Digital Commons changes name to Media Commons, offers new resources

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State’s Digital Commons service has changed its name to the Media Commons in a move to better reflect its mission. The Media Commons is a University-wide initiative to provide students and faculty with the means to create digital media for courses to enrich the educational experience. Media Commons studios at each campus provide state-of-the-art equipment and software to create digital video, audio, and photographs.

Along with a new name, the Media Commons is introducing new facilities and resources for students and faculty.

A new Media Commons studio has just been completed in room 11 of the Sparks Building at Penn State's University Park campus, bringing the total number of studios of the growing service to 25. The design of this new studio, now open for use, is meant to facilitate collaborative work among students by providing flexible space design and large, wall-mounted monitors around which groups can gather.

The Media Commons, a service of Information Technology Services, also has developed partnerships with the colleges of agriculture and earth and mineral sciences, each of which plans to build studios for multimedia creation. Because these studios will be embedded within a particular college, students and faculty from the college will have the benefit of access to college-specific personnel and resources.

New resources are available on the Media Commons Web site, whose address has changed from to The Web site can still be accessed via the old address for one year.

Faculty case study videos on the site showcase effective multimedia assignments from specific courses including ECON 2 and PT 384 and describe how the faculty and students made use of the Media Commons facilities. These case studies each detail how the assignment was designed and provide course syllabi, any resources the faculty used when assigning the project to students, and grading rubrics so that other faculty will be able to reproduce similar assignments in their own courses.

An easy-to-use Web-based video editing and publishing application, Kaltura, can be accessed through the Web site as well. Kaltura can be used on any computer platform. The application enables users to edit video in a similar way to iMovie using only a Web browser. They can edit video projects, capture video, and publish the finished product to the Web all from the same location, streamlining the work flow.

According to Chris Millet, Media Commons project manager, the Web site has been updated based on feedback from users so that it is easier to navigate and to locate resources.

The Media Commons will issue a periodic newsletter to the Penn State community with updates on services as well as tips on using software and hardware available in campus studios.

Millet explained that the name change reflects the growth of the service from a fledgling organization serving only a few locations to a mature one providing facilities and support staff at every Penn State campus. In 2009, approximately 6,500 students, faculty and staff received consultation from Media Commons staff and the service’s Web pages were viewed 330,000 times.

After having assisted thousands of students and faculty over two and a half years of operation, the Media Commons has obtained a great deal of feedback that has informed the service’s improvements. Millet said, “Services such as our in-class on-demand workshops and Kaltura are a direct response to requests the Penn State community has made.”

During fall 2009, Penn State hosted the Sparky Awards student video contest created by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an international alliance of academic and research libraries. The contest required students to create a two-minute video based on the theme of "the value of information sharing." Approximately 100 Penn State students participated, submitting 50 entries.

"The contest is an example of how we’ve been able to successfully engage a large group of students in creating digital media in a way that enhanced their learning," Millet said. "The rebranding of our service into the Media Commons, along with the new resources we’re announcing, is just another way we’re trying to better align the service we provide with the needs of our faculty and students."

Last Updated February 02, 2010