Using New Tools in Digital Media

Teaching and Lifelong Learning

Powering Innovation

An exciting new undergraduate degree program at Texas State University is preparing mass communication students for careers in 21st-century media.

The digital media innovation and mass communication major immerses students in the breadth of digital knowledge to prepare them for new and emerging media roles. Due to the emergence of the internet, mobile technologies and social media, the digital media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years.

Flying drone with camera

The digital media innovation (DMI) program was started in the fall of 2016 to address the gap between student knowledge and the pace of change in the industry. The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism reports that the top skills sought by media employers according to a survey are coding and development, user experience analytics, visual storytelling and editing, and web and mobile digital design. Students in the DMI major are being trained to engage audiences, analyze data and propose new models for generating revenue. Majors are learning skills with drones, sensors, virtual reality, social media, coding and data analysis.

Phone with news article

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication gives students a chance for hands-on experience by participating in projects directly related to challenges in digital media. Most prominently, graduate students in the school have participated in the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival. The SXTXState Project is a spring semester course requiring students to familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of SXSW and current events in media, technology and politics as they relate to the festival. The students attend various panels and events and report their experience on social media and the team’s website at

“It’s a mindset of continuous learning.” 

In the interest of debriefing and internalizing the lessons learned after the festival, students assume the role of a SXSW panelist organizer as the final assignment of the semester, proposing a panel of speakers for a slot at next year’s event. Students in the program have gone on to work for digital media companies including The New York Times, HomeAway, Spedfast, Mosak Advertising and Insights, NPR and more.

Majors are learning skills with drones, sensors, virtual reality, social media, coding and data analysis.

Dr. Cindy Royal

According to Dr. Cindy Royal, founder of Texas State’s Media Innovation Lab (MILab), students are being given more than just a skill set to fill out their résumé. “It’s a mindset of continuous learning. We’re in a dynamic environment. The skills that students learn today form a foundation for adapting to and influencing change.” MILab acts as a focal point for the digital media innovation program, tracking changes in industry and academic practices and developing “new programs, collaborations, initiatives and technologies.” Undergraduate students in any of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s majors (journalism, electronic media, advertising and public relations) may take any of the digital media courses, and graduates may choose to add a digital media emphasis to their existing training.

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