They call themselves the four generations of Lethbridge College Multimedia Production. Each was once a student in the program and, proving that you can go home again, each has returned as an instructor, to help guide the next generation. Deb Hadley (’96) teaches in the Digital Communications and Media program as well as a Multimedia class. She is joined there by Mike McCready (’99), Tanya Weder (’03) and Chelsey Voeller (’11).
The instructors took their schooling at different times, but all agree that the program perfectly prepared them to enter a field that is constantly changing. Technology affects all facets of life, but in a program that depends on it, the change is even more pronounced. Tools used one year can quickly be outdated just a couple of years later. However, a shared commitment to learning, and their similar starts at the college, keep this team tightly-knit as Multimedia Production prepares for its next 20 years.
The group took time to talk to Wider Horizons about their experiences.
WIDER HORIZONS: Going back to your days as students, why did you want to get involved in Multimedia Production?
CHELSEY VOELLER: I went to university for a bit first and I was jumping around program to program and changing my majors. I’d always liked computers and I made a lot of videos, so when I saw this, I jumped on it.
DEB HADLEY: I had done a couple of degrees before here and I always loved the technology side of everything that I did. I saw an ad for this program and I said ‘oh, that looks awesome!’ And it was, so I applied. I was part of the very first class.
WH: How did you end up coming back to the program as instructors?
MIKE MCCREADY: I’m like the prodigal son. I left and worked for quite a few years. Then I came back here and I worked in the Advancement office, then I left again, and finally I came back to teach. I love Lethbridge and the college so much that I kept coming back. But I think I’m here to stay.
CV: In my childhood, I always wanted to teach my younger brothers and they wouldn’t listen to me.
DH: Now you have students who won’t listen to you!
CV: They listen a lot better than my younger brothers did! (laughs) But when I think about growing up, I was always trying to teach people. So coming here and teaching was right where I needed to be.
WH: This program is so dependent on technology, how do you even begin to explain the changes you’ve seen over 20 years?
TANYA WEDER: Before I started the program in 2001, I personally didn’t even have an email account. How crazy it that? It wasn’t that common of a thing yet, really. Now I have five different accounts for different types of projects to keep myself organized.
DH: It’s just mind-boggling. I mean, our hard drives were like 80 gigabytes or something and we were like, ‘that’s crazy, we’re never going to use that.’ And now, we’re up to terabytes of storage. The best part of this program is that technology always changes.
MM: When I was first in the program, I was researching Flash because it was a new thing. And now, I’ve seen the rise and fall of Flash over my career. It’s pretty much dead now. So, it’s the ability to adapt and keep learning that keeps it interesting.
WH: How important is collaboration in your team?
DH: What’s really cool is that everybody has their interests. Mike is really into Virtual Reality, so we can participate in the cool stuff that he is doing. My role in multimedia is writing, so we try to collaborate on the writing side, so that students can do writing for my portion for web pages that they’re creating in Chelsey or Tanya’s classes. So, it’s really neat.
MM: I’ll come to Chelsey and bounce something of her, an animation idea or a way to teach a concept, and quite often she’ll give me a better idea or help me massage an idea, so it’s worked really well. And Tanya and I team-teach a couple courses together. She has a very strong academic background, going through the Bachelor’s program. And I have a nice industry background where I’ve worked in multiple organizations, so I can bring that. So I think students get a really nice combination where we’re able to share.
TW: We all graduated this one program, but bring vastly different skills to the table when teaching our students how to be members of this ever-changing community. We compliment and support each other nicely, which make going to work every day a complete joy.
WH: Does your experience as graduates of this program give you a unique advantage when teaching?
CV: I think it creates connections with our students and graduates. I’m still talking to graduates from last year, and they’re freelancing and doing other things, but they still come for advice.
TW: I think one of the advantages is that we know what the student experience in this particular course is like. We know that there is a heavy workload with high turnovers because that is what it is like in industry, so we know how to give them the skills to handle that.
MM: As an alum, I have a very deep connection to the Multimedia program. It gave me a really great and long career in the industry and I want to give back to the program. We want to see not just the students succeed, but the program succeed because we have an affinity to the program.