Wednesday, September 13, 2006

AET Career Certificates Have Mysteriously Vanished

Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET) has a history of not coming through on its vocational occupational certificates, alternatively known as "career certificates." First it was the theme park management, then the project management, and the game development program. Certificates get renamed, reshuffled, or on "pending" status. Let's see what's new for Fall 2006.

Here's a screenshot of the
Entertainment Technology course offerings at SMC for Fall 2006:

SMC AET Entertainment Courses for Fall 2006

Notice how SMC is misrepresenting that AET "offers career certificates in Animation, Game Development, Post Production, Visual Effects and Web Design." AET doesn't even say these certificates are "pending." Rather, they allegedly falsely advertise that they are offered, period. This misinformation is posted on SMC's official website in the hopes of luring students to enroll in these courses that are supposed to lead to these certificates.

Now, let's jump over to AET's official website. On or about June 19, 2006, AET yet again revised and redesigned its website. It's that new and improved thing that is really a repackaging of the old and unreliable. Before the last revision, earlier this year, AET stated on its "certificates" webpage that it had four certificates pending approval: Game Development, Post Production, Visual Effect, and Web Design. It gave detailed descriptions of each. Only one certificate was stated as actually existing: Animation. Now, all of these "pending" certificates have mysteriously vanished. Here's a screenshot of AET's webpage for
Entertainment Technology (ET):

SMC AET Entertainment Technology Webpage

Now, as the above screenshot reveals, SMC's AET program only offers "courses," not "career certificates" in "Game Development, Post Production, and Visual Effects." Web Design didn't make it to the downgraded "course" status. Hmmm.... So, why does SMC continue to tell students in its Entertainment Technology course listings for Fall 2006 that these career certificates are available? Sounds like a bit of false and deceptive advertising to me.

Notice in this screenshot that there's a link to the
ET Program Guide for Summer/Fall 2006, available as an Adobe PDF document. Let's take a peek inside. Go to the section entitled "Career Certificate Information" and you will see the following:

The Entertainment Technology program currently offers a Career Certificate in Animation. This certificate requires that students first complete the required coursework for the Digital Foundation Certificate of Completion as listed above.

There is a single sentence that reads as follows:

Additional certificates in Game Development, Post-Production and Visual Effects are under development.

So, it is confirmed that the Animation Career Certificate Track is the only currently approved program offered at AET. What happened to Interactive Media? Five years to get it approved and then AET simply cancels it from its curriculum? That seems like a huge waste of time, resources, and money. What about Web Design, another stable at AET? Not a word mentioned anywhere on their website or 2006 Program Guide, despite being listed on the SMC ET course webpage for Fall 2006.

What about these career certificates that have been "pending approval" since last year and have now been reclassified as "under development." Let's go to one of my favorite online resources, the California Community College's Chancellor's Office webpage of
Inventory of Approved and Projected Programs Sorted by Colleges. Scroll down to Santa Monica City College and view its approved and pending programs. It is fairly accurate, having been revised since Sept. 12, 2006.

Here's what you'll find there. In 2002, SMC received approval for three certificates: Interactive Media Level 1, Interactive Media Level 2, and Computer Animation & Visual Effects. What's up for pending approval? In 2006, only Nutrition and Wellness. What about in 2007? We have the following: Environmental and Urban Studies, Real Estate, Entertainment Industry Business, Web Programmer, and Ethnic Studies. Note that the Web Programmer is under Computer Programming, not Multimedia, which would have fallen into Entertainment Technology's domain.

Let's compare screenshots from earlier this year to yesterday's listings under the CCCCO's Program Inventory. Here's the relevant excerpt from January 4, 2006:

CCCCO Program Inventory for Santa Monica College January 2006
CCCCO Program Inventory for Santa Monica College January 2006 AET

And here's the screenshots from the relevant excerpt for September 12, 2006:

CCCCO Program Inventory for Santa Monica College September 2006
CCCCO Program Inventory for Santa Monica College September 2006 AET

Notice that Website Software Specialist was listed as pending approval in 2007 under Website Design and Development. Now, it has been approved in 2006, but under Software Applications. This leads me to believe that the SMC main campus scooped this up in the computer science department rather than granting it to the AET program. Although a "certificate and degree" were slated, it seems that it is only approved now as a degree. So much for web design at AET.

Also, as previously mentioned, it took SMC from 1997 (when the AET program started) until 2002 to get Interactive Media approved and now they've simply cast the baby out with the bathwater. And, what about that Women's Studies program approved in 2005, a mere two years ago, and now SMC no longer allegedly has either a Women's College or Women's Center?

As to Entertainment Industry Business, there is a projected certificate and degree under "Other Business and Management." It appears on its face that this will fall into the business school at SMC and not AET's Entertainment Technology program. Previously, AET has had entertainment business certificates that never really flew off the ground. I only know of one student who has admitted to actually finishing this type of program at AET. Nowhere is there any mention of a pending "Game Development" certificate or "Post Production" certificate. So, what does "under development" truly mean? That a bunch of people at AET will sit around in committee meetings, racking up our tax dollars, shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, and trying to get something approved, or, alternatively, it is just another educational carrot dangled on the stick to lure prospective and gullible students into the AET program? I will leave that for you to decide.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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