Inclusion of long-standing CMC programs reflect new media trends

By Stefanie Kilts

Photography, graphic design join Isaacson School for New Media

Walter Isaacson makes a point about the future of media as Jim Calaway and Charlie Firestone listen. Isaacson was keynote speaker at a day of presentations and discussion panels to dedicate the launch of Colorado Mountain College’s Isaacson School for New Media in July. Credit and noncredit courses in the new program started this fall. The college’s renowned professional photography and graphic design programs have just been wrapped into the Isaacson School. Photo Ed Kosmicki

The Isaacson School for New Media has joined forces with Colorado Mountain College’s renowned professional photography and graphic design programs to meet the needs of students.

“From the beginning, photography and design were central to the evolution of our new media program, so they were already a big part of the new media curriculum,” said Dr. Rick Johnson, instructional chair.

Johnson said now that the Isaacson School for New Media is off the ground and running, wrapping in photography and graphic design under the new media school’s umbrella furthers the Isaacson School mission to prepare students for real-world work.

CMC’s Isaacson School for New Media started classes in August, in the form of associate degrees and occupational certificates, as well as noncredit Black Diamond workshops designed to help mid-career professionals and entrepreneurs learn new media skills. The Isaacson School’s new media program includes three tracks for prospective students: digital journalism, marketing and media production.

The school is named in honor of author and Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, to acknowledge and thank him for his lifelong experience in media and his outstanding leadership in highlighting the role of community colleges.

An independent feasibility study found that 96 percent of Colorado employers surveyed expect they will expand new media activities for their businesses in the near future. This could take the form of social media marketing campaigns, new and redesigned websites that include audio and video content, and multimedia approaches to communicating and connecting with clients and customers, for a start.

Photography, graphic design sharpen students’ tools

Brian Tinker, director of CMC’s graphic design program, said the joining of programs was a natural transition, as the college’s curricula in photography and graphic design have been evolving to reflect new media trends.

“In actual real-world practice, new media is often a collaborative effort, and the grouping of people involved changes from project to project,” Tinker said. “The Isaacson School will enable a cross-discipline environment for students that reflects what they’ll experience in professional practice. It’s the optimal way for students to develop the context that can aid their success in the new media field after graduation. Today’s new media professionals often have to ‘wear lots of different hats.’ We want adaptive mindset and breadth of experience to be something students develop from day one.”

Tinker said the shift towards collaboration between programs will allow his graphic design students to take new media courses and for new media students to take graphic design courses.

He said the tools and skills of professionals overlap, from the software and technology they use to the work they produce. “We wanted CMC to reflect that connectedness and make it a richer learning experience for students in all three programs,” he said.

“We are excited about the potential,” said Derek Johnston, associate professor and photography program director. “We will use the spirit of collaboration going forward while maintaining our areas of specialty.”

Such a crossover is already evident. For example, the photography program offers a class called New Media Storytelling, and the graphic design program incorporates web design courses.

For more information about the Isaacson School, call Colorado Mountain College in Aspen at 970-925-7740, ext. 2417. Registration is underway for spring classes and workshops.