Colorado Students to Learn Digital From Alex Bogusky

Program Aims to Get Creatives, Businesspeople, Technologists Speaking the Same Language

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NEW YORK ( -- A new digital graduate program starting this fall at the University of Colorado at Boulder will give students a chance to have ad celeb Alex Bogusky as a teacher and get a taste of progressive interactive schooling imported from Sweden.

Alex Bogusky
Alex Bogusky
Boulder Digital Works, with Crispin Porter & Bogusky parent company MDC Partners as a founding partner, is gearing up for its first year of hybrid creative, technology and business graduate courses and 36-hour professional workshops, including a series from Hyper Island, a Swedish university focused on digital.

"It's an alternative," said Boulder Digital Works Executive Director David Slayden, who is also the chair of the university's advertising department. "Compared to other programs, this is also half the price at the most. And it's digital from the ground up. Digital hasn't been added to an existing program or curriculum."

BDW has developed a curriculum that aims to tackle standby advertising topics such as problem solving, storytelling and digital business, as well as programming, software development, mobile apps, social media and touch-screen interfaces. Students will focus in creative, business or technology but will be taught across disciplines.

The program is a joint effort between the university's School of Journalism and Mass Communication and College of Engineering and Applied Science, with input from Hyper Island and the Society of Digital Agencies.

"One of the problems the industry has is that the creatives can't talk to the businesspeople and the technologists," Mr. Slayden said. "Businesspeople don't know what a wireframe is. It's siloed. When we talk to industry people, they all start shaking their heads that, yes, this is a major problem. That's our goal: train people who are strong in one area and can converse in other areas so they can work better."

BDW will not only help each student build a portfolio -- the coursework is built around three team projects for industry partners -- it will expose students to a top-tier digital network. Faculty members include Mr. Bogusky, co-chairman of Crispin Porter & Bogusky; Hyper Island Directors Asa Silfverberg and Roger Sjogren; Threadless founder and Chief Security Officer Jake Nickell; Big Spaceship General Manager S. Jason Prohaska; and Modernista Interactive Creative Director Michael Tabtabai. The program's board is a who's who of digital advertising, with top creatives from AKQA; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; Media Arts Lab; and BBH Labs. It also includes Mari Kim Novak, Microsoft Advertising's senior director of global agencies, and Eugene Wei, VP-product at Hulu.

Working professionals will make up 90% of the faculty, Mr. Slayden said. They'll spend lots of time with small classes of about 18 students. "The industry people who work with the students will get to see them for 60 weeks before they have a chance to hire them," he said. "That's a good long look at people, so it's beneficial to industry people as well."

BDW is not just for agency types, he said, borrowing the term "T-shaped people" from Tim Brown, head of design consultancy Ideo, to describe the people BDW hopes to form: They will have a principal skill -- the vertical leg of the T -- but be able to branch out into other skills.

"We're not strictly for digital agencies," Mr. Slayden said. "We expect to have a few types of people -- people who want to go to AKQA and BBH Labs and people who want to start their own companies. We're going to have percentage of people who have an idea for a startup."

BDW workshops, including the Hyper Island short courses, will begin in September and run throughout the year. Applications are closed for the first 60-week term, which starts Oct. 5. Contact the school directly for details on the program's spring start.

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