This blog has suffered in recent months due to the fact that all the free time seems to have been sucked out of the schedule.
Recently, we have been at work designing and implementing a new series of courses at Southern Oregon University called Digital Media Foundations. The inspiration for the project came at a time when the university was wrestling with a $4 million budget deficit. People were being laid off and academic programs cut.
During this period, fortunately, opportunities to reorganize some of our programs also came up. With all the turmoil going on, a few instructors and very supportive deans decided to look into ways of optimizing learning experiences offered to students, especially in the areas of digital art, visual journalism, video production, and web design.
We started out by counting how many courses across disciplines teach pretty much the same things such as digital software applications, digital photography, and digital video. It was actually surprising to see so much overlap in content across the curriculum. The idea wasn't to replace existing courses, but to collaborate on integrative ways of teaching digital and technological skills to incoming students.
After months of meetings, the first of the DMF sequence of courses got off the ground. With four instructors lecturing and working in labs, students are being exposed to thinking through the language of our increasingly digitally-based visual world. In other words, the course explores some of the fundamentals of visual narrative, design, and critical thinking about the creation and consumption of visuals in a digital age.
Interestingly, the biggest challenges have not been in designing curriculum or working with students, but in helping the administration and other faculty to realize the value of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching digital and technological literacy. Despite the perception that learning institutions are often called progressive places, the speed at which change can occur seems to frustrate a lot of people. Fortunately, when momentum and timing is on your side opportunities present themselves in surprising ways.