Programs You Should Know: Interactive Digital Studies

In an increasingly digital world, employees equipped with digital skills are needed more than ever before. The University of Northern Iowa's new Interactive Digital Studies major (IDS) serves to fill that need, and it does so in a groundbreaking way.

Interactive Digital Studies
The Interactive Digital Studies program is about creatively addressing the future. It's become a central meeting place for enabling collaboration among the digitally oriented classes and professors at UNI.

The IDS major is interdisciplinary and stretches across virtually all areas of study on campus. With its innovative set-up, students are able to take this one major and tailor it to their specific interests and strengths. Students within the major are required to take three core classes: Interactive Digital Communication, Mass Communication and Society and Technology and Human Communication. From there, major students are able to choose two concentrations, or "bundles," which are composed of about five classes and aimed at a concentrated aspect of digital technology.

For instance, students focused on education can take the digital learning bundle, which focuses on using technology in order to enhance the learning process, whereas students interested in music can take the digital music bundle, which relates music theory and composition to new digital music technologies. Students can also pair digital technologies to concentrations as widespread as sociology, graphics, advertising, social change and computer coding.

"We really only created one new class for the major," said Bettina Fabos, professor of communication studies. "We brought together all these fantastic people from all across the university. We're the only university close to doing something this ambitious."

With such a wide range of applications, career opportunities related to this major are virtually endless. According to Fabos, many of the careers IDS students will find haven't yet been invented.

"I'm taking Interactive Digital Communication and Technology and Human Communication this semester and I'm learning so much, not only about technology itself and how to use it, but also about how technology has impacted our society," said Steven Sanchez, a senior majoring in communication. "Because of these classes, I'll be able to go into the work force with both an understanding of how to use these technologies and a greater appreciation for them."

Matt Wilson, marketing professor, said, "We're trying to create digital citizens who will meet tomorrow's challenges fully armed with the digital skills needed to effectively address them. Many of us passively consume digital media. That's now what our program is about. We want our students to proactively innovate, create, plan and produce digital experiences."