Elizabeth Yokum, an instructor in Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a lead web presence analyst, works with digital science students in helping create a web layout.
Elizabeth Yokum, an instructor in Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a lead web presence analyst, works with digital science students in helping create a web layout.
Students in Kent State's School of Digital Sciences listen attentively during a classroom lecture.
Students in Kent State's School of Digital Sciences listen attentively during a classroom lecture.
Students in Kent State's School of Digital Sciences listen attentively during a classroom lecture.
Students in Kent State's School of Digital Sciences listen attentively during a classroom lecture.
Kent State students in a digital sciences/journalism collaborative class work on website design.
Kent State students in a digital sciences/journalism collaborative class work on website design.
  • Elizabeth Yokum, an instructor in Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a lead web presence analyst, works with digital science students in helping create a web layout.
  • Students in Kent State's School of Digital Sciences listen attentively during a classroom lecture.
  • Students in Kent State's School of Digital Sciences listen attentively during a classroom lecture.
  • Kent State students in a digital sciences/journalism collaborative class work on website design.
Megan Confer | 12/11/2012

In the fall of 2010, a team of people from five different Kent State University colleges sat down to design the digital sciences degree program. Launching a program in one year is uncommon, but when approvals for the proposed programs happened in the spring of 2011, Kent State’s School of Digital Sciences set a new bar.

Both an interdisciplinary school and an independent school, Kent State’s School of Digital Sciences offers unique program options.

Robert A. Walker
, director of the School of Digital Sciences at Kent State, said the idea is to expose students to a broad range of technologies often from multiple points of view.

“For example, students often come in from high school and say they want to do something with Web pages,” Walker said. “We have two courses; one course focuses on the content side of a Web page, taught for us by a professor from the journalism school. The other course is taught by the Department of Management and Information Systems — it’s a coding class. Both deal with Web development, but from different points of view.”

Creating an Interdisciplinary School

Walker said because the school is interdisciplinary, it doesn’t have permanent faculty but draws faculty from all the other colleges. Students will encounter faculty from all over campus including architecture, business, computer science, education, journalism and philosophy.

“The setup of this program is very beneficial because you encounter multiple things from different points of view,” Walker said.

Walker said as students go forward, they work with different types of people. They can see what fits them best and can specialize further in a specific area. The bachelor’s program offers six different concentrations.

Exceeding Enrollment Expectations

The new program is a learning process for all involved, and the growth has exceeded expectations.

“We’re all getting a better feel for all of the degrees and figuring out where to place students,” Walker said. “We’re all learning how to direct students down the path that best fits their needs.”

Last fall, the program had approximately 12 students. This year, the program has close to 100 students — roughly 70 undergraduates and 28 graduates.

“We’re entering our second year, and these are roughly the numbers we expected to have at the middle of our third year,” Walker noted. “We are growing much quicker than anticipated.”

Accommodating Growth

Walker said that to combat the rapid growth, the school is adding sections more rapidly and getting faculty involved more quickly.

“Of the admitted students universitywide, about one-third of students actually come to the Kent Campus,” Walker said. “But about one-half of our admitted students came here [to the School of Digital Sciences]. After all, there’s nothing like this anywhere else.”

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