COTC Digital Media Design Students Develop Real-World Career Skills

NEWARK, Ohio, May 30, 2019 – Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) digital media design (DMD) technology students in the spring semester Web Design and Development III class were a bit surprised by the idea that they would be designing and implementing a project management system for staff at COTC and The Ohio State University at Newark to use.

DMD student Alex Trujillo said, "When Dr. Jarc presented the project, I was very excited. The opportunity to create something for real-world application from the classroom was the highlight of my academic year!"

ImageThe innovative partnership initiated by Kris Read, web and digital media manager for The Ohio State University's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and COTC alumnus, helped eight DMD students get valuable, hands-on experience working with a client, conducting research, using industry-standard hardware and software to test their web development skills as they customized a web-based application for a project management system.

"We needed a system like this in our office, and I thought it would great to utilize the talented students we have on campus. It was a win-win situation for our team and the students," Read said.

Trujillo added, "It gave me the opportunity to learn how to work in a large group on a large-scale project which is a very important skill for DMD students."

Read and James Jarc, Ed.D., assistant professor of digital media design, collaborated to integrate this project into the existing DMD coursework, while adding some learning challenges for the students such as a "design sprint," a technique used by developers for organizations like Google, Slack, Uber and many others. Students met frequently with COTC and Ohio State Newark staff to understand their needs and presented different portions of their work throughout the term. 

"Working on the project presented a different type of environment to me. We were in class, yet it was like we were an actual web team creating this project for a client," said Faith Saxton, spring 2019 DMD graduate. "Doing a 'design sprint,' learning how companies have successfully executed one and how I can personally use them will help me in my career as a design professional."

Sixteen weeks later, they had completed their task, and on April 11, the students presented their project to a group of faculty, staff and administration. The resulting software application will be used by OCIO staff to manage projects.

"Many of our students have never encountered this level of work before, but it was amazing to see how they rose to the challenge," said Jarc. "They demonstrated incredible creativity, collaboration, technical growth and professionalism."

COTC offers an Associate of Applied Science in Digital Media Design Technology with two options for specialization, graphic design or web design – some choose to learn both. The program's curriculum is a broad and intensive exploration of the process and the business of digital design. Students study the principles of design, color theory, social media and typography. Students take courses in specific digital software tools. Skills taught include critical thinking, design approaches, the underlying theories of digital media, and a variety of digital media production techniques.

To learn more about COTC's digital media design technology program, visit

Photo caption: left to right: James Jarc, Ed.D.; Alex Trujillo; Vladimir Plantin; Erik Conner; COTC President John M. Berry, Ph.D.; Leslie Najjar; David Nielsen; Ben Zimomra; Faith Saxton; Jen Nixon; Harley Downour; and COTC Vice President for Academic Affairs Lauri White, Ed.D.

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.