CMC starts new-media program | AspenTimes.com

CMC starts new-media program

Walter Isaacson makes a point about the future of media as Jim Calaway and Charlie Firestone listen. Isaacson was keynote speaker at a day of presentations and discussion panels to dedicate the launch of Colorado Mountain College's Isaacson School for New Media. Credit and noncredit courses in the new program start this fall. Photo Ed Kosmicki

ASPEN – Steve Kaufman summed up the future of the Isaacson School for New Media in “new media” terms: “We want it to become CMC’s killer app.”

Kaufman, who is executive director of the Calaway Opportunity Project, made his remark during a panel discussion Wednesday about the promise and future vision of the I-School, Colorado Mountain College’s newest initiative.

“As a community college, we try to keep our ear to the ground, to follow trends. … The New Media school is an excellent example of this,” CMC professor Rick Jones said in introducing the panel, which included faculty, community partners, valley youth and Walter Isaacson, the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, who gave his name to the school. “Now we want to stay nimble. We want to stay responsive so that we are constantly looking forward.”

In fact, the New Media school is in many ways a work in progress, with three established areas of emphasis: digital journalism, digital media production and digital marketing and design.

Now, however, the school must set a course for the next five years. On Wednesday, it was clear that whatever course is set, it will not necessarily be straightforward.

“I think the five-year vision is a curriculum that grows to be as cutting-edge as it can be,” said Jones, who serves as instructional chairman for CMC’s career and technical education program.

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It was a sentiment echoed by the panelists – Isaacson said the concept could “flip (traditional education) on its head if it’s done right” – and by the audience.

One woman noted, “I think (the school) will learn as much from the students as the students will learn from the school.”

Already teaching those assembled a lesson in what “new media” are all about were two Roaring Fork Valley high school student panelists as well as a handful of young audience members who spoke out on the subject.

“Technology is art. It’s a different kind of art,” said Kira Willis, who will be a sophomore this fall at Glenwood Springs High School. “There’s all this talk of traditional arts being lost with all this technology coming in. But when you bring technology and arts together, you get really cool things.

“The possibilities are endless.”

For now, the Isaacson School for New Media is a community-college-based program. But work with local middle and high schools has been part of “the vision from the beginning,” Jones said, and he fully anticipates a collaborative effort as the school becomes more established.

“We’ve heard a lot of wisdom today, most from the kids,” he said. “So we know they have ideas, and there are people at CMC with ideas, so we need to listen, and we need to get these groups together.”

Isaacson agreed.

“An essential trait of the digital age is collaboration … learning to work together,” he said. “Not all learning is just for the utility of it. Some is simply for the joy and beauty of learning and collaborating.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com