Photo and Article by Noah Moore
The Digital Communication and New Media minor, introduced this semester, has quickly become the third largest minor at KU, with an enrollment total of 117 students for the upcoming spring semester, according to the most recent numbers from the Office of Institutional Research as of Nov. 23rd.
The minor is comprised of a few new courses and a large sampling of courses from the electronic media, English, professional writing, and communication departments.
The rapid rise in enrollment in the minor can be attributed to the promotion of it, support from administration, and students’ own interests and awareness of what is needed in today’s job market, according to Keith Massie, an assistant professor of communication studies who is the advisor for the minor and one of the people who helped create it.
“The millennial generation are digital natives,” Massie said. “These things interest and resonate with them, so they want to learn more about it.”
Moe Folk, an associate professor in the English department who also helped create the minor, agreed.
“Students have an intuitive sense of what is important in the real world,” he said.
Part of the reason for that promotion is that the minor overlaps with the professional writing minor and the public relations minor. Students can accomplish all three within a four-year time with careful planning and relative ease, which Massie said can be very valuable when applying for jobs.
This unique construction occurred in part because it was the only way to set up the minor.
“We saw that there’s a need for students to get more practice with digital writing and digital communications in general,” Folk said in regards to alumni feedback. There wasn’t a good place to house interdisciplinary plans, he said, so they created the minor so that “students in a variety of majors could pick up these digital and analytical skills.”
According to Massie, students in the minor come from 11 different majors across three colleges: English, writing, communications, sports management, business, communication design, marketing, electronic media, music, and art education.
“It’s innovative,” Massie said. “You will find very few majors and minors doing these things. We’re trying to beat the rush to this idea.” Massie described how the job openings in these fields are being taken up by generic skillsets, but that the minor can help students build these cross-curriculum skills to beat out other job-seekers.
“There’s a sense of innovation and relevance to it,” Massie said.
Trevor Arnold, a junior in the communication studies major who is also pursuing public relations, professional writing, and DCNM minors, affirmed this.
“I decided to add the minor because I thought it would be a great compliment to the curriculum in my major and minors in preparing me for life after KU in the public relations field,” Arnold said.
Looking to the future, Massie and Folk both said they are planning new courses and analyzing the feedback they are getting from students.
“We’re on the precipice of some great things,” Massie said.