Exploring Fort Hays State University’s Institute for New Media Studies




With the rapid growth and evolution of technology in recent years, students at Fort Hays State University now have the opportunity to work with interactive and hands-on forms of the latest technology via FHSU’s Institute for New Media Studies. 

Founded in 2014 and advised by Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Dr. Gordon Carlson, the Institute, located in Malloy Hall Room 106, includes revolutionizing technology such as 360-degree video, virtual reality, and many other interactive virtual sets. Additionally, the innovative laboratory at FHSU includes a 55” Interactive Smart Table, augmented reality, large monitors with 4K and HD capabilities, a 3D projector screen, as well as 3D scanning and printing.

New Media Studies also has FHSU based projects, including a virtual and interactive map to explore of the University called ‘Tiger Range’, as well as a custom animated version of Victor E. Tiger that creates individualized messages through artificial intelligence for students through a software program.

Dr. Carlson encourages individuals to bring any developing ideas to the lab for further study.

“This problem you think is insurmountable, we actually know how to solve it,” said Carlson. “That’s my favorite part of what we do here in the Institute, people have a problem and we actually solve them.”

Although the Institute is fairly new, Dr. Carlson has been impressed with what has been accomplished thus far.

“At this rate, the sky’s the limit,” said Carlson. “The things we could be doing in just a couple more years from now based on our track record is pretty big.”

The Institute also has a virtual librarian in the works, that will help students navigate through Forsyth Library. Additionally, New Media Studies is working on creating a LEGO robotics project, which will serve as a counselor to guide students to the location of a book or resource they are looking for.

New Media Studies focuses on expanding the scope of potential projects and to collaborate with other students, faculty, and community members across the country.

“There’s a whole world of opportunity for things that we can do,” said Dr. Carlson. “We like to tell students that if they work in the lab, they’re kind of like the Navy Seals of the University.”

Students who work in the lab will use tools that are “more advanced, more specialized, require some extra skill, and some extra dedication, but really can go well beyond the scope of a normal class or a normal research project,” said Dr. Carlson. Some students have even begun to develop their own entrepreneurial startups through the program.

The Institute’s main goal is to connect all the way across campus and provide the resources for anyone who sees value in it.

“We can find the people who have the expertise you need, we can find the resources you need, and then we bring all those people and things together to create some really cool projects that everyone involved individually, would think none of us could have ever pulled this off,” said Carlson.

The Institute of New Media Studies is different from larger entities because it allows a collaborative aspect that is hard to find elsewhere.

“In larger schools, the lab would be more specifically focused [on research],” said Dr. Carlson. “So it would really only be useful to a student or faculty member that was already focused on that one sort of specialty.”

Through the practices of convergence and disruption, New Media Studies focuses on finding a way to strategically disrupt the social landscape.

“Convergence is where two ideas or two things that aren’t really related at all, come together in interesting and unexpected ways,” said Carlson. “And then we have this idea of disruption, which is when everybody is used to doing things a certain way, and then something new comes along and it really forces us to change the way we operate.

Anybody on campus is allowed to use the lab to improve their skills or enhance their research. Furthermore, scholarships are now offered for those who want to participate in research fellowships through the Institute.

The Institute is currently working on many projects and has some future projects planned as well. For more information on the Institute of New Media Studies, contact Dr. Carlson at 785-628-5876 or gscarlson@fhsu.edu, and also newmedia@fhsu.edu.

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