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UMaine program advances in prestigious competition

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Innovative Communication Design to present in San Francisco
ORONO - The newly developed Innovative Communication Design program at the University of Maine has been selected as a Stage Two winner in the fourth Digital Media and Learning Competition, an annual program designed to help mobilize emerging leaders, educators and innovators to create technologies that might change the way we learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life.

Since 2008, the program has awarded $6 million to 72 innovative digital media and learning projects, both in the United States and abroad.

The UMaine ICD proposal, led by John Bell and Rick Corey, is built around an innovative way to supplement the graduate certificates awarded to students who complete the ICD curriculum. The group has developed a series of “badges” that will provide a quick and easy way for prospective employers to see what specific skills were learned through ICD.

“The ICD certificate is meant to help students who have graduated with the knowledge needed for their field at the time but who now want to better communicate with the rest of the world,” said Bell. “In the last 20 years we've added a huge array of digital, social and mobile platforms to existing print, radio and video media, and understanding the entire array of options is important to effectively getting messages out to the world.

“I think the thing that is really attracting me to teaching in the program is that we're setting up methods that aren't just a standard online class where you watch a few videos, take a multiple choice test, and call it a day,” Bell continued. “We want to make an online environment where students talk to each other as much as they listen to teachers. Our students are learning how to get a message across, and they start with assignments aimed at each other so they can get hard feedback on what they do well and what they need to work on.”

“The ICD program was constructed to assist professionals in improving their public perception and give them knowledge in areas they may need help in,” Corey said. “Whether you teach, run a small business or just want to gain more awareness of yourself or your product, we offer the solutions people need.

“Our classes range from Social Networking Education to Advanced Video Production; we gear these classes specifically toward professional individuals who want to learn more.”

That wide array of offerings is a boon, for sure, but it also presents potential obstacles. Essentially, the fluid nature of ICD means that two students with the same certificate may have learned very different skills. Through this innovation, students can use the badges as an endorsement of particular and specific skills endorsed by the University of Maine. It’s a clever and creative way to help clarify the product of such a wide-ranging and variable program.

The win in Stage Two Design follows the team’s Stage One win in the Program Content category. Though the two stages are independent and the competition is designed to mix and match design and content teams, the two separate wins demonstrate a principle reflected in the ICD program itself: Conceptual and technical strengths go hand in hand and reinforce one another.

Bell and Corey will be flying out to San Francisco next week to compete in the finals giving a presentation on the ICD program and their badges system to a panel of three judges. If the proposal is selected as a final winner, they can receive up to $200,000 to implement the system in the ICD Program.

For more information about the Innovative Communication Design Certificate program, visit www.umaine.edu/icd. For more information about the Digital Media and Learning Competition and ICD’s winning design, visit dmlcompetition.net.

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