Call for Projects

The Digital Convergence Lab would like to help you develop YOUR idea!

Lady with a bullhornDo you have a great idea for creating a new game, mobile app, or digital tool? Do you think you could make it happen, if you just had some help? For the past five years the DCL has brought together groups of talented students to create integrated technology solutions for real problems. Some past Experiential Learning Teams have developed projects for the Oculus Rift, Microsoft Kinect, Android, and iOS. In addition to your membership on the team we will recruit a group of talented students to support the project. We also provide the structure and location for hosting the team, provide project management, technical, and design assistance.

Experiential Learning projects will help you:

  • Build your resume
  • Get scholarships
  • Learn to work in a collaborative team environment
  • Work with cutting edge technology
  • See your ideas through to completion

Project teams will take place during the spring and fall 2016 semesters.

Submit your proposal to

Join the team!

The Digital Convergence Lab is looking for students to join a team. This would be in the capacity of a internship or independent study working on a real project with a team of students.

Participants in Digital Convergence Lab projects are not paid, but the DCL will assist students in applying for independent study credit in students' home department in cooperation with a faculty member in that department. Students work with other team members from multiple disciplines, a faculty coach, design and development professionals, and a client. Programming experience is not required but may be helpful. 

The selection process includes a brief web application and an in-person interview. 

All juniors, seniors and graduate students are welcome to apply.

Contact Jason Underwood


The purpose of the mobile application is to “impact campus-wide retention rates.” The team used established instructional design theory and mobile app usability principles to develop a prototype for such an application. The result is the foundation of a product that will benefit the university and its students.

The clients main goal was to provide a user-friendly application that could be used (primarily) by Northern Illinois University (NIU) undergraduates. This app is currently being used by NIU students and their families. For more information or to download the app go to:


Read more: Ask NIU

Dime Novel Team - Spring 2016

Spring 2016 - Dime Novels

In this course student team members used text mining technology to explore the University Libraries’ large digital collection of Dime Novels.


Text mining, a variety of data mining, provides researchers with an opportunity to analyze very large bodies of text, much more than an individual could ever read with understanding. Text mining software reveals patterns within a collection of works. One basic technology, topic modeling, reveals the frequency with which specific words occur in a set of texts, and which most frequently appear in close proximity to each other. It is especially useful in determining the subject matter of unlabeled text(s). Another, sentiment analysis, helps researchers to evaluate a writer’s attitude or emotional state pertaining to a topic, or her/his intended emotional communication (i.e., the emotions that the author hopes to evoke in the reader).  

Dime Novels emerged as an inexpensive format for popular literature in the mid-nineteenth century and remained popular in the first decades of the twentieth century. Early dime novels frequently told stories of the American West, and in the succeeding decades authors expanded their focus to include detective fiction, romances, as other genres. Until recently most scholars of American literature rejected Dime Novels as a mass-produced product with little literary value. In recent years a new generation of researchers, including those more broadly interested in American popular culture, have delved into them.

In addition to its scholarly applications, text mining technology is widely used in many aspects of private business, including social media monitoring and automated online ad placement. It has also proven valuable in the public sector, for example in the national security/intelligence community.

Additional information can be found in this recent WNIJ story.

Oculus Rift

Research Stage

Oculus Rift Graph2

The goal of this project was to create an inexpensive virtual reality experience to help users better visualize the three-dimensional models, representations, and graphs that are critical to learning advanced mathematics like Calculus. The ideal solution would strengthen the ability of students to be mentally fluent moving between symbolic equations, two dimensional diagrams, and three dimensional mental representations. Using relatively inexpensive hardware (a computer, the Oculus Rift and a game controller) and open source software developed as a part of this project, we would like to give advanced mathematics students and instructors a new way to explore three-dimensional representations of mathematics from a first person, immersive perspective. We hope that this experience would not only allow students to achieve a greater understanding of the particular model or graph being examined, but also scaffold students’ creation of their own mental three-dimensional representations of symbolic equations and two dimensional diagrams.

Read more: Oculus Rift

Collaborative Argumentation

Research Stage

argumentation icons

The object of this project was to design an online collaborative argumentation tool for students to engage in interdisciplinary literacy, science, and technology lessons. This project aimed at developing students’ argumentation skills from evidence to make claims as advocated by the Next Generation Science Standards (National Research council, 2011) and Common Core standards and have long term impact on the development of students’ scientific literacy.

In the spring of 2014 a student team began the design stage of an online tool to support collaborative argumentation in science for middle school students of different cultures.

Read more: Collaborative Argumentation

Lab Safety

Implementation Stage

Two teams of students developed an interactive learning module based on safety in the science lab. The purpose of the Lab SAF-T training application was to provide a fun, user-interactive lab safety training experience for college level lab students, as well as teaching assistants and lab professionals, to learn essential concepts of safety in the laboratory.  

Read more: Lab Safety

Surviving the Ash: A Game

DCL game designers created Surviving the Ash for NIU’s STEM Teen Read.

Past Project

During the Spring 2013 Semester, a team of NIU students from Computer Science, Educational Technology, and Time Arts designed and developed an immersive 3D Game inspired by the teen novel Ashfall by author Mike Mullin. The students worked with Mike and with Gillian King-Cargile of NIU’s STEM Read program to create the game and integrate it as a part of the reading program.

This multiplayer 3D game allows players to experience the world, created by Mike Mullin, in which a volcano beneath Yellowstone Park has exploded, covering Midwestern United States in a blanket of ash and ashen snow. Players scavenge for food and water, escape encampments, treat diseases, and solve problems while they search for family members. The team built “Surviving the Ash” using the 3D game engine Unity 3D, Jibe, and Smartfox, programming primarily in Javascript and C# and building assets in 3D Studio Max and Photoshop. Surviving the Ash was presented to the client in May 2013 and was debuted for public play that following Summer at NIU STEM Camps.

Read more: Surviving the Ash: A Game

Picodroid - Full Body Physics

In the Summer and Fall semesters of 2011, two teams of NIU students, subject matter experts, and coaches designed and developed a video game using the Microsoft's XBox 360 Kinect interface technology to engage middle and high-school students in fundamentals of physics and chemistry using their bodies rather than a game controller to navigate through a world filled with subatomic particles while they build elements.

Read more: Picodroid - Full Body Physics

Literacy In Motion

On December 3, 2012 a team of NIU students presented the Literacy in Motion, Bunnies in Space video game that they developed for their client. In the spring and fall semesters of 2012 two student teams designed and developed an interactive video game experience that helps kids learn to read and spell while staying physically active and engaged. This body motion game, developed with the Microsoft Kinect camera provides a new and engaging way for kids to learn while staying active.

Read more: Literacy In Motion

Lady in Red and Black

In spring 2011 the NIU Digital Convergence Lab partnered with faculty, staff, and students on a project that created an interactive, online exhibition of vintage fashions that explores NIU’s history and culture in the 20th century. The team included five undergraduate and graduate students with backgrounds in art and educational technology.

Read more: Lady in Red and Black

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