Thursday, March 12, 2009

Second-year CreComm students put the "professional" in IPPs

It's often said that Americans get the president they deserve. In much the same way, CreComm students get the IPP presentations they deserve.

Every year, instructors and students dissect the Independent Professional Project presentations when they're over, much like TV critics take apart the Oscars the following day, analyzing them for hidden meanings, notable moments, and general trends.

As any good PR person knows, "evaluation" needs to happen at every level of a plan. CreComm lives that rule: from the moment you teach or study in the program, you undergo an immersion into "a culture of criticism" that sticks with you for the rest of your life as you pursue a career in the communications field.

Here's how it works: I'm tough when I mark my students' papers. My students are tough when they evaluate my teaching. Then, they graduate, we become friends, it becomes someone else's job to criticize their work, my criticism looks light in comparison, and all is right with the world. Rinse, wash, repeat.

IPP presentations tend to be more or less than the sum of their collective parts. Some years, they're "fun." Some years, they're "sombre." Some years they're "hit and miss." Some years they drag, and some years they race by.

Whatever they are or seem to be, IPP presentations tend to reflect the collective personality of that particular year's group, which doesn't necessarily account for every individual in the room - it's more like "a dominant vibe."

When I was a student in CreComm, IPPs were mostly "bad," my sitcom script and video included. No offense to anyone with whom I graduated, but let's just say: the technology's a lot better now than it used to be. My marketing plan consisted of selling my sitcom to my friend, Dean Pritchard, for a bite of his ham sandwich.

This year's presentations

This year, I'd say that the presentations were "professional" - among the most professional I've seen.
  • Maybe it was the great organization of the event by Nicole Trunzo and Crystal Klippenstein.
  • Maybe it was the great hosts: Kate Schellenberg, Mike Ambrose, and Brenlee Coates, and that they each were responsible for the entire day's hosting activities.
  • Maybe it was the sheer professionalism of our terrific students.
  • Maybe it was the strong projects.
  • Maybe it was the venue, the Park Theatre.
  • Maybe it was the fine restaurants in the area.
  • Maybe it was the magical Keebler elves.
OK, let's just settle on "all of the above."

Frankly, I was blown away by the presentations over the last three days. As one instructor said: "It's hard to evaluate the projects themselves on the basis of the presentations: everyone looks like they have a good one."

There's one way to shut down an instructor's marking matrix, and that's to have a presentation that is so compelling and well delivered that he or she forgets to fill it out. That happened a lot this year.

Or, a student can also do what student Will Cooke did in his hilarious presentation: ask for "a balance of justice and mercy," which sounds fair to me!

I won't highlight any standout presentations, because it was clearly a strong year, and I don't want to damn anyone by omission. Let me just say that the weak moments were fewer than I've seen, and the strong moments were so consistent as to be the benchmark.

Today, I would also say, were the most emotional presentations I've seen. The funny stuff was really, really funny, and the tender stuff was really, really moving.

After the most touching presentation I think I've seen, the crowd stood up in a spontaneous ovation, tears still running down their cheeks. It felt like we'd all been through something special together, and that we were all the better and closer for it. And that's probably how it should feel when school is over. OK: "almost" over.

I'm also pleased to note that attendance was good among first- and second-year students, and those who weren't there got the worst punishment of all: missing an inspiring and super-cool event for the ages.

Great job, everyone!

Special guests

It was great to see a lot of former grads and special guests make it out to this year's IPP event.

Among them:
  • Ken Webb, vice-president, academic, RRC. And he won the raffle too, lucky guy.
  • Croft Petersmeyer from Pollard Banknote.
  • Jani Sorensen from the MS Society.
  • Ryszard Hunka from CBC.
  • Mark Myrowich, entrepreneur.
  • Kristin Hancock from the Children's Wish Foundation.
  • Barbara Biggar, PR guru.
  • Matt Cohen, Direct Focus writer.
  • Casey Gibb, CreComm grad, whose current job title I don't have. I suck.
  • Sabrina Carnevale, CreComm grad, whose current job title I don't have. I suck.
  • My mom.
About the IPPs

The Independent Professional Project is a full-credit course at Red River College in Winnipeg. Creative Communications students propose and produce a major project of their own selection.

In the final semester of the two-year program, students make a formal presentation on the outcome of their work. Projects are promotional, creative, documentary, research-based and can be in the form of video, audio, print, performance – and more!

1 comment:

  1. Cool post Kenton. I had no idea this blog existed. Thanks for the shout-out!


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