Gavilan College adds digital media degree

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Gavilan College made itself a more viable option for students
looking to cross the digital divide and find employment in the
high-tech field.
Gavilan College made itself a more viable option for students looking to cross the digital divide and find employment in the high-tech field.

Trustees approved a Digital Media program that will give Gavilan students the opportunity to obtain a degree in the field as well as acquire transferable course credit toward degrees at four-year schools.

The board approval puts an imprimatur on a young program that previously offered certificates of achievement only, lagging behind several Silicon Valley and Bay Area schools which have offered full two-year degrees for nearly a decade.

“I think it’s really unique how it blends together the various disciplines,” commented Interim President Martin Johnson. “It’s a program that emphasizes not only the art side, but the technical side. It blends those two.”

Courses under the program include Web design, digital photography, electronic music, journalism and business fundamentals.

Gavilan College has been offering its students Digital Media courses since last year. Instructor Robert Beebe said several students are expected to graduate with certificates of achievement next semester. Certificates of achievement require 18 units of course work and prepare students for careers in graphics production, Web page production or print production.

The state still needs to sign off on the decision. It is expected to take action in January.

Once it does, digital media students can pursue certificates of completion – more comprehensive 28 to 37 unit programs – and associate’s degrees, which require 60 or more units to be satisfied.

Beebe said the goal of the program is to graduate as many students as any other Gavilan program each year.

“Every school I’ve talked to has done very well in digital media,” Beebe told trustees.

Beebe was the founding instructor of a similar program at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz County in 1992. He has been an employee of Gavilan since April 2001.

Beebe also noted that Gilroy High School has added digital media courses to its curriculum.

“So we have a nice transition path from high school to the college and beyond,” Beebe said.

Title 5 Grant funds have been earmarked to bolster the Digital Media program. Title 5 monies are awarded to schools that serve a certain percentage of Hispanic students.

Beebe said certain English as a Second Language (ESL) classes will benefit directly from the expanded program.

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