(This story is sponsored by BCIT Business.)
These days, Edward Fajardo is spending a fair amount of time testing drones with cameras. And for good reason. The head of BCIT’s New Media Design and Web Development program is hoping to incorporate this technology into a new two-year diploma program that will be airborne next April.
“Picture this—we have salmon spawning in North Vancouver in a river,” Fajardo tells the Straight by phone from his office. “Now, you have this water full of fish dying with blood in the water. You have a camera going underwater to capture that in a really cool frame. Then you bring that camera up out of the water. And with the next frame that you stop, you have a drone taking that picture. It’s going to be amazing.”
It’s one of a multitude of approaches that Fajardo and other BCIT faculty plans to employ in the new diploma program to provide a rich, immersive education in new media design and web development. According to him, the cornerstone is storytelling. This will be supplemented with comprehensive training in communications, content creation for new media, web programming, app development, and UI/UX.
Students will also learn everything from digital photography, graphic design, motion graphics, Photoshop, information architecture, and web animation—as well as several levels of web scripting—to perfect storytelling across a range of new media. A course called “New Technologies” will include instruction on how to use drones on new-media projects.
“A client may say to one of our students that ‘I need to start with creating my identity or the identity of my business,’—and they will be confident to assess the requirements to set up that identity in visual components and create a logo or logo type,” Fajardo explains. “Then for the same client, they can create a website. They can create an app.”
Students begin by learning how to create prototypes of websites or apps using web languages such as PHP and SQL. This enables them to launch apps for the Android landscape.
In addition, Fajardo says, they will have sufficient insights into social-media integration and networking to share that client’s story over a multitude of platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. And the program’s emphasis on Google Analytics and other metrics will provide students with the ability to evaluate the impact of campaigns and make the necessary adjustments.
In other words, graduates will have the complete package of digital skills after finishing the 18-month program.
“It puts them in a good position to really understand the return on investment for businesses,” Fajardo says, “but also to appreciate what’s really happening with changes in different audiences and fluctuations in trends.”
The program concludes with a self-directed internship. It will consist of a eight-week project that can be combination of client-based or company-based assignments.
When asked which occupations might be available to grads of BCIT’s New Media Design and Web Development diploma program, Fajardo offered a dizzying array of possibilities. They include new media project manager, interactive marketing specialist, interactive marketing designer, front-end web developer, user-experience designer, interactive media developer, social media manager, corporate storyteller, and search-engine-optimization specialist.
The diploma program is a dramatic expansion of an existing certificate in new media, which was launched in 1998.
“The ratio of grads finding jobs is very high in this program,” Fajardo says.
In the diploma program, one course is called “The Law and New Media”. It helps students learn about contracts. Another course called “Project Management for New Media” provides insights on different ways to create content for websites and apps, including through Waterfall, Agile, and Scrum.
Fajardo emphasizes that instructors have a great deal of industry experience and are up-to-date on the newest technologies. And an industry advisory committee, which includes many BCIT alumni from the new-media certificate program, ensures that the faculty are aware of the skills that employers are seeking in the rapidly changing digital environment.
“Many companies that we have out there working in new media have been incubated in our classrooms,” Fajardo says.
Fajardo was part of the first cohort of students back in 1998 and he began teaching in 2003. He’s a strong advocate for BCIT’s cohort model because it provides students with a group of peers who can refer one another to jobs—or even hire them if any of these peers launch their own companies.
Fajardo believes that another strength of the diploma program is its “specific hierarchy” of coursework. Each subject is linked to a higher level of development in subsequent terms. He pointed to Web Scripting 1, Web Scripting 2, and Web Scripting 3 as an example of this laddered approach.
The new diploma program in New Media Design and Web Development will be offered at BCIT’s downtown Vancouver campus. For more information, visit www.bcit.ca.