As I complete my 3rd year as Director, we enter the 10th year of the program, and we leave our “startup” phase. As such, we need to provide a support structure as our curriculum matures, focusing primarily on (a) instruction; (b) aligning student interests with what we have to offer. Here’s the content of an e-mail that I sent to our MCDM community:
(1) A FUNDAMENTAL “WHY” TO THE MCDM [working premise]
(a) We work with a student body of professionals to develop sound strategies on how to communicate with influence and persuasion in this “noisy” digital age. [this is the program in a nutshell]
(b) We help them assess and measure what constitutes a successful communication endeavor [crucial in this new value-conscious age of “Return On Investment”]
(c) We provide the context and analytical skills to grasp the big picture of technology and communication, and provide strategic leadership within an organization based on these key insights [technologies come and go, but critical thinking and conceptual insight endure]
As another frame of reference for further discussion, MCDM student Madeline Moy suggested her own “logline” to me via Twitter:
The MCDM program equips business professionals with digital tools & strategies to effectively connect, persuade and inspire.
I like it, though I’d flip “strategies” and “tools” (we had an engaging conversation about this Sunday as well as I emphasized that the MCDM is primarily about communication strategy, but that we need to deploy appropriate tools to develop that strategy).
(2) ADMISSIONS: Cohort 10 (starting September 2010)
55 exceptional new students admitted, 70 denied (many of them strong applicants).
How long since got Bachelors:
0-2 years: 5
3-6 years: 17
7-10 years: 11
11-16 years: 10
17+ years: 12
Female: 38, Male: 17; 5 international students, 7 from a state other than Washington. Other birth countries (one from each): Spain, India, Brazil, Finland, China, Taiwan, Australia, United Kingdom, Syria.
(3) A FRESH START: As of July 1st:
– We will have two Associate Directors: Scott Macklin, Anita Verna Crofts who will oversee the day-to-day operations of the MCDM. We announced Anita last month as full-time MCDM faculty last month.
Anita will focus on curriculum and faculty development, student counseling/career coordination and fundraising. She will teach classes in leadership, non-profit communication and emerging markets technology.
Scott will lead our skills-based curriculum, education technology, community scholarship and events, prospective student outreach and fundraising for educational technology and scholarships.
– Communication Department Principal Lecturer Dr. Lisa Coutu (and one of the best educators at the UW) joins us as the MCDM Faculty advisor. She will provide teaching workshops and one-on-one faculty consultations so that we can create high quality, consistent learning experiences for our students.
– Our External Advisory Board has served us well during our first ten years, and we are grateful for the service of its members. As we enter into this new phase, with a new leadership, this is an opportune time to rethink how we wish to employ this Board, and how they embody the program’s objectives.
– We await approval of the MCDM Graduate Certificate Program, which will facilitate a small number of graduate students from other schools and departments at the UW to take a small selection of our courses. Upon approval, we will probably implement this program in September 2011. This is in response to ongoing student demand for our curriculum, and it helps integrate the MCDM into the state-funded/academic side of the UW.
– We will develop high-value research “white papers” and group independent studies through Media Space Research Coordinator Dr. Ken Rufo.
(4) ORIENTATION: – We recognize the need to provide stronger support to our students at the outset of their time in the program. As such, Anita, Scott and Kathy Gill will develop a new two-day Orientation sequence for Cohort 10, prior to the start of Fall Quarter. This will include foundational concepts, an introduction to curriculum, a required short “letter of intent,” and a required meeting with one MCDM administrator in fall quarter — which will comprise part of the participation grade in my and Dr. Malcolm Parks’ core Strategic Research class.
Orientation will also include a “Normalization” of digital skills (primarily web-based) through a workshop. We will require all incoming students to sign up for the Media Space, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and WordPress and will also survey their basic skills beforehand, pointing them to appropriate online learning resources (such as the new “UW Story,” developed by MCDM’er Harry Hayward, designed by MCDM’er Filiz Efe ). Kathy may work further with Harry to bolster UW Story with her Web Tools fundamentals.
(5) PATHWAYS: We will organize our electives curriculum into at three “pathways,” which highlight the emphases of the MCDM — tentatively content, business and an eye on what’s next. In doing so, we will provide clarity and consistency in curricular description and goals so that students can align course choices with their own objectives. This also includes laying out the full year curriculum at the outset of the year, and advising students throughout. We received excellent input this weekend on how we should proceed, and will incorporate it appropriately, sharing developments with you along the way.
(6) ALUMNI: We will focus on engaging alumni in the coming year, particularly through “Continuing Education” events and workshops. Your education only begins upon graduation! Our 10th year will serve as a launching point for this.
(7) EVENTS: We will follow up on the monumental success of TEDx Seattle with a major signature event in 2011. My intention is to deploy the community that we convened last month to build something as inspiring, multi-faceted and significant as Austin’s South by Southwest for our region. MCDM faculty member Kraig Baker and I are tentatively calling it “Four Peaks” — an annual “summit” that focuses on the values/attributes that we celebrate in our region: entrepreneurialism, story, technology, community (from Mount Baker, Rainier, St. Helens to Mount Hood — can you picture the logo?) and brings in leading players from across the country. We hope to engage as many of you in this endeavor as possible. Seattle as “storytelling capital?” — it’s possible! More on this soon.
I’m really proud of where we’ve arrived with this program. I’m even more excited about where we’re headed in the coming year or two with this superlative team and our shared vision. I remain exceptionally grateful that you are all part of this dynamic community, which is so willing to constantly invest ideas, passion and energy into the MCDM. You’re the reason for our success.