Sacramento State will offer new technology minor

Erika Bradley

The new digital communication and information minor has been designed at Sacramento State to benefit students in all disciplines by teaching the Information and Communications Technologies Literacy for Higher Education.

The minor was created to teach digital communication skills and help advance students in the age of technology to prepare them for the future workforce.

“Any student who completes this minor is going to be really empowered individually and as a member of a really interconnected society and world [with the current and future technologies to come,” said Director of the Student Technology Center Maureen McQuestion.

There are six courses within the minor designed to teach students skills such as how to manage and search for information, edit media with a variety of software, integrate digital media into presentations to inform or persuade an audience and communicate in virtual environments.

Communication studies professor Diego Bonilla helped develop the minor and stressed the importance of knowing how to search the internet for information.

“Searching is not just typing words into a field, now it has evolved to be a skill and the better you are at it, the faster you find the material that you want in this vast ocean of information that we have now,” Bonilla said.

All of the courses examine how technology and media relate to and affect interpersonal, intrapersonal groups, organizational and social communication.

Dennis Dahlquist, a professor of engineering, said engineering and communications are interrelated and influence one another.

“I see [the minor] as an exciting type of thing to have an option for students to gain some experience with communications,” Dahlquist said. “You can have a really great idea and a great solution, but it’s something that if someone’s not really able to get that across or communicate that, it makes it very difficult.”

During 2008-09, Bonilla worked with Educational Testing Services, or ETS,  to create an information critical thinking skills exam, which started the generation of ideas for a technology minor at Sac State.

ETS is the company that administers the SAT, GMAT, and GRE exams to students all over the world.

“During those work sessions for the iSkills exam, I remember asking who was teaching the information and communications technologies that we were constructing the test for, and there were no clear answers,” Bonilla said.

The iSkills exam is an assessment through the ETS and according to its website, measures a person’s ability to critically think while in a digital environment.

In 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order to teach digital and communication skills for the advancement of a competitive global information and knowledge economy, which recognized the importance of Information and Communications Technologies Literacy for Higher Education.

“I started realizing that United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization had established guidelines for all countries in the world for the exact same knowledge [of digital and communication literacy] and then it became fairly evident in [that] moment we should do something here [at Sac State],” Bonilla said.

Overall, the minor examines production, research and theory standpoints. The digital media creation course will teach students how to edit images, audio, video and 3D models using open source and specialized software.

McQuestion said the Student Technology Center provides tutoring and help with software programs that students need for any class, not just those in the minor.

Both McQuestion and Dahlquist said students may not realize  there is more they can learn about the programs they use, such as PowerPoint, to expand knowledge of digital media.

This semester is the first time the minor has been offered and Bonilla said he hopes for more students to become aware that there is a minor which focuses on technology.