What is your lab called and where is it?
We are the Penn State Digital English Studio at Penn State University, PA.
What sorts of projects and activities form the core of your work?
Our areas of focus are pedagogy, usability and strategy.
Who uses the lab? Is it a space for students, for researchers, for seminars?
Our studio is open to all English department faculty, staff and graduate students.
What sorts of knowledge does the lab produce and how is it circulated?
Our physical space is used to record and edit video interviews of distinguished speakers and authors, conduct graduate student video interviews, create graphic design for studio and departmental use, create and edit promotional videos, and other tasks. We also have capability for podcasting, photography and video conferencing. Our studio staff supports digital pedagogical and research projects by applying a rhetorical perspective to planning and usability.
As a departmental entity, the Studio produces much more. We run the social media presence for the department. We create and maintain the official department websites. Our largest “deliverable” is the English department online course portfolio, which we design, maintain and support.
Tell us about your infrastructure. Do you have a designated space and how does that work?
Our space consists of two rooms. The outside room includes three iMac workstations, a smart TV, a scanning station with a PC, a wireless printer, a locking storage cabinet, a whiteboard and moveable tables with work space for mobile devices. We have a lending library of mobile devices—iPads and Chromebooks and laptops—that people can use in the Studio or take with them. We also have video cameras, digital cameras and audio recorders that people can use and borrow.
The inside room is a space designed for recording media such as video, audio and photography. It is fitted with sound panels, backdrops, lighting, microphones and cameras.
We also have a staff that includes a director, managing director, two digital education specialists, two graduate interns and two undergraduate interns. Our staff includes tenure-line faculty, lecturer faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students.
What kind of financial support does the lab receive?
We receive internal support.
What would you say is the lab’s most significant accomplishment to date?
We have grown so quickly in such a short time, but I’d say our biggest accomplishment (so far!) is earning the rights to completely manage and control the English Department online portfolio of courses.
Could you briefly describe your plans for the lab over the next 3-5 years?
We plan to continue to establish ourselves as an institutionally-supported lab responsible for consequential projects.
What makes your lab a lab?
We boil and brew. We plan, we test, we experiment. Sometimes we blow things up. And we do it all in collaboration with our English Department colleagues.