University brings student videos, photos to home page

By John McDermott

In an attempt to give students the opportunity to share their campus experience online, the University recently launched Here and Now, a new multimedia Illinois Web site feature that allows for students, alumni and faculty to submit and share images.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is to give people an interactive way to express what their Illinois experience is, and images and videos are both excellent ways to do that,” said Todd Wilson, coordinator of special projects for Public Affairs.

Created by University web services and linked on the University home page, the YouTube-esque media utility will feature photographs and videos submitted by both the University and University students. Although developed and maintained by the University, Public Affairs has emphasized that Here and Now is an online feature meant for students.

“The University Web site says things from the University point of view,” said Joel Steinfeldt, project manager for Public Affairs. “We realized a long time ago that this isn’t the only point of view and that probably the most important one would be the view from alumni or students or anyone involved in the Illinois community.”

Here and Now has been accepting students submissions for two weeks and has received numerous photographs from students and alumni, but there has yet to be any video submissions. However, Steinfeldt remains optimistic about Here and Now’s potential future.

“Once you unleash this kind of thing and give it to the imaginations of the 42,000 students here that are brilliant and creative and imaginative … I can’t even imagine what they’re going to come up,” Steinfeldt said.

Plans for Here and Now were first introduced during Web Services’ most recent redesign of the University home page. Web Services then created the technology in a mere two weeks, said James Wilson, director of University Web Services.

While Here and Now welcomes student creativity, Public Affairs is monitoring submissions in order to ensure the content is appropriate for an institution of higher learning.

“If it’s something that you wouldn’t share at a holiday dinner with your extended family, you probably shouldn’t send it in,” Steinfeldt said.

Commenting on photos is currently not an option, but may be added on a monitory basis at some point in the future.

Public Affairs is looking for Here and Now to showcase the University’s diversity and help both those on and off campus gain perspective on University life.

“I would hope people would get a better understanding of what it’s like to be a part of the University community but more importantly from a student-driven, alumni-driven viewpoint,” Steinfeldt said.