Major In Focus: Multimedia and Digital Culture

Major In Focus: Multimedia and Digital Culture

What in the world does a major in Multimedia and Digital Culture look like?

Last week I wrote about my Creative Writing major at UPJ, and next week I'll be writing about my French major. As for this week, I'm giving an in-depth look into UPJ's major in Multimedia and Digital Culture. You can look at the curriculum for the major here before reading on, if you so wish.

The Multimedia and Digital Culture major, which we typically shorten to "MMDC," is an interdisciplinary major which falls within the Humanities division. It was devised by a committee of professors, but the two leaders in the committee came from the Writing and English Literature departments. This piece of information may help to paint the essence of the program.

Beyond the Gen Ed courses required of students in most programs at the University and the specified Humanities courses needed for students in all Humanities programs, there are five boxes which make up the MMDC curriculum. The smallest box consists of just one course: Human 1500 MMDC Senior Capstone. I will point out that this course is marked simply as a Humanities course. This is because, at least as of this Spring, there aren't any courses listed as MMDC XXXX. The three courses (one of which is an internship option) specific to the major are all designated as Human. The major is almost perfect in its interdisciplinary nature, so I suppose the slight can be embraced. As for the Capstone course, it appears to be an opportunity for students to showcase any and all skills that they have obtained throughout their MMDC studies.

The box titled "MMDC Introductory Requirements" contains six three-credit courses and a one-credit applications course, all of which must be taken for fulfillment of the major. Despite the name, students can take courses pretty freely from the three boxes I haven't mentioned yet without having completed the Intro box. The courses in this box establish good ground work for future courses, but there's a small amount of actual progression which must occur within the program. While some of the courses available for selection in other boxes do have prerequisites, only one course has one of the introductory courses as a prerequisite. That course, by the way, is Intermediate Programming Using JAVA. The introductory requirements for the major are: Media Criticism (Comm), Mass Comm Process (Comm), Intro to Computer Programming (with its application course; Computer Science), Digital Humanities (English Lit), Writing for Digital Media (English Writing), and Digital Tools and Technology (Humanities). These courses provide information on the history of media studies, the history of media as technology, some basic programs involved with multimedia, some digital literature and new media, the creation of digital media, and some additional tools and technologies directly applicable to students in the program.

Three courses are required out of the box labeled "Digital Authorship." These include the JAVA class I mentioned earlier, two English Literature courses, five English Writing courses, and Digital Spanish. Three of the Writing courses require students to have taken Intro to Professional Writing or Intro to Creative Writing first. All of the courses in this box deal with creation of digital works and study of digital works. Digital Poetry, for example, required students to both experience/experiment with digital poems and create some of their own digital poems. Critical essays were also assigned. Students studying Writing or Literature may be drawn to the MMDC major due to this box.

The "Digital Culture and Philosophy Box" requires students to select two out of five courses. There are two Philosophy courses offered, one Communications course, one English Literature course, and one Journalism course. These courses are perhaps more analytical than the other courses in the major. If a student takes Rhetorical Criticism from this box, that student will need only two additional Comm classes to obtain a minor, as Public Speaking is required for all students and two of the intro courses for the major are Comm.

Two courses are chosen out of three disciplines in the "Advanced Visual Design and Coding" box. For business students, three business classes are offered that involve design and coding. These courses have prerequisites that could make them less attractive to students who don't wish to study business. It's possible that those prerequisites could be worked around, but I definitely can't make any promises. Five Journalism courses are offered, though one course is actually a prerequisite for another course. Those courses may be a bit easier to get onto your schedule. The third discipline offered is an internship. A Journalism internship can actually be taken in this box, but if taken, a Journalism course could not be used as the second discipline in the box. The other internship option is listed as Human. This box seems to be more career-oriented than the others, at least for most career paths.

The MMDC major has only been available at UPJ for about two years now. It represents new outlooks on education and our world, maintaining synthesis of skills and information which stays mostly within the Humanities, but also strays into other areas which have become more and more adjacent to the Humanities in recent decades. Multimedia and Digital Culture can stand alone as a major with solid potential for our digital world, or it can work alongside other majors such as Creative Writing, Communications, or Business Information Systems to provide additional rounding and perspective. I'm excited to see where this program goes as it develops over time.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay

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It's Time To Admit 'Natural' Intelligence An Outdated Idea

It's not about how smart you are, but about how hard you work.

Elementary school was a weird time. MAP tests, AR reading comprehension, PACT and PASS and virtually any other acronym you can think of for the standardized tests that ultimately distinguished whether or not you were considered relatively gifted. And, while in theory, this may or may not have prepared students for the rigorous curriculum of more challenging courses, I still have to ask: Is this really necessary at age 8?

Don't get me wrong, preparing kids with the highest quality education is what I'm here for... but it's also relatively difficult to decide who's "gifted and talented" and who's not.

Maybe I'm wrong, but with the rise of the gifted and talented curriculum in the early 2000s, came the plateau of the "honors kid burnout" in the 2010s.

Similar to the stigma of the participation trophy in kids sports, the establishment of a "more advanced curriculum" for students as young as 7 or 8 (I put that in quotations because, realistically, these courses were not significantly more advanced), in my opinion, unintentionally reinforced the idealized form of "natural intelligence".

Natural intelligence ultimately presents the idea that "smart" individuals should be able to learn or even simply have the knowledge, without the need to practice, memorize, or really study anything. You weren't considered "intelligent" if it took you more time to learn something, or you had to ask for help. Facts and memorization, intellect and intuition, came naturally and you either had it or you didn't.

This is problematic on multiple fronts.

The process of reaffirming elementary school students (again, this comes from my own personal experience and observation of those with similar experiences), and reinforcing the idea that they are "naturally" smart, gifted, or talented is great in ego-boosting throughout public school.


Entering into an actually academically advanced environment, whether it be Advanced Placement courses, or Dual Enrollment, or even as far as into college, there becomes a problem.

Students that have been told throughout a vast majoring of their lives that they were naturally gifted with intelligence have very early in life placed a negative association with studying, working hard, or having difficulty with something.

Students that have gotten straight A's throughout middle and high school simply by glancing at notes before the exam or by using common sense are have already been conditioned to associate something as simple as making flashcards or asking a teacher for help with failure.

Natural intelligence, natural talent, and virtually any idea that individuals have to be born with a skill in order to be significantly gifted is more often than not, counterproductive.

Making the goal of public education something as one dimensional as letter grades, and conditioning students to view them as more of a ranking system than as a showcase of hard work, does more than just discourage morale. It encourages efficiency. It encourages academic dishonesty. It encourages getting an A by any means necessary because, for someone who has been defined as "naturally intelligent" most of their life, they have no room for disappointment.

Children, especially in this day and age, need to be conditioned to view hard work as honorable, as respectable, and in no way a weakness, or something to be ashamed of. There are no "August Rush's" in this reality, but there are more than enough "Rudy."

Teaching kids that it was their hard work and their dedication that really got them that grade, alter how they view more than just grades. Encouraging hard work, diligence, dedication, and even something as simple as effort goes farther than just academics. Kids that are more encouraged to take risks and think creatively become kids that are more willing to try, regardless of the outcome.

Because life isn't really a grading system, but a test of skills and attitude.

It's not how smart you are, but how hard you work.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Steve Carell, Send Elisabeth to UMich, Not UW-Madison Because They Don't Know What It's Like To Be The Best

Why would you want your mascot to be a badger?

Steve Carell,

Thank you for blessing the University of Michigan campus with your presence on Tuesday.

Of course, our university's greatness speaks for itself, but in case you need more convincing that this is the best school for your daughter, here are six reasons we're better than UW-Madison (and every other school that wants to recruit Elisabeth).

1. How could UW-Madison have the craziest game days when we have the craziest game days?

Perhaps you've heard of The Big House. The University of Michigan is home to the biggest stadium in the United States (and second largest in the world), and every single game day it's filled with students, alumni, and die-hard Michigan fans who bleed maize and blue. Come sing “The Victors" and "Mr. Brightside" with us, and listen to James Earl Jones narrate the most hype pregame video before we chant “Go Blue!" Have I mentioned that we also have Harbaugh? UW-Madison just has a badger. 'Nuff said.

2. UW-Madison doesn't have the largest living alumni body of any university in the worldwe do

The Leaders and Best are everywhere. You could yell “Go Blue!" in the middle of a forest and I can almost guarantee someone will chant it back. The Michigan name is well-respected, and Elisabeth is guaranteed a vast network in any given field because once a Wolverine, always a Wolverine.

3. Our State Street is better than UW-Madison's State Street

Watch the streetlamps and State Theater sign light up S. State as you visit the M-Den for all of your Michigan gear needs. And don't forget to dip into Piada, Sava's, or Totoro for some delicious eats. Ann Arbor wasn't rated the best college town in the U.S. for nothing (sorry, not sorry, UW-Madison).

4. Wanna talk views? Try the Arb

Nichols Arboretum isn't part of our campus tours, but in this hidden gem, you'll find all of nature's best right on campus. Walk through miles of beautiful woods and go tubing down the Huron River in the summer. Come winter, though, find us sledding down some hills on dining hall trays.

Or the Diag

What is Bascom Hill compared to our glorious Diag? The crisscrossing diagonal walkways that give it its memorable name are always bustling with activity, from student activist groups to performers to dogs! You can't forget the dogs. I've walked out of Hatcher many, many times blown away by the sheer beauty of this school and its amazing students. Elisabeth will, too.

5. UW-Madison traditions got nothin' on ours

Being a Wolverine is walking through the fountain in Ingall's Mall at orientation and then again in the opposite direction once you graduate. It's happily waking up at 7 AM to tailgate your way to the Big House. Being a Wolverine is screaming "Mr. Brightside" at the top of your lungs at every game and party. It's never stepping on the M in the Diag, even when it's completely covered in snow, and painting the Rock on Hill Street in the pitch black, freezing cold. Being a Wolverine is spinning the Cube on your first visit to campus. But most importantly, it's the irresistible urge to shout "HAIL!" and "GO BLUE!"

6. No one, literally no one, beats the Michigan icons

President Schlissel is our king, Reggie the Campus Corgi is our wholesome teddy bear, Harbaugh is the crowning jewel, Tom Brady is the GOAT, and Billy Magic? Well, you'll just have to come to Michigan to learn about the utter brilliance of Billy Magic.

The University of Michigan is one of the leading universities in the world. Our students fight for real change on campus and in the world. They are incredibly talented and multi-faceted; Elisabeth will always have something new to learn from everyone she meets. Our campus will give her all the tools to become the next best Carell.

Steve Carell, make the right choice and send Elisabeth to the only school that will make her a Leader and the Best.


The entire UMich student body (but especially your biggest fans, Jessica Jung and Riya Gupta)

Cover Image Credit: Instagram | uofmichigan

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