The UNE Academy of Digital Sciences is perfect for you if you’re a young professional who feels unchallenged in your current job; or a new immigrant who has managed IT projects in the past, but needs to brush up on project communication skills and new digital competencies; or a liberal arts college student for whom a professional certificate of completion would be the perfect complement to an academic degree.
The first step is to connect with a UNE Academy Advisor — via email, online, or phone — for an enrollment process that is designed to be quick and easy. The Advisor can answer your questions about the Academy and assesses your interests, talents and experience to match you with courses that build upon your professional competencies and digital skills. The Advisor will guide you through registration and a seamless transition onto the UNE Academy online learning platform.
If you’re new to the field, you may be guided to our introductory Digital Sciences Essentials course, which provides a good overview of our four main career focus areas. Once you complete the Essentials course, you can dive deeper in one of the four Fundamentals courses. Those with professional technology experience may be given an opportunity to “test out” of the Essentials course and enroll directly in one of the four Fundamentals courses.
Courses are offered in self-paced eight-week sessions available throughout the year — including summer — and completed on a flexible schedule in months, not years. You can start with the introductory “Essentials” course if you are new to the profession, or go deeper with one of the four “Fundamentals” courses, if you already have professional experience.
Each course consists of the following key elements:
- Relevant, up-to-date online learning modules curated from leading instructors at world-class universities and delivered via the rapidly evolving Coursera platform. Modules are self-paced and can be completed to fit your own schedule: days, nights, or weekends.
- Real-world projects developed with leading Maine employers and designed to help you apply new knowledge.
- Professional mentoring through online forums and during regular “office hours” at live UNE Academy Learning Hub meetings in Portland, either in person or through remote conferencing. Learning Hub meetings will be archived for convenience.
- Advising is provided from initial contact through post-course events, such as employer meet-ups and next-step course enrollment.
- A digital portfolio in which learners capture their learning process and project work, and which provides insights beyond a cover letter and resume.
The Academy is a “stepping stone” to career entry or advancement that provide you with career preparation that matches your interests and experience.
The introductory “Digital Sciences Essentials” course is intended to help people with little prior knowledge or experience to explore their passions and find out if they are interested in the digital professions:
Learners discover the career groups that match their interests and then enroll in a second eight-week course that offers a deeper dive into one of the four “Fundamentals” areas:
- Development and Programming
- Interaction and Interface
- Analysis and Data
- Project Management
Some learners will complete all four fundamentals courses, thus gaining the broadest base of knowledge and experience on which to establish their career. Those with prior experience in the digital professions can “test out” of the introductory “Essentials” course and move right into a “Fundamentals” course that will help them prepare for the next stage of their career.
Every UNE Academy course includes a project-based learning experience to help learners apply new content knowledge to projects that reflect the cyclical, agile development process found in many work environments: identifying client needs, proposing solutions, prototyping demos and iterative testing. Learners will capture those project-based experiences in digital portfolios that demonstrate competencies for future employers.
Professional mentors are the heart of the UNE Academy. We recruit mentors from among the most accomplished professionals in Maine’s business community, ensuring that course work and project work undertaken by learners reflects the current best-practices of the business world. At the same, time, Academy mentors are among the most generous and intuitive of their colleagues, adept at teaching and building rapport—they are the stars who want to “pay forward” their own success by guiding and supporting learners in all aspects of their Academy experience.
Mentors interact with learners via an online discussion forum and participate in “office hours” at the Academy’s Learning Hub on the UNE Portland campus, as well as other locations based on need. Learners who are able travel to the Learning Hub will meet with other learners and mentors at regular times. Those who are unable to attend in person can participate live via telepresence or watch archived Learning Hub events.
The ultimate goal is to connect with employers.
After completing a curated selection of individual and group learning experiences built around employer-defined competencies, you will receive a certificate of course completion and be invited to meet with employers at UNE Academy Roundtables — including the same employers who defined the competencies outcomes for Academy courses.
Maine employers have reported that meeting qualified candidates in person is among the best ways to find great employees. Academy Roundtables will provide opportunities for you to present your work and for employers and professionals to share their own pathways to professional success.