Unique Ryerson Digital Specialization Program Provides Career-Essential Skills


Next year, third-year Ryerson University student Pamela Livingstone will graduate from the Ted Rogers School of Management with a Bachelor of Commerce in Global Management, ready to take on the world of international business.

The key to being successful in her chosen career path, she says, is having the skills required to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the global business world – both online and off.

That’s why she enrolled in a new course called Digital Skills and Innovation for the Global Economy (EID 100/CEID 100) last fall after reading about it on Ryerson’s Facebook page.

“As a Global Management major, I am learning how to work with many different cultures and people all over the world,” she says. “I felt the class would give me insight on how to effectively communicate globally, and to have a good footing in what is to come in the world of social media and communication.”

Interestingly enough, the class isn’t even part of Pamela’s program: EID 100 is a degree-credit elective course which can be taken on its own by Ryerson students, students from other Canadian universities and continuing education students at Ryerson’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, both on-campus in Toronto and online each semester, or as part of the university’s unique Digital Specialization Program (DSP).

The second half of the Digital Specialization Program, Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation (EID 500), is an intensive, full-time 12-week summer semester in which students work in teams to design, develop, and implement a digital media product, solution or concept. As the course title suggests, the second half of the program is an amazing opportunity for future digital entrepreneurs.

Students are embedded in Ryerson’s internationally-renowned Digital Media Zone (DMZ) and work alongside a number of experienced mentors from the digital realm, including Gerri Sinclair, Patrick Pennefather, Steve Tissenbaum, and Ladies Learning Code and HackerYou founder Heather Payne.

Students who take both DSP courses earn the Specialization in Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation credential from Ryerson – an impressive addition to any student or recent grad’s resume.

Thriving in a digital knowledge economy

Instructor has a “PhD in Google”

EID 100 instructor Jaigris Hodson’s students often say she has a PhD in Google.

While that’s not exactly true, it’s not too far off: in the joint Communication and Culture program at York and Ryerson universities, her doctoral research focuses on a critical discourse analysis of the Google and Facebook corporate blogs.

EID 100 instructor Jaigris Hodson
EID 100 instructor Jaigris Hodson

Previously, her MA research studied Facebook, Cute Overload and Boingboing.net, and she has also worked as a social media consultant for a number of years. Learn more about Jaigris on the DSP website.

Beyond Facebook and Twitter

Jaigris emphasizes that although most students today have grown up using various digital and social media, it doesn’t mean they’re prepared to make the most of those tools for their careers.

“Most of us know how to use Facebook to stay in contact with our friends or Twitter to tweet about things we find interesting, but we don’t know how to best use those in a professional context to get ahead,” she says.

“I’m trying to give students a broad perspective of digital literacy skills that they need to know to not only survive in this digital knowledge economy, but thrive and distinguish themselves from their peers.”

Each week, Jaigris introduces her students to new digital concepts, such as personal branding, accessibility, collaboration, research, privacy and security, information overload management and more.

A screenshot of sample online course content for CEID 100
A screenshot of sample online course content for CEID 100

“The main thing that I want the students to learn is how to find the information they’re looking for even as that changes,” she says. “Whatever the next big thing is, they’ll be able to feel confident and comfortable using that and working with other people in that environment because we know it’s going to change – that’s the only constant.”

Teaching students how to DIY digital

Pamela says Jaigris helped her realize she could do anything with the right foundation of skills. She also walked away from EID 100 with a digital portfolio of work, including a 30-second public service announcement on cyber bullying and a web application.

“The major bonus to this class is the amount of hands-on learning you are doing,” Pamela says. “You are not just reading a book or seeing presentations on how applications are made or how a PSA is built, but you are creating them yourself and getting that valuable experience.”

What she found most valuable about the course, however, was the portion on online personal branding: “Jaigris really opened my eyes to the number of people on the Internet who are able to see my account and the information I post, including companies,” she says. “This knowledge really made me strive to present myself on my social media profiles in a way that I want to be known for.”

See what Jaigris and her students are tweeting about via the #EID100 Twitter hashtag:

Bolster your digital skills at Ryerson

How to apply and enrol

No matter what you’re studying or which career path you hope to pursue, digital literacy skills will come in handy as you start to hatch your career. That’s why Ryerson has opened enrolment for both DSP courses to:

  • Current Ryerson undergraduate students from all disciplines and programs who have completed their first year of studies
  • Undergraduate and graduate students from other universities in all disciplines and programs who have completed their first year of studies
  • Continuing education students who have attended university

Application requirements vary depending on which of the above categories you fall into, and whether you’re taking the online or on-campus version of EID 100.

Generally, though, current Ryerson students can enrol via RAMSS (Ryerson’s Administrative Management Self Service) and continuing education students can enrol through The Chang School. Students from other universities will have to get a letter of permission from their home institution’s registrar’s office before they can enrol.

This summer is the perfect time to enrol in the program because, for the first time ever, you can take both DSP courses concurrently and complete your Specialization in Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation in one just term. Plus, the projects required in EID 100 will directly benefit your work in the DMZ for EID 500.

Ryerson UniversityEnrolment for the Spring/Summer 2013 sections of EID 100 and EID 500 has begun, and classes start in May. Learn more about Ryerson’s Digital Specialization Program and how to register here.

About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.