For five years, the Student Technology Center has hosted the Tech Tonic technology expo. Consisting of demos and hands-on learning, Tech Tonic has provided students and faculty the opportunity to immerse themselves in some of the latest technologies available.

This year, deans of several colleges collaborated and decided to expand the event to include a forum to discuss the rapidly changing world of technology in order to evaluate Western’s position in the global shift to digital media.

The fifth annual Tech Tonic expo will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11 from in the Performing Arts Center Lobby. The Digital Media Forum, hosted by Say it Visually! Cofounder Matthew Dunn, will take place immediately after the expo on the PAC Mainstage. Both events are free for students, faculty and the public.

Western Manager of Academic Technology and User Services Multimedia and Web John Farquhar said the purpose of this event, as compared to previous Tech Tonic expos, is to evaluate Western’s role in the wake of changing media literacies. He said video is quickly becoming a more influential media that encompasses many classes and majors, and the event will shed light on the necessity for Western students to be literate and familiar with media production and application.

“We’re hoping that this event is one way to begin that conversation and to have students understand and recognize the value and importance of video in their studies, but also to bring faculty to start talking about this as well,” Farquhar said. “What direction do we want to have Western go recognizing that this is a new literacy? We sort of think that it should be part of a general university education.”

Eleven vendors will participate in the Tech Tonic expo. Apple will present the new iPad 3 and its new authoring system for iBooks: iBooks Author. Furniture company Bank & Office will showcase a media unit that allows several users to hook up multiple laptops or media devices to a few screens around a table. Other vendors at the expo include Hewlett Packard, WWU Formula SAE, Western Students Robotics Club, Bellingham Linux Users Group, and KVIK.

For eight years, Dunn has explained complex services and products from things such as the U.S. Census to closing costs on real estate through his online explanatory media company, Say it Visually!. At the Digital Media Forum proceeding the Tech expo, Dunn will share his thoughts on visual media, its incorporation in the classroom, and the implications of preparing students to be literate in these forms of media to help better prepare them for professional life after college.

“The thing I want to provoke the faculty in thinking about is whether they have to ask their students in their disciplines to work differently, communicate differently and think differently in order to be suited for the works that they are going to end up in,” Dunn said.

Dunn said most incoming freshman have probably watched more visual forms of media than they have read books, yet most universities are structured around the book and written media. He said he hopes to explain that in this time of rapidly-changing media literacy, faculty members do not have a choice but to change up the teaching methods and curricula to include the forms of media that students are most familiar and comfortable with.

Vice President for University Relations Steve Swan said that multiple deans and colleges collaborated this year in the organization of Tech Tonic in order to pull limited resources together to create the most impactful event possible.

“We hope that people view this as a great opportunity to learn,” Swan said. “We’re hoping that it will peak their interest in all the different options that are available out there for all of us in the future in terms of the use of digital media, and that as many students and faculty will attend the event and hopefully be as impacted as we think they’re going to be.”

N.O.W. Film Festival

The N.O.W. Film Festival and Contest is another component of the expo where students can submit three minute films in hopes of winning a cash prize. With Dunn’s presentation about how important digital media literacy is and examples of such, the film contest aspect of the expo is for students to get involved in the subject matter, said Chris Cox, dean of libraries at Western.

The acronym in the film festival’s title – N.O.W. – stands for “New Original Western.”

“Why not offer students the ability to create a film on the fly or present films they’ve done?” Cox said. “We can highlight the best of the best of what’s going on at Western.”

The student film contest called for submissions of three minutes films, Cox said. The films could be submitted into one of two categories: open or “My University, My Western.”

In the open category, the submitted film can be on any topic and needs to meet the PG MPAA-rating guidelines, Cox said. Each film will be judged on its ability to tell a story, creativity and imagery, and technical skill.

A People’s Choice award will be presented, as well as a judge’s favorite in the Open category.

The films submitted are posted on Viking Village, where students can view them and vote for their favorite up until Tuesday, April 10. The three films that received the most votes will be presented as a part of Dunn’s presentation during the expo, Cox said. Once shown, audience members will have the opportunity to vote on their cell phones for whichever film the liked the best.

The winner of the People’s Choice award will receive $250. Then the judges will then choose their favorite film of the category, which will receive $250. The same film could win both awards, Cox said.

The other category is titled, “My University, My Western.”

“Students in this contest are supposed to demonstrate through story how Western is special to them,” Cox said. “These [films] could potentially be used to increase marketing efforts on campus.”

This category has the same guidelines as the open category, except there is no People’s Choice component – the judges are the only ones determining winners, Cox said. The first-place prize winning film will receive $750, second-place will receive $500 and third place will receive $250. The winners of both categories will be announced at the expo.

Judges for the film contest are community members who have been involved in the film industryor run a film studio in Bellingham, Cox said.

The films submitted for the open category are on Viking Village where students can vote for their favorite.