Community College Faculty Profile: Teaching with Digital Media a Unifying Thread to Brandon Berman’s Career
I meet with faculty, students, and graduates quite a bit, and I like to share their stories. This is an occasional series.
The arc of Brandon Berman’s career contains a unifying thread—teaching. He has always taught. Today, it is his focus. He teaches in and leads the digital media and graphic design degree program at the Front Range Community College campus in Westminster.
Brandon practices what he teaches. As the faculty Commencement speaker at the Westminster Campus Commencement in 2008, Brandon told the graduates to “find and do what you love. … This is not a linear process. Look for clues along the way.”
Brandon loves to teach digital media technology. Let’s look for the clues.
Multimedia was an early passion.
The passion for multimedia started early. Brandon recalls using two VCRs to edit movies with his brother in the early 1980s. That was prehistoric digital media time, you might say.
He also experimented with a basic computer program on his Atari to make some simple animations. Brandon took his first graphic design course during his undergraduate days and recalls working with the earliest Macintosh graphic design drawing programs.
Psychology, social work, software development—and teaching.
With an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in clinical psychology, Brandon entered the social work field. For three years he was a member of the sexual abuse response team for Boulder County Social Services.
As you can imagine, working with sexual abuse victims is draining. So he used his background in technology to become a trainer (teaching) and Webmaster for the Colorado Department of Human Services. This work involved developing a new software for case management for Human Services. His online tutorial (teaching) for the software won a Best of Show from the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society for Technical Communications and Distinguished, International Competition of the Society for Technical Communication.
Remember, this isn’t linear.
“I needed a transition out of psychology,” Brandon says. “And I wanted to retire from social work. The revelation was when I incorporated technology into my work. I decided I needed more education.”
Brandon’s digital media degree.
So Brandon went to Red Rocks Community College and earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Multimedia Graphic Design and a certificate in Multimedia Technology Graphics and Animation.
As he was studying, he also was working. He was a Webmaster for Lucent Technologies and its spinoff, Avaya, in Westminster.
His own digital media business.
He had a successful digital media business for five years. All the while, he also taught digital media at Front Range, Red Rocks, the University of Colorado, and Colorado Free University.
Teaching digital media at Front Range.
Then an opportunity came up to teach full time and build the digital media program at Front Range. At last, full focus in the classroom.
“I love the classroom,” Brandon says. “Teaching is about relationships. That’s a critical piece. I love the sparks that happen in the classroom when someone is interested or the class takes on a life of its own. I hope I have a little part in inspiring them.”
His passion for the classroom was recognized in 2006-2007 when Brandon was honored as Master Teacher and in 2008 when he was honored as Front Range’s Faculty of the Year.
“Brandon has the energy and skill to marry artistic ability with technical knowledge,” one of his nominators for the award wrote. “In addition to being an excellent teacher, Brandon pushes his program in new and innovative directions. He has been the catalyst of iTunes U, an initiative that keeps FRCC on the cutting edge.”
Bringing technology to classrooms in Kenya.
Brandon and a team from Colorado went to Kenya in summer 2011 to introduce video technology into classrooms in Meru.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” Brandon says. “We built communities with teachers and good friendships. There was a huge amount of sharing about technology in education. And we got to work with their students.”
Of course, the team digitally documented their adventure. Brandon will present “Experiential Learning via Video Production: Flip Cameras in Kenya” in February at the Colorado Associations for Career and Technical Administrators conference and at the Colorado Creative Careers Festival.
Now the arc of Brandon’s teaching career spans classrooms from Colorado to Kenya.