Web and multimedia is the newest major in media arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). Originating in the graphic design department under the title of interactive major, the program was moved to media arts in 2006 and renamed web and multimedia (WMM for short).
“MCAD stands apart for the interdisciplinary curricular approach taken in all of the college’s programs,” says Rob Davis, director of communications at MCAD. “Since MCAD is a smaller institution, it has been and continues to be an environment where we re-think and create new opportunities for interdisciplinary studies.”
As part of a school-wide curricular review, the WMM program was overhauled in 2007 to include new core curriculum courses, workshops, experimental studios and community collaborations.
“The beauty of our programs in WMM is that there is no ‘typical’ student experience or outcome. Our students can easily flow between and within any definition of a design studio,” Davis says. “Our curriculum is fluid enough to provide strong core skills with intellectual engagement and curiosity without letting the technology be the primary discussion. Our students are encouraged to ideate, research, experiment and embrace failure as a positive.”
With a history dating back 125 years of teaching fine arts, MCAD also boasts an enrollment of about 700 students. While MCAD’s roots may be old-school, the curriculum is anything but by the book. “The specifics of the WMM program evolve continually, reflecting the changes in technology, as well as social and cultural context surrounding the media practice,” Davis says.
The web and multimedia environments program is rooted in the “Core Four”—fundamental courses structured to enrich each student’s professional development over four years. The four focus areas within the program underscore the broad reach of the curriculum:
- Web and Screen: focuses on the screen-based platforms, especially web and interaction design
- Games and Virtual Environments: offers immersion in non-physical spaces and experiences
- Installation and Performance: focuses on multimedia experimentation and interaction with physical spaces
- Database and Computational Design: gives students working in all areas of the program a strong programming background
After completing the core curriculum, students continue studies through an interdisciplinary senior project, professional practice and advanced web and multimedia seminar courses. Internships are required of all graduates.
Read more on curriculum and view a suggested course map here.
Piotr Szyhalski is a world-renowned interactive designer whose exhibitions include the Walker Art Center, the New School and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Dave Novak has worked in computer-generated animation for more than 20 years and worked on The Incredible Crash Dummies, the first all-CGI TV program.
Mike Jakab is a user experience designer at Motorola. Kyle Philips is the director of creative development at KVS, an interaction design studio specializing in the organization of complex information. Aydin Mohseni is an information architect currently with the Peace Corps in Morocco as a youth development volunteer. Greg Schomburg is a lead developer at Brand New School. Aaron Draplin is a graduate of MCAD who’ll be speaking at HOW Design Live in June.
Schooled is a series of profiles of accredited higher-education programs for interactive design. See our full list of interaction design programs here.