Holly Ludgate is the Program Director of Education Media Design & Technology for Full Sail University and a member of the Higher Education Management Group (Linked In). I posed three questions to Holly about this program, as well the role of design and high production value in online higher education.

Background: Full Sail University (Orlando, Florida) is a media arts college that was founded in 1979. It provides Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in variety of entertainment and media related fields, including Computer Animation, Digital Arts & Design, Education Media Design & Technology, Entertainment and Music Business, Film, Game Art, Game Development, Game Design, Graphic Design, Internet Marketing, Media Design, Recording Arts, Show Production & Touring, and Web Design & Development.

KCH: There are very few programs available that combine education and design. What is the objective of the “Education Media Design and Technology” program?screenshot_061

HL: This program, in essence, is giving educators (at any level) a “virtual sandbox” to explore new types of media and design principles and learn the most effective way to integrate these into their work environments. This program gives educators (at any level) the tools to explore how to use and integrate media and design principles into the learning environment. In essence, preparing the educator for the 21st century learner.

KCH: What types of roles are graduates occupying?

HL: We have graduates that have stayed in their classrooms- stretching in new ways of media integration as well as graduates who have moved on to e-learning, corporate training, higher education and instructional design. 

KCH: Classroom education is (largely) an interpersonal form of communication. Online education is a screen-based form of communication. And consequently, the quality of web-based educational experiences is much more dependent on the quality of graphic design in the course. Despite this fact, online education providers – particularly higher education – have thus far paid remarkably little attention to the role of graphic design as a means of increasing the value and impact of online learning. How does Full Sail University – an institution that teaches graphic design – utilize design to improve the quality of their online programs?

HL: Absolutely. One of the most important elements in our online delivery is to make the curriculum of highest quality in regards to the production value as well as educational value. Each online faculty member works with an online production team to develop high impact media content to support the curriculum for their course. These high quality pieces of media, along with an in-house built Learning Management System, makes for a user-friendly and unparalleled experience for the students. Recently on those media pieces was recognized with a national Telly award in the category of Education.

KCH: Many of the programs that Full Sail offers focus on subjects that critics of online education have argued cannot be taught well online. First, I’d be interested in knowing if the students themselves have these concerns? Second, can you give us a sense of how you teach these traditionally ‘hands-on’ programs in the online format?

HL: We do have students that are concerned with the level of “connectedness” they will feel online- but immediately realize how connected they are when going through their first course. We give the students the tools to work in groups, collaborate with interactive tools, meet synchronously to discuss ideas and course concepts – as well as being a project based learning- driven program. This is achieved by providing every student with an Apple MacBook Pro as part of their education, and the use of our proprietary Learning Management System. Giving the students the same playing field technically when they all begin eliminates the hardware and software issues that tend to slow students down when in online programs. I like to call this online program a “virtual sandbox” for students to explore and create in. In addition, the project-based learning nature of our online programs really demystifies the notion that online education is not hands-on education. We have examples in which our online courses are more hands-on that their campus counter part.

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