Communication professor Linda Detwiler has been wildly impressed with the level of loyalty and student pride that resonates on the Heidelberg campus. “Students’ deep feelings for this university sparked my interest,” she said. “I wanted to know the basis for their devotion.”
So Detwiler challenged the 20 students in her Argumentation and Debate class to answer the question “Why Heidelberg?” by producing a one-minute video that illustrated their feelings about Heidelberg.
The class was divided into four teams and the students began by discussing what brought them to Heidelberg. The students talked fondly about visiting campus, meeting faculty and the experiences they've had since becoming Heidelberg students. From these discussions, the students settled on the following themes: the Heidelberg welcome; the Heidelberg tradition; finding your purpose at Heidelberg; and the Heidelberg family. With the themes decided, the teams met with the Office of Marketing and Communication Services, who shared tips about branding and messaging, as well as provided photos for use in the videos. In about a month’s time the students took their videos from concept to reality; they chose photos, music and taglines to personalize it according to their individual answers to the “Why Heidelberg” question.
“Each student had a role in actualizing the project,” Detwiler said. “Some students gathered pictures, others wrote the script and others edited the final project using their editing skills with help from Jennifer Shetterly.”
“I’ve got to give them credit,” their professor said. “They really had to multitask to get this done. That’s a good life skill.”
Although their videos were complete, the students’ work was not finished. Detwiler charged the group with creatively marketing their videos to create a buzz on campus. It worked. The campus was invited on April 12 to The University Commons to view all four videos and vote for their favorite. With the videos posted on YouTube, voting spread beyond the campus to families, ‘Berg alumni and the community.
When all the votes were counted, the big reveal was held today (May 7) at a reception. The Heidelberg welcome video (#1) was selected as the People’s Choice winner. The “Find Your Purpose” (#3) video was judged to be the overall winner.
“The students took pride in their work and were thrilled with the campus support to view their video,” Detwiler said. “All of them agreed that they felt a strong sense of accomplishment and community.”
With the process complete, students wrote their reflections about the project, and overwhelmingly agreed that the assignment was exciting, challenging, valuable and memorable. Detwiler allowed the teams themselves a vote: whether the video should count as their final semester exam. The tally was a resounding “yes.”
The lives of the videos aren’t ending with the completion of the assignment and the semester. The four original videos have been enhanced with a short introduction to explain the intended theme and message and are available to view on YouTube. Two students in the class, Ashley Racicot and Dana Thoms, volunteered to take it one step further.
The two students met to discuss how elements from each video could be combined into one final class video. Utilizing comments from the judges, a final class video was produced specifically for a prospective student audience. The final video is a great example of student work and could help other prospective students in their college search.
The memorable project gave 20 students another answer to the question "Why Heidelberg?"