Krieger APA award

SPPD’s ‘Multimedia Boot Camp’ Wins APA Technology Award

By Ben Dimapindan

Professor Martin Krieger

The USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development recently won an award from the American Planning Association’s technology division for its “Multimedia Boot Camp” class, taught by professor Martin Krieger.

The award – “Best Use of Technology for a University Urban and Regional Planning Program” – recognizes the most effective use of teaching with technology in preparing future planners for professional work, according to the APA Web site. It was presented during the association’s National Planning Conference in New Orleans in April.

About two years ago, Krieger started the Multimedia Boot Camp, a two- to four-hour, non-credit class which provides SPPD master’s students with a basic overview of readily available media documentation programs that are widely used by practitioners in the urban planning and public management fields.

“Basically, what I try to do is introduce people to a variety of applications,” he said, “usually how to make video and how to edit it; how to set up a Web page; an application called SketchUp for making 3-D models; and Google Spreadsheet Mapper, a mapping program.” He also teaches students to use programs such as Apple iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, as well as Audacity, downloadable software for sound recording and editing.

The primary aim of each boot camp, Krieger explained, is to “get people’s feet wet,” with regard to the technology. But he also hopes to spark their curiosity — prompt them to want to learn more about multimedia, and to think about how they might incorporate these skills to enhance the work done in their respective fields.

“The goal was that, at the end of the session, students would be able to show the application in practice,” he said. “They would need to work on their own to develop mastery, but at least now they had gotten over the hump in the learning curve.”

Krieger added that multimedia skills have become essential for professionals working in planning and public administration.

“These technologies have all been implemented. Making videos, using mapping programs, having 3-D models, they’re all part of standard practice in development and city planning,” he said. “Multimedia is clearly vital to these fields.”

According to Harsh Prakash, vice chair of the APA’s Technology Division, the multimedia boot camp class is “an excellent example of how technology can aid professional planning, and clearly demonstrates how its use is integral to the way communities are communicating and engaging their citizens to plan for their future.”

Jeremy Olson-Shelton, Master of Public Administration ’09, who had completed the multimedia boot camp, noted how the technology he learned enabled him “to gain perspective and look at issues in new ways.”

In addition, Krieger, who has conducted extensive research in the aural and photographic documentation of Los Angeles, also explained that visual documentation can have a profound impact on communities.

“To represent your community, to represent it in pictures and so forth, is to take control of how it is seen,” he said. “So the ability to do this – the rhetoric of documentation – is crucial in making arguments.”