Amanda Sturgill, associate professor of communications, developed an iMedia Sampler to provide School of Communications graduates with up-to-date information about how media industry practices has changed since they’ve graduated.

Sturgill anticipated that a few dozen students would register for the massive open online course (MOOC) but quickly realized that Elon student engagement continues after graduation.

“I was kind of expecting maybe 30 people would enroll,” Sturgill said. “We’ve got 212 right now.”

While the program’s enrollment surpassed all expectations, its creation was designed to explore online education possibilities and engage alumni with events happening on campus.

“I had the idea that we should do some kind of mini-MOOC for Comm alumni,” Sturgill said. “Doing a short course for alumni seemed like a good way to try out both of those ideas at the same time.”

Outside publicity helped increase interest in the course. Some alumni, for example, shared information about the iMedia Sampler on their social media networks in order to increase registration. The sampler was also featured on CBS Radio and Google News.

The iMedia Sampler began Monday with online lessons about search engine optimization and funding. Future topics scheduled to be covered through early March include multimedia storytelling, design for mobile devices, media analytics and the relationship between coding and web design.

One of the new majors that Elon is offering to students is Media Analytics. In order to educate alumni about this change and provide insight into media effects research, assistant professor of communications Qian Xu is leading the user/audience research portion of the iMedia Sampler.

“This sampler covers the topics that have changed or emerged since our alums have graduated,” Xu said. “It involves things that were not covered when our alumni were at school.”

Because the media industry is constantly evolving, students are encouraged to adapt to change.

“I think a lot of people in undergraduate school think that they’re learning a set of skills and that when they get out they’ll have those skills and they’ll be able to get a job,” Sturgill said. “The more important thing to learn when you’re here is how to learn new things in a field that is as technologically-driven as communications.”

Sturgill and Xu are just two of the seven professors giving lessons as part of the sampler. According to Xu, it is an honor to be a part of a new program that is generating a lot of interest.

“All professors teaching in the Interactive Media Master program were invited to contribute to this sampler,” Xu said. “It is not only a new attempt of the School of Communications for massive online courses, but also a good opportunity to let more people know about the iMedia program.”