The Bridge - Sawyer Products funds new Digital Proficiency Initiative

Three-pronged plan helps messiah students stay ahead of ever-changing tech world

In today’s digital age, employers in all fields seek tech-savvy candidates more than ever. To help faculty and students keep pace with the ever-evolving intricacies of technology, the College implemented the Sawyer Digital Proficiency Initiative (DPI).

The DPI aims to meet and exceed the goals laid out in the College’s Strategic Plan and the Information and Web Technologies Plan.

Sawyer products funds new digital proficiency story


“These plans include goals designed to cultivate appropriate teaching and learning outcomes that meet the needs of a changing student body and improve the digital proficiency of educators and students,” said Susan Shannon, director of learning technology services.

With funds generously provided by Sawyer Products, this three-year plan includes training 15 faculty members who will serve as fellows. Those fellows agree to be part of a one-week intensive session in June, where they will learn and practice a variety of digital skills.

“The fellows agree to integrate digital skills into a course module in the curriculum for a major,” said Vice President for Information Technology William Strausbaugh ’79.

Fellows will serve as part of a professional learning community during their fellowship year, sharing what they have learned with other faculty and presenting projects to the campus.

The DPI includes a provision to hire 12 scholar interns, who will work with the fellows on specific projects. A separate provision allows for up to 100 students annually to take a 12-week digital proficiency certificate course.

Once certified, students can then work in digital proficiency-designated spaces, such as the Digital Humanities Lab or in areas in the Murray Library and Learning Commons. For the initiative, Sawyer supplied the funds for 3D printers, Mac and Windows work stations, a Learning Glass Studio and many other unique tools. Gratefully, Messiah College plans to integrate these facilities and devices on campus.

“We are excited to see this program digitally unite students and teachers,” said Strausbaugh. “We’re placing these digital skills and tools in our students’ hands. We want our students to digitally follow Messiah’s Christ-centered mission. This is technology for what we’re called to do.”

--Emily Koontz ’20 and Anna Seip