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New Media Arts Education | 8 comments
[new] DeVry and beyond (Avg. Score: 3.00 / Raters: 1) (#8)
by paullloydsargent ( on Mon Nov 10th, 2003 at 08:10:41 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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Not prone to posting here, I'm moved to do so tonight because this discussion hits me where it hurts:

Just this week, I wrote a diatribe to my dept chair about the theoretical mess I'm experiencing in new media/art ed programs here in the US. Focusing on just one program (I'm an adjunct and thus teach at three very diff't institutions), I work in the Digital Multimedia Design track of a fine arts dept in a Chicago City College. Our student population tends to take my video production classes as a requirement for a 2-year degree they believe (thanks to adverts from DeVry, Univ of Phoenix, ITT, etc) will land them a $50grand+ programming/web design job (while watching daytime TV the other day, I counted five ads for media/tech programs in one commercial break). Most in my student population seem to believe they will start their own multimedia prod companies making websites, music videos, commercials, etc once they graduate and purchase, say, 5 or 6 grand in equipment. Well, I'm sure most of you, especially in the US, know the reality of this updated american dream. Trading on massive rises in unemployment and especially in layoffs of "unskilled workers," tech programs like ours have seen significant increases in enrollment from people looking to change their lives through learning technology skills.

This is diff't, I know, than a discussion of new media ed in larger universities and colleges, but here is the catch: my american-day-dreaming students (often older, often minorities, often with families and staggering financial woes) are in competition with career-minded new media grads from the Art Institute or U of Ill Chicago or MIT for that matter. And little has been written or spoken within this tech school world (or at least it doesn't trickle its way back to the classroom) of how to prepare students to compete, not just in technical application but, through years of liberal arts/art school education, in the one area for which I feel I was actually prepared: conceptual adaptability. My students want to learn video software for the same reasons they want to learn Flash or DreamWeaver: to add to their repertoire as much software as they can--the latest versions, too! They've been sold into the techno/commodity fetishism so persistent in new media education. And though they could easily get this technological component of education from the many texts available, they've come to us to for it. How we, as teachers in this tech ed world, prepare students for the practical, professional, theoretical and conceptual components of the new media environment (alongside the technical application for which they've come to us in the first place) is so very complicated. It is often in direct conflict with the very politics and philosophies that brought us to delve into new media studies back when we were students.

I certainly include in my video classes at the City Colleges a history of early video art and its Utopian promises, just as I would in an art school, but the rhetoric (in which I so much want to believe!!) sounds rather hollow when explained to someone who does not have the $21 for the required text, is angered by the suggestion that Fluxus (or the Critical Art Ensemble, for that matter) represents either art or democracy (it all just feels like exclusive, smart-assed shenanigans) and is really hoping I'll shut up and demo the new audio looping capacity of FinalCutPro4--despite the fact that our dept can't afford either the hardware or the software upgrades to move beyond version 3. It is unfair that the population drawn back into tech fields by late night TV ads (with their mixed-metaphors of libertarian free market opportunity, not-quite-Marxist electronic Utopian promises of agency, and shiny-new-car demonstrations of commodity fetishism) are so often the very "demographic" supposedly benefiting from this desktop revolution. It is unfair but true that they will be in competition (not just for that amazing high-end tech job but for an entry level, $18 grand a year job) with kids who, while in wealthy sub-urban high schools, learned Photoshop and Director to the degree that in college their instructors have trouble keeping up with their abilities. It is unfair but true (and entirely missing from the DeVry ads) that they will be in competition with people whose time in tech sector work is simply as a steppingstone to executive positions similar to their parents' jobs. And it is unfair but often true that only a small percentage of these students will even complete their 2-year degree as they can't compete, even while still in school, with students who need not work fulltime, who are not dependent on school labs and equipment, and/or who have been decidedly better prepared for the academic rigor of college.

Add to this mess massive budget cuts in state and federal money for education and a staggering lack of knowledge of or experience in technology/new media at the administrative level and it is not surprising to me that so many of my students don't trust intellectuals, educators, or any aspect of this system. I do still believe it is in my students' best interest to pursue careers in technology. And I continue to believe a grasp of new media theory is crucial for their survival in the horridly lop-sided world in which they must compete (even if they simply aspire to make online music videos!). I just wonder how to do it effectively. Practically, I wonder how others engaged in these issues on this site make it work. It may be a question specific to an american (and further, community or technical) college phenomenon, but I raise it nonetheless.


signs, signs, everywhere signs...
[ Parent ]

[new] New Media ed (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#2)
by TreborScholz on Tue Oct 7th, 2003 at 01:59:48 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
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Hey Amy,

I think we pretty much agree.

In the US on the one hand we find undergraduate students under tremendous pressure to find a job - self-imposed, caused by peers and parents, just like you say. Then there is the university that aims at high student numbers. And in this complex interrelationship- the instructor.

I think it's important we don't fall into the 'us' versus 'them' dichotomy, students vs instructors, that's not helpful.

Vocational training is crucial as much as conceptual training, general skills. An exclusive emphasis on software programs is extremely problematic as it leaves out the history of the tools we use, the politics of these very tools and the all permeating social context.

I'm of course in full agreement that students need a secure job that helps them pay off their student loans, get health insurance and not become part of the increasing number of working poor in the US.

But given the sad state of the economy many students may not end up with a job in "the industry." What are they left with if education does not go beyond teaching
vocational skills which may be dated after 6 months? "The vocational" needs to include critical thinking skills that are outside of what ted describes as teaching of facts."

Critical independent thinking is something that will help students in this post-dotbomb age against the market odds.

_/ _/ _/
[ Parent ]

  • new media ed by ryangriffis, 10/15/2003 06:25:53 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME (none / 0)

New Media Arts Education | 8 comments


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