The Annenberg Digital Lounge offers a collaborative, digital space for all students at USC beyond the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The lounge aims to provide students with the opportunity to learn professional programs in order to embrace technology in an environment that encourages experimentation. Different courses and workshops are offered at the lounge, and its first workshop, “Creative Resume Techniques with Adobe InDesign,” will be held on Wednesday.
As more employers begin seeking out students with digital skills, creative media manager Erika Hang encourages students to utilize the lounge that was created through the digital literacy initiative implemented by former Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III.
“Our team and our space was born out of the idea of giving Annenberg students digital skills,” Hang said. “Our main goal is being able to offer workshops and software support for a lot of the tools that the students are using.”
The lounge tries to improve itself each semester, collecting feedback from students to see what skills and workshops would pique their interest.
“Starting last semester, we’ve been offering more data analytical stuff,” Hang said.
This fall, the Digital Lounge has included data analytics in their new line-up of programming that includes classes on creative media and personal branding.
“We’re trying to always stay up on what’s new, what students want to learn and what’s current,” Hang said. “There’s just so many avenues to get digital skills here and if you can’t take a 10-week course, you can always take a workshop. [We’re] just trying to foster that creativity.”
The lounge still maintains its 10-week Adobe certification courses, although they are only offered to Annenberg students or students taking an Annenberg course. But the year-round workshops non-Annenberg students can attend also offer useful skills that are transferable to future job opportunities, according to Hang.
“We’re trying to support anything that students are using in the classroom or students would find valuable when they go out to look for a job,” Hang said. “A lot more jobs out there are looking for students with digital skills or it’s a bonus if you know Photoshop, or a bonus if you know coding.”
Workshops teach students techniques in topics such as creating better motion graphics, building brands, retouching photos and starting impactful podcasts.
Many of the courses are held in the Instructional Media Lab and taught by instructors like Rick Miller, a former Adobe senior solutions engineer for education who is teaching this semester’s Adobe Premiere, InDesign and Photoshop courses.
“Having an Adobe Associates Certification sets [students] apart from other people who are vying for the same job,” Miller said. “Having this skillset is going to help them immensely because they can take this creative media and work with it in a way that is easy to be consumed at the endpoint.”
The Digital Lounge also offers services through its Help Desk, run by students who are experienced with the different programs.
“All of the Digital Lounge employees have different specializations in these programs so students can come here for any kind of help they need on assignments,” said Michelle Whang, a media support specialist and junior communications student. “The lounge is a safe environment for students to come in and work on their creative endeavor. It’s a creative makerspace here.”
The “Bring Your Own Device” policy implemented at Annenberg in 2014 aimed to encourage digital literacy by allowing students to use technology in the classroom. Similarly, the courses and workshops held at the Digital Lounge encourage this type of customization in students’ workspaces to foster creativity and learning.
“Creativity is the cornerstone behind the idea of the Digital Lounge,” Whang said. “It’s not like a traditional classroom setting, but what the students make of it.”