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What actually goes on at Boulder Digital Works?

17th December 09

Boulder Digital Works at the University of Colorado (BDWCU) is a cutting edge new school designed to create ‘the leaders of the future’ in the design, tech and creative industries. Sounds great, but what do the first intake of students really think about it, so far? And what are the ‘works’ that actually go on there?

Some background first.

There are already a number of (very cool) dedicated digital programs in the US but they tend to focus on individual specialties, such as advertising, business, design, or technology. The starting point for BDWCU was how things actually work in practice, once the student leaves school. It’s a whole lot messier than a school syllabus, that’s for sure. At advertising and digital agencies, start-ups, and software companies, business, creative, and technology people work in much more of an integrated and fluid setting and are expected to be multi-disciplinary thinkers and problem solvers. So BDWCU sets out to be a more broad-based educational program that covers the full spectrum of digital disciplines and media.

The program is impressive – take a look here. (I only wish I could attend.)

I was honored to be asked to sit on the Board of Directors and have got to know the program and the set-up a little. What I think is the coolest thing about the school is that the program they offer is live, so is constantly changing to reflect what matters today and tomorrow (not what mattered yesterday) and is led by leading practitioners in key industries such as advertising, design, interactive, and innovation, as well as entrepreneurs and academics. The team led by David Slayden, Michael Lightner and Allison Kent-Smith have done an awesome job of gathering some exceptional faculty to bring genuinely leading edge content and insight to students.

So, yes, as I said before, it all sounds great, but what’s it really like? What do the students think? And how are they finding it?

The initial intake of 12 twelve trailblazers in the first Boulder Digital Works 60 Weeks Program finish their adventure in December 2010. To mark the one year pre-anniversary they have created the 12/10 Project. This short film takes stock of what they’ve learned so far, considers their hopes and plans for the upcoming year and sees them explore their dreams, goals youjizz and predictions more broadly. It is essential viewing for anyone in a creative business who has an eye on the talent pool of the future. It’s people just like these guys whom we will all by vying to hire.

It’s striking that for many the reasons they went to the school in the first place are not always the reasons they’re staying.

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(It’s available in HD on YouTube).

Follow the 12/10 Project as it unfolds over the next 12 months. You never know, you might spot a rising star in the making.

The 12/10 blog is here.

If you’re interested, here’s a little more about BDWCU.

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