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CCU Atheneum: Student Marcus Mtshali works on a poster design in ARTD 301, Intermediate Graphic Design, taught by Professor Jeff Case.
Student Marcus Mtshali works on a poster design in ARTD 301, Intermediate Graphic Design, taught by Professor Jeff Case.

CCU offers new media and digital culture for changing world

by Brian Druckenmiller
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Remember sitting down to a morning cup of coffee with the local newspaper blackening your fingertips? While some may still enjoy this ritual, more and more fingers are now ink-free as we turn to computers, smart phones or tablets to peruse the Internet for news. The world is now available wherever and whenever we want it, and Coastal Carolina University’s new media and digital culture minor offers students the chance to make the most of these new technologies.

The minor in new media and digital culture was established during the 2009-2010 academic year. It promotes the examination and application of new media, database design, digital archiving, web design, graphic design, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and audio/video production, as well as other media. Aside from classes in web design and graphics, the minor offers new courses in Geographical Information Systems, gaming and Google Earth. In essence, the minor keeps students up to date with technology’s direct effect on everyone.

“New media refers to the tools and resources that define our work and social relationships, everything from computer simulations and social media environments to your smart phone and Kindle,” said Jennifer Boyle, assistant professor and new media co-coordinator. “These media are having a transformative effect on our lives that goes well beyond their function as mere tools, considering the social, economic and cultural impacts that have come with it.”

This impact is seen everywhere, particularly in the example that opened this article. As Boyle points out, journalism has changed significantly over the past 10 years. Newspapers have become online entities with Internet subscriptions rising and the sales of print copies dwindling. On top of this, millions turn to their Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter for current news, and blogging is becoming more popular every day.

The relevance of the minor is obvious, but its potential applications are phenomenal since they pertain to students in a number of different majors. Companies want to hire employees who know “what’s hot” to gain exposure and increase revenue. A candidate equipped with knowledge of social media and web design may have an edge over the competition. In that sense, this minor will stand out on almost any transcript and résumé.

“We are all dealing with technology daily,” said Jeffrey Case, assistant professor of graphic design and co-coordinator of the new media and digital culture minor. “The program provides students with the knowledge they need to take any degree even further.”

It’s no surprise that students are enthusiastic about the minor. Participation in the program doubled during the Spring 2012 semester.

“The new media minor is crucial to my understanding and use of these technologies,” said Kara Olson, a communication major with a concentration in public relations. “A new aspect of public relations involves using blogs and other forms of social media. The minor provides an interesting perspective on how people view new media in its various forms in today’s culture.”

It's plausible that the minor may go major in the not-too-distant future. Degree programs of this sort are becoming popular on campuses nationwide, the trend seemingly spreading like the media outlets these programs cover. For now, the minor stretches across the disciplines, giving these future employees experience in a dynamic, cutting-edge field.

“Students are able to pursue the minor as both a field of study and as a space to create their own digital texts, software applications, design and art,” said Boyle. “With the new media and digital culture minor stamped on their transcripts, students gain a real edge in entering the work force.”


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