Provost and VP Academic Alan Shepard discussed a new program at Ryerson in collaboration with the Digital Media Zone. Photo: Mohamed Omar

New Digital Specialization Program announced at Rye

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By Sean Tepper

Associate News Editor

Provost and Vice President Academic Alan Shepard announced on Friday that the university will be offering a new Digital Specialization Program in collaboration with the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) as early as May 2012.

“This new program is going to formalize in an academic way opportunities that students can have in the DMZ.” Shepard said. ”What we’ve designed is a program for people who are at an early stage.

The program, pending senate approval, will be available to students in any faculty or program of study and will consist of two components: a Digital Specialization course, which will be offered in the fall/winter semesters, and an applied Digital Specialization semester that will be offered in the spring/summer semesters.

The Digital Specialization Course is a 12-week program that will aim to provide students with a number of different digital skills all the while introducing them to the cultural and business related issues that pertain to digital economy.

The applied Digital Specialization semester will begin with a one-week XTREME Boot Camp where students will attempt to develop innovative products and services. After that, the students will take part in a major team-based project that will span the remainder of the course.

“What this program is going to do is create a horizontal experience for students across the university,” said Shepard. “The digital economy is here to stay and it is not going away. It’s increasingly affecting everything.”

Heralded as the first of its kind in Canada, the new Digital Specialization Program will begin as a pilot project, with roughly 20-40 students taking part in its inaugural year. With that being said, Shepard made it a point to say that Ryerson will not be turning down any prospective students.

With the senate expected to make a decision on the program in early April, the university credits obtained from this course will not be put towards the student’s current degree. However, Shepard said that while the program will be offered outside their normal plan of study, he is hoping for other programs to accept it towards their degrees.

“If it’s the first program in Canada and they do it well then I think it will bring a lot of attention to Ryerson,” said Vincent Nguyen, a first-year engineering student.

Fellow engineering student Syeda Fayyaz thinks that the new program will beneficial for all students, especially for those in specialized programs.

“For engineers it’s very uncommon to have a business background,” she said. “I would take it because it would be a great asset….as well it’s very interesting.”

To apply for the program, students will be expected to submit a portfolio and resume in addition to taking part in an interview process.

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