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Simplifying production, with a one-button lab

This week I attended the PA Forward Information Literacy Summit, where I connected with school and academic librarians and discussed evolving visions of literacy. (More on that coming!)

At the Pattee Library,  I was treated to a tour of the Knowledge Commons by Associate Librarian Joe Fennewald.  Joe showed several of us around a variety of very attractive and very popular learning spaces and group study areas.  He talked about how the building’s Starbucks is thinking about expanding.  (Snacking is permitted in these heavily-booked spaces.)

There’s quite a bit K12 might learn from the design projects in university spaces.  (I’ve been blown away by the Queensland University of Technology’s Science and Engineering Center and by the spaces at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University.)

But, closer to home, I discovered that the Pattee Library Knowledge Commons features:

  • Five individual media production spaces for editing video and recording audio
  • Two One Button Studios with green screens for video creation
  • One large iMac lab for media workshops and editing

I found the model of the One Button Studio particularly interesting.

The pilot project, cited by ALA’s Office of Information Technology and Policy as a Cutting-Edge Technology in Library Service in 2014, offers students and faculty the ability to produce high-quality video presentations at the press of a button.  No fuss.  No physical prep. No knowledge of lighting or cameras or sound necessary.

The popular project, the result of a Penn State University Libraries partnership with Information Technology Services, simplifies video creation across PSU’s many campuses and reduces equipment and staff costs.

Students simply plug in a flashdrive and press a button to turn on a fully functioning studio with pre-set cameras, lighting and microphones. A green screen background can be automatically dropped.

Finished videos are saved as QuickTime files that can be easily posted on YouTube or taken elsewhere in the Commons for post-production editing. Production experts are available for consultation.  


The One-Button homepage describes how the studio is used:

For students

  • Practicing a presentation for class
  • Green screen recording
  • Studio components of larger video assignments
  • e-Portfolio introductions and content

For faculty

  • Delivering an introduction to an online course
  • Presenting research papers
  • Recording a lecture when travel is required
  • Creating demonstration modules

A free One Button Studio Mac App is available to encourage the set-up of other physical streamlined video recording studios integrating third party hardware.  Setup guides and a support page describe configuration details.

This project is for a particular type of production.  It would not, of course, be useful for live-action, narrative videos.  But it does speak to the need to coming up with practical, economical, easy-to-use, replicable solutions for younger students and K12 teachers.

So, what would this kit look like in a K12 library?  Might we work together to develop specs for a similar studio package that we can share across our schools?



lightsetup  joycescreen



Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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