College of DuPage Offers Interactive Media Degree Program
By Brian Kleemann
The new Interactive Media degree at College of DuPage combines courses from three programs to best prepare students for careers developing web sites, digital interfaces and other interactive media applications.
Recently approved by the Illinois Community College Board, the Associate in Applied Science degree requires coursework from the Graphic Design, Motion Picture/TV and Computer Information Systems programs. This cross-discipline approach provides students with the skills for entry-level employment as interface designers, user experience designers, interaction designers and front-end developers. Students can also transfer to a four-year school to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“The Interactive Media degree ties courses together in a logical way,” said John Callegari, Professor and Coordinator of COD’s Graphic Design program. “Interdisciplinary studies are becoming the norm, and interactive design is both a technical pursuit and a creative endeavor.”
In the summer of 2014, a consultant from the University of Wisconsin-Stout analyzed the Graphic Design, MPTV and CIS curriculum at College of DuPage. He interviewed faculty, visited classes and then determined a new degree would be a natural fit, as no new courses or disciplines needed to be created.
Ryan Clayton, a former College of DuPage student and currently a lecturer for the Graphic Design program, said the new degree addresses a growing need for students to have that combination of technology and creativity.
“We are now teaching a generation of students who grew up with computers from day one,” he said. “With the right skills, you can enter the interactive media field and become a dominant force. But you need to be a jack of all trades and a master of some.”
Callegari said employers are looking beyond specialists in a specific area.
“Thirty years ago, you became an expert in one thing and built your career on that,” he said. “In this digital age, specialization may help you get a job, but the reality is you often need to do everything – web design, editing, filmmaking, graphics. If you look at any industry, you find career jobs that require interactive design.”
According to Onward Search, a staffing resource for creative and technology careers, the Chicago area is the country’s sixth-largest market with a salary range from $67,000 to $136,000 for related interactive media/user experience fields. Additionally, a 2013 report by CNN Money projected that jobs for user interface designers will grow 27.6 percent during the next decade.
John Rangel, Associate Professor of MPTV, said the Interactive Media degree provides a solid foundation in many skills.
“For example, when you take a drawing class, you learn how to see, compose and conceptualize,” he said. “With general education requirements in communication, you learn skills that will help you meet clients, pitch ideas and sell yourself. Outside of the degree requirements, electives add on even more skills, such as editing, 3-D animation, and motion graphics and special effects.”
Rangel said most schools do not have an Interactive Media degree.
“Our consultant said no school in the state can compete with what we offer, so this degree really gives students a leg up,” he said. “He said we have the classes to make students job-ready now.”
College of DuPage is an accredited community college that serves more than 29,000 students each term. The College, which grants nine associate degrees and more than 170 certificates in 100 areas of study, is the second largest provider of public undergraduate education in Illinois.
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