The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

Digital Media Design

Digital Multimedia Design (Online)

Three colleges, one program. The Digital Multimedia Design (DIGMD) program

links courses from the College of Arts and Architecture School of Visual Arts (SoVA), the College of Communications (COMM), and the College of Information Sciences & Technology (IST) at Penn State. The program is designed to prepare a new generation of 21st century learners in art and design media, visual communication, and digital literacy. The content and form of the curriculum embodies its purpose because the entire degree is delivered online through Penn State World Campus. As students are introduced to different domains of knowledge and ways of knowing from across disciplines they demonstrate their understandings by applying their knowledge in a range of digital contexts and settings. Learners apply contemporary design methods to engage real-world issues in conceptually robust, technically varied, and expressively rich projects.

Digital media generally refers to the storage and transmission of information in increasingly varied multimedia digital formats and devices, and within a changing array of modes of communication. Design is a means by which we respond to change in a purposeful way by focusing on issues, problems and opportunities and developing plans for taking innovative and strategic actions. Hence digital design shapes and impacts the physical and virtual spaces people inhabit.

When embedded in problem-based, purpose-driven inquiry the curriculum is dynamic and responsive to individual needs, interests and aspirations. This approach is well suited and expertly supported in the resource rich online environment. Students take a series of prescribed courses in digital multimedia design, supporting courses in related areas, and additional courses drawn from online tracks in visual arts and design, information sciences and technologies, and communications. The content is sequenced in order to be informing and transforming as students move through the degree.

DIGMD Program Hub

Due to the asynchronous online nature of the DIGMD program, an online web platform called Program Hub was created to facilitate program identity and community for enrolled students. DIGMD program courses are developed as Open Education Resources (OER), enabling participation in the current national conversation about open learning materials. The Program Hub hosts a student web-based portfolio system, where students can display their work, skills and credentials, and eventually migrate their web-based portfolios to their own domain upon graduation from the program. The Program Hub serves as an ongoing platform for digital innovation to help meet the unique needs of a digitally mediated design program.

Implementing the DIGMD curriculum involves a balance between content delivery and content creation. The course/lesson format is versatile and give students varied means of engaging with the course materials. Even when the content presented is prescribed, and the instructional mode is expository, full use of multimedia presentational methods is designed to accommodate multiple learning styles and varied professional interests. Similarly, the curriculum encourages nimble learners because the online setting is an interactive learning space well suited to encouraging students to explore and adapt their learning to emerging individual expertise and interests.

The DIGMD degree has two identifiable curriculum strengths, and these assets are enhanced due to the contextually rich learning encounters that can be designed and delivered in an online setting, and assessed with authentic means that honor complex modes of learning.

First, the degree integrates discipline-based courses in visual arts and design, information sciences and technology, communications, and general education electives. The phrase, ‘integration with identity; acknowledge the limits to interdisciplinary approaches that seek to blend and overlap assumed areas of common content and method.

The effectiveness of this curriculum model is anchored by an approach to assessment that is considered an authentic means of accommodating the particular learning modes and method from each participating College, as well as being flexible enough to meet individual learning styles and needs. Course assessment protocols are consistent with the discipline areas, which engage multiple modes of learning and work with multiple forms of media that blend competency-based approaches to assessment that emphasize measurable outcomes, and more open-ended assessment strategies that encourage the development of students’ capabilities over time whereby assessment is framed in light of the options opened up by new learning.