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Trustees Approve Digital Literacy Program

The West Shore Community College Board of Trustees on Monday approved a new associate of arts degree program in digital literacy. Students will be able to enroll in the program for the fall 2018 semester. The two-year program is the first at West Shore to join the arts and sciences curriculum and the occupational curriculum to create a single, interdisciplinary program.

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Students will gain broad, overlapping skills in information retrieval, critical analysis, and evaluation, as well as digital marketing, computer programming, and digital composition. The program will include units on legal and ethical standards such as copyright, fair use, security, and privacy.

“This new program addresses one of the most sought after attributes in graduates, communication skills. Not only will students be able to immediately use this degree in the workplace, but they can also transfer all credits to the University of Michigan,” said WSCC President Scott Ward.

“The program will give students long-term employment flexibility in today’s knowledge society,” said West Shore Professor of Humanities John Wolff.

The program meets Michigan Transfer Agreement requirements that help students transfer to related programs in four-year institutions and provides a foundation for programs including English, media studies, public policy, marketing, design, and many other traditional majors.

With strong support from the University of Michigan School of Information, the digital literacy program was also designed as preparation for the U of M bachelor of science in information (BSI). One hundred percent of BSI graduates have secured full-time employment with an average starting salary of $70,000.

Wolff, in collaboration with faculty members from West Shore’s communications and occupational divisions, designed the program with student and employer needs in mind.

A February 2017 survey of 350 business owners in the College district showed digital literacy skills are in demand. Nearly half the respondents indicated a willingness to offer paid internships to digitally literate students, and 67 percent said they hope to hire one or more digitally literate employees in the next three years.

The interdisciplinary curriculum of the digital literacy degree will include courses in composition, communications, and digital marketing, as well as real-world or service-learning opportunities. Students may choose electives from across the curriculum in accordance with their education plans and career goals.

In conjunction with the digital literacy program, several West Shore faculty are participating in internal professional development training activities to increase digital literacy across the curriculum. These efforts will help ensure that all students will graduate with 21st-century skills and the ability to adapt to rapidly changing employment situations throughout their careers, said Wolff.

To learn more about the new program, contact the college’s Office of Student Services.

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