Local non-profits have the help of students to build their websites or database systems, as a result of an existing class that is being added to the Digital Arts and Cultures Certificate program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The School of Information Studies Bachelor of Science of Information Sciences and Technology (SOIS BSIST) Committee met on Nov. 3 and voted to add the non-profit IT class to their offerings in the Digital Arts and Cultures (DAC) Certificate. The class already exists, but it would now also be part of DAC.
“We get teams of students to work with nonprofits in Milwaukee to build a website, or build a database system, or some technology need that nonprofits don’t have money to hire staff for, so our students do it as a project,” said SOIS Associate Professor Dr. Michael Zimmer.
The committee also voiced support for adding more core classes to summer offerings to help non-traditional students.
SOIS offers many courses within the DAC certificate, a certificate that offers students skills in creating and critically analyzing digital art and media. One of these courses is IFOST 430, a course in multimedia application development. The committee voted on replacing INFOST430 with INFOST495 – Nonprofit IT, a class that would act as an internship-like experience for students. They will be replacing INFOST430, because it hasn’t been offered in a while and is a bit dated compared to Nonprofit IT, which is an innovative hands-on experience.
While the committee approved to replace INFOST430 with INFOST495, the decision still needs to be approved by the faculty and DAC advisors. Changes could be installed as soon as the Spring 2018 or Fall 2018 semesters.
Another change the committee approved would be the addition to many of the Information Sciences and Technology (IST) department’s core classes to the summer term. These core classes are required and include INFOST 110, 210, 230, 240, 310, 340, 410, 440 and 490.
“There is a value in that; plus, with the demand we have, we should at least offer all the core courses,” said Assistant Professor Dr. Shana Ponelis.
Zimmer and other committee member also voiced their desire to add most if not all the core classes to the summer term, since SOIS enrollment opens in the summer. However, one concern voiced was that offering these classes in the summer could “cannibalize” or take students away from these courses in the fall or spring semesters. The committee disagrees with this statement.
“If you’re admitting in the summer then you need to offer the beginning core in the summer for the BSIST program,” said Interim Associate Dean and Associate Professor Dr. Laretta Henderson. “Their concern was cannibalizing from the core in the fall and the spring, but my observations of the trend is that we’re not really cannibalizing.”
The committee also brought up that the IST program houses many non-traditional students that could benefit from courses being offered in the summer.
“We have a lot of non-traditional students who frequently try to finish the degree quickly and only need to take a smaller number of credits, because we accept a lot of transfer credits,” said Zimmer. “So, we’ve tended to offer a lot of classes in the summer, because our student population tends to take more summer classes than perhaps a traditional student, who goes home for the summer and relaxes.”
Zimmer says that though the university showed concern with the expenses of offering more classes in summer, the department is confident in the demand for the courses. If changes were to be approved, the department would not be adding too many more classes during the summer, but would mainly be focusing its summer courses on the these core classes.
Currently, there are nine core classes in the degree, but not all of these classes would be added to the summer term.
“There are certain core classes that are prerequisites to do other things, so we are going to try to offer those in the summer, so students can maintain their progress and make sure they can get into the classes they need in the fall,” said Zimmer. “That will be our recommendations to the administration, and we think they will agree.”