ACC, Face­book team up on dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing pro­gram

ACC says part­ner­ship will help stu­dents build skills that jobs re­quire.

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Ralph K.M. Hau­r­witz rhau­r­witz@statesman.com

Austin Com­mu­nity Col­lege and Face­book Inc. are part­ner­ing to de­velop a cer­tifi­cate pro­gram in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing.

A vi­tal goal of the pro­gram is to help peo­ple in small busi­nesses and job seek­ers gain skills that are in­creas­ingly im­por­tant as more and more com­merce and com­mu­ni­ca­tion shift to on­line plat­forms. A for­mal an­nounce­ment of the part­ner­ship is sched­uled for Mon­day morn­ing at Fair Mar­ket, an event venue on East Fifth Street.

“The need for dig­i­tal skill sets is prob­a­bly more im­por­tant to­day in mar­ket­ing and dig­i­tal me­dia strate­gies than ever be­fore,” said Richard Rhodes, ACC’s pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer. He added that the use of Face­book, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram and other so­cial me­dia plat­forms can ben­e­fit not only small busi­nesses but re­tail­ers of many va­ri­eties, po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns and even ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions like the col­lege it­self.

Face­book is play­ing a “some­what phil­an­thropic” role in the project, Rhodes said. “They’re not charg­ing us to de­velop the cur­ricu­lum. Cer­tainly it’s go­ing to be ben­e­fi­cial to them or any­body else who uses dig­i­tal me­dia skills.”

ACC al­ready has a part­ner­ship with Ap­ple Inc. for teach­ing Swift, an Ap­ple-de­vel­oped pro­gram­ming lan­guage for apps.

Ana Martinez, Face­book’s Austin-based head of public pol­icy and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment for the South­west re­gion, said the so­cial me­dia com­pany pledged ear­lier this year to train 1 mil­lion small busi­ness peo­ple and job seek­ers by 2020. Be­sides ACC, Face­book has formed part­ner-

ships with nine other com­mu­nity col­leges across the na­tion and plans to form 10 more by the end of the year. The pro­grams are tai­lored to each col­lege.

In ad­di­tion, the com­pany has rolled out other train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing a part­ner­ship with the Na­tional Ur­ban League to of­fer train­ing to small busi­nesses twice a year in Hous­ton, New Or­leans and 11 other cities.

Many de­tails re­main to be worked out, but Rhodes said he hopes ACC can be­gin of­fer­ing a class in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing in the spring se­mes­ter next year. It would ini­tially be part of the col­lege’s con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram and there­fore would not earn par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dents col­lege credit. He hopes to of­fer it for credit as early as fall 2019.

The pro­gram more than likely will in­volve a hy­brid model, with stu­dents learn­ing on­line as well as in class, Rhodes said. He said the course prob­a­bly will be of­fered ini­tially at the High­land cam­pus, which has a mas­sive space with hun­dreds of com­puter work sta­tions.

The Round Rock and San Gabriel cam­puses, with sim­i­lar spa­ces, also could host the course, as could the Rio Grande cam­pus when its ren­o­va­tion is com­pleted, he said.

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