$100,000 Gift Fosters Creativity and Learning for Students

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Peter Stougaard, former Hollywood studio executive

May 12, 2015 - As part of the MSU Empower Extraordinary campaign, the College of Arts & Letters (CAL) at Michigan State University has received an in-kind gift valued at more than $100,000 from CAL alumnus Peter Stougaard (’81), a former studio executive for DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox.

The gift is in the form of 4,000 software licenses for an innovative Apple app Stougaard developed called PopBoardz, whereby users can create, organize, and present ideas in the form of video, images, websites, or any file type all on one screen. Stougaard, now an entrepreneur, is providing the licenses to the College of Arts & Letters to use in its classrooms as a tool to help students collaborate and present effectively.

“Over the past few years, I’ve been working with CAL to find ways to bring real world experiences to students who want to pursue their creative passions for a living,” says Stougaard. “That being said, I felt that providing the value of PopBoardz to faculty and students would enhance the thought process to help solve creative challenges.”

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Stougaard presents new application during launch presentation.

Linear PowerPoint slides limit presenters to telling their stories in only one way. PopBoardz is a flexible tool that is untethered to the Internet and designed for realistic presentation environments that are much more interactive and open ended, reflecting the way conversations realistically happen. “Now users can create much more diverse, dynamic and impactful presentations than ever before, from any Apple device,” says Stougaard.

Starting in the Spring Semester 2015, several classes will be introducing the PopBoardz application as part of their curriculum. Daniel Trego, Coordinator of Technology-Enhanced Instruction, is one of those who will be using PopBoardz in the classroom. 

“I decided to use it in hopes it would be a single solution to my current situation in which I am using multiple programs and apps to share content with my students,” explains Trego. “The biggest impact that I see PopBoardz having on students is that of encouraging them to be active learners. Because students and instructors can both create and interact with different boards or screens, it may well be the perfect tool to help motivate students and facilitate access to learning.“

The biggest impact that I see PopBoardz having on students is that of encouraging them to be active learners.

Daniel Trego

Matthew Handelman, a professor of German and faculty member in Digital Humanities, who also will be introducing the application in 2015, says he thinks PopBoardz can make a much-improved impact on language learning.

“We're interested in using PopBoardz because it will allow for the decentralization of language learning in MSU classrooms,” Handelman says. “Even though communicative language learning has worked to take the focus away from the instructor, the use of a single projector or computer usually reinstates their primacy. Possibly one of PopBoardz’ major advantage is that it offers students a helping hand, guiding them as they access the material directly and quickly.”

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MSU faculty member, Daniel Trego, demonstrating the PopBoardz application in his classroom.

In 2013, the Creativity Exploratory (CE), an idea incubator located in Linton Hall on the MSU campus, was offered a test of the first version of PopBoardz. Students used the application as part of their brainstorming sessions and presentations to rousing success. Former CAL Dean Karin A. Wurst led the initiative to work with Stougaard to incorporate this technology with students.

“PopBoardz incorporates form, functionality, and mobility into one. We have used PopBoardz as a learning tool in various areas of CAL, and the feedback is that it has truly enhanced the students’ learning experience,” says Wurst, Professor and Special Advisor to the Provost at Michigan State University.

“This is such an exciting new tool—I can hardly wait to use it in my own classes. There are times when one needs to move rapidly between images and video from multiple sources in order to keep the ideas flowing in a class discussion, and PopBoardz’ capabilities could make all the difference,” says Elizabeth H. Simmons, Acting Dean at the College of Arts & Letters.

For more information on PopBoardz or to download the app, visit www.popboardz.com

Contact: Ryan Kilcoyne, Marketing Director, College of Arts & Letters, kilcoyne@msu.edu