how to be creative.
Continuing our tradition, we had our weekly meetups. We met online and in-person. Our online meetups were conversational ideation sessions, while our in-person meetups focused on photography, video making, logo design, and podcasting. We hope to continue our meetups over the summer.
This semester we hosted a Showing Trajectory podcast, “Automotive Media Makers,” featuring Faye Hadley, a mechanic, media maker and television personality, along with Larry Chen, a Canon sponsored world renowned automotive photographer. Jenalee Phang and joey co-hosted the podcast. Jenalee is an undergraduate student who is interested in automotive culture and media making. It was awesome having her develop and ask questions directly to the media makers and garner lived reality responses. The full podcast, with nearly 400 views as of this writing, can be found below. We are very pleased with the response!
Earlier in the semester, joey and Anthony had the privilege of attending the BIPOC POP symposium at the University of Texas at Austin. A special thank you to Dr. Frederick Luis Aldama, Samantha Ceballos-Sosa, and the Latinx Pop Lab for creating such an amazing event. The two wrote a reflective analysis on the symposium.
On April 20th, the Media & Gaming Lab had an impromptu BBQ outside of Bolton. joey grilled 2 racks of ribs, 3 packages of chicken quarters, 2 packages of sausage, and included corn tortillas. We documented the event and had such a wonderful experience. What was really interesting about this event was that we posted up on the Department’s FB group that we were conducting a “participatory organizational ethnographic gastronomy preliminary research project, aka a BBQ.” This prompted faculty to stop by and ask us how the research was going. We began taking basic field notes and we hope to create a future event where we collect full metrics and insights into BBQ cultural practices.
As discussed in the Media & Gaming Lab Write Up on February 28, 2022 (see https://liberalarts.tamu.edu/communication/2022/02/28/collaboration-and-creativity-meet-up-in-the-media-and-gaming-lab/), Kali Johnson pitched and is producing “Journey to Fame,” a short fictional film. Kali worked diligently on rewriting her script with the advise and mentorship of PhD student Rick Pulos. The Media & Gaming group scouted for locations with Kali on Campus and in downtown Bryan. It is our hope to do some readings in the summer and be ready to go into full production in the fall.
The Pumpkin Prince
The Media & Gaming Lab was lucky to have Zayno, an undergraduate of A&M, join our group. Zayno is a performance and hip-hop artist. Zayno shared his work with the Media & Gaming Lab and during one of our production days in downtown Bryan, we shot an impromptu video vignette of one of Zayno’s songs.
Zayno has since spent many hours in the lab working on his beats, ideating, and being creative in the Media & Gaming Lab
Leo Garza Starts a Business
Media & Gaming Lab student, Leo Garza is an incredibly creative and talented student. He has recently decided to go into business for himself with his company AZA Media. Through his business, Leo focuses on content creation including video production, photography, and social media work.
Texas A&M graduate student and Media & Gaming Lab member, Anthony Ramirez was the recipient of the Texas A&M University Association Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Teaching. It is one of the highest forms of recognition the university can give to a graduate student. Congratulations, Anthony!
Rick Pulos’ Coming Out Monologue
Rick Pulos, a doctoral student in the Department of Communication, performed a monologue at the TAMU Pride Center’s annual Coming Out Monologues. “My Gay Yale Essay” is the hilarious story of him coming out in his application for admission to Yale College and to his family ahead of his Yale graduation back in 1997.
Creation of the TAMU Media and Gaming Lab Instagram and Tiktok
Over the semester, many of the students of the Media & Gaming Lab asked for social media platforms in order to learn, share, and interact with the Media & Gaming Lab community. In response, we crated a TikTok and an Instagram account. Be sure to give us a follow and find out what we are up to and working on!
During the annual Texas A&M Communication Department Graduate Student reception, joey lopez, phd won the Faculty Advocate Award from the Department of Communication’s Graduate Student Association. This award is special because graduate students must nominate and vote for professors they believe are doing amazing work with them.
Dr. Regina Mills Game Play in the Lab
Texas A&M University Professor of English, Dr. Regina Mills taught a course, Topics Latino/a Literature and Culture (ENGL 670). Dr. Mills and her class used the Media & Gaming Lab to play and conduct research on the game Papo y Yo.
Weekly online meetups
Narrative Film Development with Local College and High School Students
Reading of Kali Johnson’s script
Work on 2023 Community Engaged Summer Programming
Intercollegiate collaboration Fall 2022 event development
Showing Trajectory Fall 2022 development
Johnny gets Married
Congratulations to Texas A&M Instructor and Media & Gaming Lab facilitator, Jonathan Guajardo on getting married this past semester to his partner, Areeba. We wish both Johnny and Areeba a happy marriage and fantastic life together.