Stranger Things is the theme of ISLA's multimedia project for the quarter. Shay Venkatramani | Courtesy Graphic

“Mouthbreathers with a Mic.” “Demablog.” “Are You Strange Enough?”

These are just a few names of the “Stranger Things” media elements that have been created by the Introduction to Media Arts and Technologies (ISLA 240) class, which were officially released to the public Feb. 13.

ISLA 240 merges art and technology, encouraging the expression of both areas through creative processes. ISLA 240 professor Muara Johnston wanted her first course at Cal Poly to reflect a contemporary teaching style that implemented the various communication mediums available today.

“[Technology has] changed so drastically in the last 10 to 15 years,” Johnston said. “I wanted students to not only understand new technologies and how to use them, but also have new experiences.”

Johnston first had the class vote on a subject for the project and then divided the students to work on different aspects of the multimedia project. The project’s focal point is its website, which provides interrelated platforms related to the Netflix show: a blog, podcasts, videos, games, memes and links to different social
media accounts.

Several students had no previous experience with creating such media elements and acquired new skills, such as coding.

“We had to learn a little bit of CSS and HTML, which is basically a little bit of code for the website,” liberal arts and engineering junior and online trivia game creator Reynaldo Hermawan said.

The students were allowed to create whatever they believed was appropriate for the project, as long as they worked both independently and collaboratively to bring their visions to life.

Industrial technology and packaging junior Navin Kuppamala created an original song called “Everything Stranger,” dedicated to people who feel they do not belong in the world. The entire class plans to release a music video for the song that showcases individuality.

“I really like how free [the class] is,” Kuppamala said. “I’m a creator and it caters very well to my talents. I don’t have a lot of classes where I really get a Learn by Doing experience.”

The 13 students and Johnston aim to share the project with as many people as possible by expanding the class’ Upside-Down Fan Club. As the site gains traction, they will review the analytics regarding their audience’s responses.

“Stranger Things” content will be posted weekly on the website and social media accounts for the rest of Winter 2018. When week 10 ends, the continuation of the project will be up to the students.

Above all, Johnston said she wants her students to learn the importance of technological relationships when telling a story. She said she hopes her students learn to ask important questions about what they consume and produce.

“It’s very difficult to figure out what the truth is anymore,” Johnston said. “We have to be responsible for the stuff we put out there.”

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