Education - Page 7 - Universities team up with working professionals

- Page 7
Universities team up with working professionals
Improving skill sets leads to new opportunities

By Gregory J. Alexander, Contributing Writer

One of the keys to success in any career is to continually sharpen current skills, while also learning new techniques and expanding your knowledge base. With this in mind, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland offers a graduate certificate of professional studies in multimedia journalism, a 12-credit program for professional communicators with an emphasis on digital storytelling across media platforms. Students receive training in areas such as video, audio, social media, photography and interactive web publishing, while also staying abreast in the latest in software and technology.

Chris Harvey, a full-time faculty member, director of assessments and director of the weekend certificate program for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, says the program attracts students from a variety of backgrounds. “We’ve had mid-career reporters – in both print and broadcast – who wanted to increase their multimedia skills, marketing and communications professionals, career changers who want to be more digitally savvy and a retired professor who wanted to do consulting work,” says Harvey. If students decide to pursue a master’s degree, nine of the 12 credits could be utilized.

In the interactive design and development course, students learn basic and intermediate coding skills, while the introduction to multimedia skills for graduate certificate programs explores how to shoot and edit videos, audio and photos. In the mobile journalism course, Harvey says that students collect, edit, produce and share news while in the field and strictly on smartphones and other mobile devices.

Lastly, the media entrepreneurship course challenges students to develop and pitch ideas for media businesses. “It’s like a mini ‘Shark Tank’ where students must create a business plan that includes revenue sources and do a presentation in PowerPoint that includes video and audio – skills they gained in the other classes in the certificate program,” Harvey says.

For those working professionals looking to jump start an existing career or switch careers, Towson University’s Center for Continuing Education and Professional Studies offers programs in business management, information technology, health and medical administration, and digital marketing.

Vicki Simek, associate director of continuing education at Towson University, says the most popular course is the project management professional one, which prepares students to take the certification exam. “Project management cuts across all industries and professions. With that in mind, the course focuses on multiple industries, and students quickly realize that the project management skills learned apply to any industry. Team skills are emphasized, as a project manager is ineffective if he or she cannot lead a team,” Simek says.

“The project management professional certification is very important and can lead to a significant increase in pay.”Also under the business management umbrella is the human resources course, which Simek says is also popular.

Information technology courses include ones focused on cybersecurity, web development and database management. Cybersecurity continues to be one of the fastest growing careers in the United States.

“There is also a huge demand for medical coders in Maryland, so our course is perfect for career changers and those who are perhaps working at the front desk of a doctor’s office and want to learn new skills that can lead to a great career,” Simek says. “You can also start your own business in medical coding, and we have a lot of single moms come to Towson for this course so that they can work from home.”

Simek says that her department is continuously reviewing labor reports and projections to see what areas Towson should add more continuing and professional studies courses. “We are looking at supply chain management, as there is a projected big growth in that industry.We are also looking to add more advanced courses in cybersecurity for those professionals looking for more experience in the field,” she says.

Working in partnership with teachers, parents and students, the new Sherman Center for Early Learning in Urban Communities – courtesy of a $6 million gift from the George and Betsy Sherman Family Foundation – at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) takes a multifaceted approach to impact early learning in urban centers like Baltimore City. The center will utilize applied research, teacher professional development and partnerships with schools, families and communities. Partner schools are located in South Baltimore and serve racially and ethnically diverse students.

The center’s first research project is called Read Two Impress: A Method for Building Literacy Proficiency and Family Engagement in an Urban School and trains parents and pre-service teachers to implement strategies used with struggling readers in grades two and three.

Another initiative, the Diverse Books Project, aims to “ensure that early childhood educators at our partner schools have access to high quality diverse children’s books, and opportunities to share ideas and insights about their use,” according to the Sherman Center. Mavis Sanders, Ph.D., professor of education and director of the Center for Early Learning in Urban Communities, says that participating teachers received a five-book set, and during each subsequent grading period, teachers can request six copies of one book title.“We then want to bring the teachers back next spring so that they can share how they utilized the books in their teaching,” Sanders says.

“Research shows that young students benefit from rich storytelling that reflects their own experiences, as well as the experiences of other worlds and cultures,” Sanders says. She references the research of Rudine Bishop, who concluded that diverse children’s literature plays an important role as“mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors.”

“Students also write by reading books by great writers. We can promote writing at an early age by showing students how other writers begin a story, for example,” Sanders says. “We are trying to create a learning community of faculty, staff and researchers at UMBC, along with teachers in the partner schools, and break down the barriers between K-12 education and higher education. In the end, we are all educators.” •

Program attracts different backgrounds

By design, the multimedia journalism graduate certificate program at the University of Maryland (UMD) attracts professionals from varied backgrounds.

“My roots are in print journalism, but I know the profession has changed and multimedia has been ingrained into everything we do,” says Elaine Povich, staff writer at Stateline, who completed the certificate program and is now enrolling in the masters program at UMD. “I wanted to improve my comfort level working on a variety of platforms. The program also made me appreciate how the different mediums complement each other.”

Povich says that one of the skills she gained includes how the building blocks of website development can help attract and retain readers, and she enjoyed gaining different perspectives on multimedia, thanks to the diverse student body.

Marianne Worley, director of media relations at MedStar Georgetown University, says she was able to immediately apply what she learned at her job. “Learning coding helped me communicate with tech individuals at work, I now take better photos in the operating room, and my social media posts are more effective with more engagement,” Worley says. She adds that she has also been able to make press releases more engaging online by making them multi-media press releases and to make sure they read well on mobile.

Elena Macias says that taking the graduate certificate led to her new job as a student assistant at the Hornbake Library at UMD, and she will pursue her master’s degree in journalism this fall. “It opened doors for me, and I now I use my skills in social media, website design and television production at work,” says Macias. “The mobile journalism class was frustrating at first, but it was so exciting to take photos and video, write blog posts and share on social media – all from my smartphone.” •

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Above left: Books from the Diverse Books Collection with several attendees in the background at the Diverse Books Project Kick-off, which was held at the Lakeland Community and STEAM Center.