History of the NMC
The NMC was founded in 1993 by a group of hardware manufacturers, software developers, and publishers who realized that the ultimate success of their multimedia-capable products depended upon their acceptance by the higher education community in a way that had never been achieved before (see the original project description).
These companies -- Apple Computer, Adobe Systems, Macromedia, and Sony -- guessed that a community of innovators embedded in leading colleges and universities would amplify the impact of their tools in a wide range of disciplines, and that such a community could be uniquely self-sustaining and adaptive.
To that end, the founding partners launched the first Search for Excellence, to identify schools in which an investment in multimedia capacity could bear fruit. The colleges among the first group of 22 academic institutions were chosen for their demonstrated competence at using new media technologies, as well as their geographic distribution and breadth of academic specialties.
The original description of the organization was:
The New Media Centers program is a non-profit organization committed to helping institutions of higher education enhance teaching and learning through the use of new media. Bringing together pioneers in the new media field from academia and industry, the program creates individual centers of excellence and a collaborative network of schools serving as catalysts to integrate new media into education. New Media Centers identifies colleges and universities around the world best suited to serve as models for innovation, both on campus and in their communities. By coordinating special relationships between these schools and industry leaders, the program helps them acquire and use state-of-the-art new media technology to create hands-on laboratories.
Acting as the hub of information for these centers, the program office facilitates discussions of key pedagogical, technological and legal issues among centers, publishers, legal experts, and other interested parties. In addition to acting as an information clearinghouse, the program office also fosters and coordinates collaborative projects among its members. New Media Center schools can work with each other or with the program's corporate members to develop the new technology needed for education. Individual centers develop innovative community programs, such as job retraining courses and in-service training workshops for K-12 teachers.
Those 22 institutions initiated an explosion of collaborative activities, and their working group—then called the New Media Centers—quickly evolved into an independent not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation by early 1994, with headquarters in San Francisco.
The innaugural member organizations were announce March 1, 1994, and included these institutions (links are for members currently active in the NMC):
- Bennington College
- California State University at Long Beach
- California Polytechnic at Pomona
- Cornell University
- Elizabeth City State University
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Hostos Community College CUNY
- Houston Community College System
- Lewis-Clark State College
- New York University
- The Ohio State University
- Pennsylvania State University
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
- University of Calgary
- University of Hawaii at Mano
- University of Michigan
- University of Minnesota
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- University of New Mexico
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Virginia Tech
In 1995 and 1998, the organization expanded the membership in two international searches, and today, the NMC now includes nearly 300 extraordinary colleges, universities, and museums working together to expand the boundaries of teaching, learning, and creative expression.
In 2002, the NMC moved its national headquarters to Austin, Texas, and began to organize its projects and activities into broad but focused initiatives. Working through these initiatives, today's NMC has earned a well-deserved reputation as a leader in the inventive application of technology to challenges in teaching, learning, and creative expression.
In 2003, the NMC launched the Horizon Project, a forward-looking ongoing research project. Each year, the annual Horizon Report identifies important developments, technologies, challenges and trends -- and many of these find their way into important NMC projects like Pachyderm, the New Scholarship Initiative, NMC Virtual Worlds, and more. The Pachyderm Project, one of the NMC's longest running and most successful efforts, kicked off in 2003, with the support of the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
In 2006, the NMC was selected by the MacArthur Foundation to coordinate the production of six volumes of work intended to define digital media and its impacts. Also in 2006, the NMC launched its highly successful NMC Campus Project, which continues to be the largest educational effort in any virtual space, involving more than 150 institutions and more than 15,000 individuals.
In 2007, the NMC launched the first edition of the NMC Summer Conference Proceedings, under the umbrella of the New Scholarhip Initiative. NMC Virtual Worlds, a services unit of the NMC, also launched in 2007. In 2008, with the launch of the Open Virtual Worlds project, NMC Virtual Worlds became the umbrella for that effort as well and the NMC Campus project, and NMC CEO Larry Johnson presented testimony to the US Congress on the nature and potential of virtual worlds.
In 2008, the NMC celebrates its fifteenth anniversary, as it continues to look for ways to shape the ways the academy views technology and its applications for teaching, learning, and creative expression.