Educators explore bridge between digital media, business, technology at conference

College of the Canyon's Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center. Source: College of the Canyons Public Information Office

Teachers, administrators, media experts and business professionals from throughout California spent three days studying the skills and knowledge needed for various career pathways in today’s changing workforce.

The three-day Digital Media and Business Educators Conference, held at College of the Canyons’ Dr. Diane G. Van Hook University Center from Wednesday to Friday, provided information to faculty in the California Community College System and teachers in school districts throughout the state.

“I came last year for the first time.  It was really exciting to meet other media educators and some of the workshops were really pertinent to what I teach,” said Nancy Jo Ward, graphic design teacher at Allan Hancock College.  “I hope they keep doing it.”

With workshops, speakers and networking events, the conference highlighted how digital literacy is need for every job and how technology, business and media are woven into the fabric of the modern world.

Break-out sessions of the conference included five tracks to focus on career pathways for digital media occupations, entrepreneurships and jobs with digital skills.

The sessions included Business: Digital Media’s New Playground, Digital Media in Technology, Social Responsibility, Entertainment, Innovation and Insights, and discussed everything from 3D printing and artificial intelligence to e-Marketing, production workflow and open source game design.

Overall, the conference, that was available on a mobile app and online, aimed to inform teachers and administrators of the best practices for teaching business and digital media in a high school and community college setting.

Linda Muhlhauser, a technology support specialist for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, recently stepped out of the classroom after 34 years to become the support for teachers on business, digital media and technology implementation in the classroom.

“This is a great conference for me to be able to take some information back to my teachers that are in these ranges of industry,” Muhlhauser said.  “So much of what we do is hands-on and it’s a great career path for so many of our students who are not traditionally four-year students.”

Ward said the conference exposed her to technologies outside of what she teaches in graphic design.

“We kind of get in silos within our own little departments and worlds,” she said.  “Coming to something like his opens me up so I can make recommendations to students who might have additional interests.”

The conference also included two keynote speakers on both Thursday and Friday morning before attendees separated to attend break-out sessions.

On Friday, keynote speakers included Mike Cavanagh, founder of Key Code Media, Carol Schankler, division director for Robert Half Creative, and Jon Swift, branch manager for Robert Half Technology.

Cavanagh’s keynote, “A One Minute Video is Worth 1.8 Million Words,” discussed the importance of using video on platforms like YouTube, Periscope and Facebook Live to reach and grow business audiences.

“This is becoming the new medium for communication,” said Cavanagh, who founded Key Code Media in 2001.  “It’s not just the film student and it’s not just the broadcast student that needs to be savvy in these broadcast tools…  It’s now that a one minute video is worth 1.8 million words.”

Cavanagh also noted the importance of Facebook Live to target people who are already a business’ fans to create promotions and increase engagement.

“The whole game is changing,” he said.  “Live video creates a sense of urgency.  It holds your viewers’ attention and reaches more audiences of multiple viewing platforms.”

Following Cavanagh, Schankler and Swift of Robert Half discussed the “2017 Hiring and Compensation Trends for Creative and IT Professionals.”

In their keynote, the two discussed the skills employers look for, the need for technical and digital skills in creative and IT jobs, the average salaries for different job fields and the expectations in the workplace.

“We are one of the worlds’ largest specialty staffing firms.  We help place professionals in contract and consulting positions,” Schankler said.  “The skilled talent is getting swiped up quickly.”

The two also discussed the specific skills—like the Adobe Suite, Google Analytics, HTML, Java Script, Microsoft and Cloud Computing—needed to careers in the creative and IT job fields.

“What we’re seeing is that even though there’s an increase in tech and software jobs, they want them to be strong on the front end and the back end,” Swift said.

The two also discussed the trends and increases in salaries for those in the digital and technical fields, and the portfolios and references employers hope to see from applicants.

“Our clients look for very specific things in the portfolios of people,” Schankler said.

Thursday’s keynote speakers were James Brady, CIO of Kaiser Permanente Orange County, and Erik Kellener of CxO Consulting, Inc.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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