By Marino Greco
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become an important tool in the public relations arsenal of businesses large and small and companies are seeking graduates with the ability to communicate effectively online through the use of multimedia.
That’s the rationale by which Humber College Lakeshore is offering a new Bachelor of Digital Communications starting in September 2015. The new program provides students the opportunity to try a variety of media production classes, including photography, video editing, and website design.
Program coordinator Gemma Richardson said the program was developed to offer a uniquely comprehensive education experience.
“They don’t have just the practical skills, but also the high level critical thinking skills that you get with a degree level education. It’s a hybrid of theory and practice,” said Richardson.
The program was developed with input from industry and academics, according to Basil Guinane, associate dean in the School of Media Studies & Information Technology.
“Increasingly, what we’re hearing from employers is that digital literacy is extremely important in terms of employable skills,” said Guinane. “Every organization is in fact a publisher nowadays. They have to reach an audience and their audience is their customers.”
Humber graduates who have worked in industry identify the need for effective communicators with digital media skills mixed with theory. Marc Varone is Humber graduate who has a similarly broad degree, a Bachelor of Industrial Design.
“That’s your first impression, you have to show your aesthetics and what you can give to the client. It’s the difference of having three or four clients, or 10,” Varone said.
Varone has worked for companies like Design Plastics International and Veritime. He remembers one client that improved their digital profile.
“There was no web presence, they just had a website that had probably not been updated since 2005,” Varone said. “Recently, they have upgraded it, started a Facebook page and put themselves on the map and I know for a fact that they’ve received more clients since then.”
He does concede self-learners have plenty of great resources outside of postsecondary institutions.
“There’s tons of tutorials and sites, and just by right clicking on sites you like you can inspect elements and get ideas,” said Varone.
But according to educators like Richardson, postsecondary education is still the best way to develop a certain comfort level with a variety of technology.
“Instead of learning as you go, employers want to see people who come out with the skills to manage digital communications,” said Richardson.