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UNI makes advances in the world of digital education

August 13, 2013

Bettina Fabos, associate professor, communication studies, 319-273-5972,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The world isn't just moving into digital dominance, it's sprinting there, and it's the responsibility of educators to keep up. Today, Facebook reports 1.15 billion users; more than 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube monthly; and Twitter claims 500 million registered users. The University of Northern Iowa recognized this growing digital world and created a new program, Interactive Digital Studies (IDS).

Within six months of the program's launch last year, the number of majors offered doubled. IDS now has 29 majors and 19 minors. Bettina Fabos, associate professor of communication studies, said this will likely double again.

Although housed in the Department of Communication Studies, the program is designed to be versatile, with a focus on interdisciplinary study. The majors allow students to mix and match different "bundles" -- made up of five classes in a certain area of digital interest -- to create a personalized major. Bundles currently include digital advertising, music, computation, media and social change, imaging, writing, learning, and visualization. For the IDS major, a student takes three foundation classes in digital communication, picks two bundles and caps their study with a practicum that brings IDS majors together across disciplines to build a final digital project as a class.

The IDS minor, which requires one bundle, pairs a digital skill dimension to any major currently offered. For example, a history major adding an IDS minor will become adept at digital archiving. "Any UNI student involved in IDS is instantly better positioned for a future career in the digital world," Fabos said. "We are offering this perfect fusion of liberal arts and marketability."

Recognizing UNI's and the Cedar Falls business community's push into the digital frontier, Brand Driven Digital, a social media and digital marketing company based in Iowa City, announced that UNI will be added to its Social Strategy Boot Camp tour. The workshop will help marketers in the Cedar Valley develop comprehensive and actionable social media strategies. The Cedar Falls Social Strategy Boot Camp will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 22, at the Innovative Teaching and Technology Center (ITTC) on the UNI campus. Registration will be open until the day of the workshop, with a registration fee of $115.

For more information or to register for the Social Strategy Boot Camp, visit For more information about IDS, visit