New technology and digital media like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter are changing the way people communicate both at home and in the workplace. They’re also contributing to a generation gap. For example, users under age 30 are significantly more likely to use social-networking sites when compared to other adult age groups, according to research from the Pew Internet Project.
“For older adults, this means there’s a great opportunity to learn more about using new digital technology and social media to advance their careers, change careers or simply stay connected with people and information that’s important to them,” says Don French, owner of graphic design firm French & Associates and program director of graphic design at Brooks Institute, a leading provider of higher education for film, graphic design, visual journalism and photography. “It’s important to continue seeking knowledge about the latest trends, tools and technology, and there are easy ways to get started without feeling overwhelmed with all the changes.”
To take advantage of career opportunities, for example, French notes that graphic design professionals must learn and stay ahead of trends in multimedia – which is the art of integrating multiple forms of communication, including images, text, audio, interactive content, animation and video.
No matter your professional or personal goals, French offers three tips for better understanding and applying the latest digital media, multimedia and technology tools:
1. Experiment with multimedia. Many people feel that the best way to master a new skill is through experience. With cost-effective digital cameras and built-in cameras on smartphones, it’s easier to start exploring the world of photography, including uploading, sharing and editing your images. Many of these same devices also have video capabilities, allowing you to give video shooting and editing a try. In doing so, you will not only develop new skills, but may also find a new hobby in photography or film. If you’re looking for a place to share your new skills, consider starting a blog to showcase your work and act as an online portfolio. While no one can be an expert in every aspect of multimedia, you can discover areas you enjoy.
2. Embrace social media. Whether you’re a digital native who was born with a cellphone in hand or a digital novice trying to figure out when Myspace stopped being cool, social media is revolutionizing how we communicate and get information. If you’re just dipping your toes into the social media world, online resources like PCMag’s Social Media 101 can teach you the basics of online interaction. You don’t have to tweet hourly updates, but developing and maintaining a presence on the most popular social media sites will not only help you communicate on a personal level, but also give you an advantage in job hunting by making you more visible online.
3. Keep learning. It seems like we hear about a new technology or social media site every day. Since it’s nearly impossible to stay abreast of every trend, identify a few ways to stay connected. For example, find several publications or blogs to follow that provide relevant information to help you learn about new tools for both personal and professional use. Don’t forget the importance of face-to-face interaction as you’re networking and learning online. You can seek a mentor or colleague who understands the ins and outs of multimedia and is willing to share advice, or even a friend or family member who is more comfortable with new digital trends. Many colleges, like Brooks Institute, have workshops and continuing education classes on relevant topics for those looking to further their skills.