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‘Golden ticket’ degree: Digital communication arts online

A woman stands over a desk while looking at a computer monitor and using a mouse in a production studio. Digital communication arts

Program’s focus on new media offers skills that lead to opportunity-filled careers

By Tyler Hansen
July 21, 2020

Do you know the meaning of the term “new media”? If not, don’t worry. People ask what it means all the time.

Either way, it’s safe to assume that you interact with and consume new media with nearly every waking hour. It’s how we get our information, how we engage with friends and family, how we entertain ourselves.

And it’s the foundation of Oregon State University’s digital communication arts bachelor’s degree program.

Now delivered online by nationally ranked Oregon State Ecampus, the DCA program focuses on the storytelling capacity of media and prepares students to be successful navigators of ever-changing technology.

“New media is simply mass communication that utilizes computers and the internet for content creation and dissemination,” says Alina Padilla-Miller, an instructor and the online program coordinator for OSU’s New Media Communications program. “As technology advances, so does the way we create and disseminate our content.”

With industry standards and trends as its basis, the DCA program offers you the ability to experience a little bit of everything in the new media communication world. Padilla-Miller has all the answers on just how beneficial this program can be for your career.

A photo of Alina Padilla-Miller, an instructor and the online program coordinator for Oregon State University’s New Media Communications program. She is involved in the digital communication arts bachelor's program

Alina Padilla-Miller says digital communication arts faculty members such as herself act as “mentors to help students excel.”

What hands-on learning experiences will students receive in Oregon State’s digital communication arts online program?

“There really is a smorgasbord of hands-on learning experiences in this major that allow students to build their skills and create an impressive e-portfolio. That includes hands-on learning through the exploration of applied media aesthetics, data visualization, writing for the media and content management systems (CMS), social media strategy, sound design, podcast production, interactive and web design, documentary production, animation and virtual reality.”

What tangible skills will DCA students gain and be able to immediately apply in the workforce?

“We know that more and more of our daily existence requires access to the internet. Content creation, media management and critical thinking are essential in new media, and because this major focuses on these elements as the foundation of the degree, there are several ways in which it can be used for the workforce that are highly sought-after.

“Students with this degree can work in production (film, video, photography, audio and animation), social media strategy, consulting on UX and UI design, branding, marketing and advertising, writing across multiple platforms, and content creation for profit and nonprofit organizations alike.”

What are the career possibilities for someone who gains new media skills from the DCA program?

“I like to think of this degree as a golden ticket. There are so many opportunities and ways in which it can be used to gain employment or advance in one’s current field. Long gone are the days of the one-trick pony as it is expected that potential employees need to know many facets of the industry.

“That said, narrowing in on a focus and passion within this major is not only possible, it’s advisable so that students can stand apart and shine with their specific skill. The NMC faculty are not only instructors but also mentors to help students excel and succeed with their desired focus in and out of the classroom.”

The DCA coursework also examines new media’s role in society. Why is this relevant given the current state of the world?

“The coursework in many classes require students to create content, produce and engage with new media, but we also want students to deeply reflect and provide insight into trends of new media. This requires critical thinking about the role new media plays in society.

“We focus on cultural events and analyzing these aspects to better understand how and why we are using new media the way we do as well as how and why it affects us the way it does. It’s a very symbiotic relationship and one that continues to evolve.”

What are your top three tips on how to turn a digital communication arts degree into a rewarding career?

1. “Come into the program with a desire to create. We provide the metaphoric canvas, paint and palette and you create the masterpiece.”

2. “Find your niche. While we provide courses that address industry standards, future trends and make your skills marketable, having a specific interest will help you stand out. Once you know what your specific interest is, explore it as much as possible. We’re here to help.”

3. “Take advantage of every opportunity. Say yes to as much as you possibly can when given an opportunity. You never know where it might lead and at the very least, it will be a line in your résumé or e-portfolio. Branding yourself is key.”

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