The picture of what jobs in 2025 will look like may not yet be in focus, but Molloy College and the Baldwin school district are betting that certain core skills — exposure to today’s advanced workplace technologies and immersion in a collaborative, project-oriented approach — will be the underpinnings of many of them.
The organizations have entered into a joint venture they’re calling a “collaboratory,” which includes the launch of a New Media Career Academy, featuring elective classes and activities, at Baldwin High School in the fall, district and college officials said.
Baldwin faculty will be developing courses, based on Molloy classes in digital and new media, that would count as college credit if high school students go on to matriculate at the Rockville Centre-based college.
Also, teachers in areas such as English, technology, modern languages and math have started discussing how digital elements could be incorporated into existing curricula, as well as developing innovative new courses. All this is with training and coaching from experts, including Molloy faculty, said Shari Camhi, superintendent for Baldwin Union Free School District.
A second major element is planned, with Molloy putting $1.35 million toward renovating about 10,000 square feet on the second floor of Baldwin’s Shubert Elementary School — closed in 2012 — to feature open workspaces that will allow for enhanced teamwork, Molloy officials said. A $300,000 grant from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council is also earmarked for that work.
In this space both high school and college students will be able to take digital classes, some commingled; collaborate on social enterprise projects and even intern with startup businesses and nonprofits that are expected eventually to be housed under the same roof.
With some activities expected to commence there in the coming school year, a potential unveiling of the renovated space could take place in the fall of 2017, depending on state approval of the plans, Camhi said.
The partnership aims to help young people become “facile and entrepreneurial” in an ever-changing digital world, with an eye to working together on projects and businesses “of value to the community and society,” said Drew Bogner, Molloy’s president. It’s about allowing for a “seamless” progression from high school to college to career, he said.
An aim for students, too, involves “rooting them” during high school years with a cool work/learning space and opportunities, so they’re less inclined to seek them later off Long Island, Camhi said. She, Bogner and others have been visiting hip, startup spaces in Manhattan, scouting for design and work styles to emulate, with an eye to Baldwin being viewed ultimately as “a trendy place for young people,” she said.
App design, coding, database use, video production and virtual reality are among the skills students might develop, but the program is planned to be fluid, allowing for fast adaptation to changing technologies, said Jamie Cohen, instructor and director of Molloy’s New Media program. He and his colleague Matt Applegate have already conducted a training session for 15 Baldwin teachers and administrators, and the two are doing further coaching now and through the school year.
Also to be emphasized, he said, is digital media literacy, which involves students learning to think critically and assess the veracity of information found online, helping them to “become savvy users of the web.” That also involves learning best practices for expressing their own voices and personal brands, digital representations made by users “to further their professional lives.” Regardless of the field of work, he said, “without a good, clear voice or brand . . . you’re limited.”
Leonardo Rivera, who teaches Spanish and Italian at the high school, says he sees the academy as “a bridge between actual instruction and real-world experience.” One idea he’s proposing involves a semester for students in their junior or senior years to work on their language translation skills, followed by another semester in which they apply them. That could be in expanding accessibility of, say, hyperlocal apps by translating them for Spanish speakers. It also could involve dubbing or creating subtitles for videos produced in the school’s new state-of-the-art television studio, which is seen as a foundation for the new career academy.
In the spring, eighth-graders will be getting details and the chance to sign up for the new four-year academy, a Baldwin spokeswoman said, one of five the school will be offering. In addition to their regular classes, students can opt in to an academy’s electives, go on shadow day visits and participate in related internships and extracurricular activities. Among the others are those focused on medical and health science and global business, with all designed to give students a taste of the world of work.
The hope for the fledgling new media academy is for 20 to 25 students to sign up the first year, Camhi said, but if there’s a swarm, more could be accommodated. Such interest would be “the greatest problem” to have, she said.
Apart from the building renovation and updates that are already covered, other expenses might include professional development for teachers and writing new curriculum, with no school funds, as there are “zero extra dollars in the budget,” Camhi said.
Because the partnership is one that can be easily adopted by others, Bogner said, “we will be talking to different technology companies about this highly fundable and replicable model.”