At times the process of learning new media skills can be daunting, difficult and downright frustrating.
As someone who spent time working in the music industry, Robert Kissner said he remembers the struggle to learn the skills necessary to succeed. That struggle is part of what inspired the Scarsdale native to start Digital Arts Experience, a new educational service specializing in media production and digital arts, located in White Plains.
His programs specializes in work with teens, but also offers small business owners and recent retirees a variety of ways to hone their skills in new media. Specialized classes offer everything from the opportunity to create video and audio samples for college applications to handling home photos and computer skills.
The idea for Digital Arts Experience, Kissner said, came up during conversations among friends. A discussion about the benefits of extended education for kids in the area caught his attention, and he went from there.
Kissner compares Digital Arts Experience to School of Rock Westchester in Bedford, where students are taught how to play rock music through hands-on training.
"I said, 'why can't we do that with computers and technology?'," Kissner said. "It's the School of Rock of the digital world."
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Teen programs offer the chance to work hands-on with professional software and equipment. Students can work on anything from recording music to digital comic book design, Kissner said. The approach is difficult to find during internships and even some college courses, Kissner said.
"They intern in a recording studio and all they do is sit and get coffee, they don't get the opportunity to actually touch any gear, use any software," said Kissner, 26. "What we want to do is give kids at that age the opportunity to use as close to professional level tools as we can provide."
After opening the educational center at 170 Hamilton Ave. on July, Kissner said people of all ages have expressed interest in advancing their knowledge in new media. An area school sent a group of students to the facility over the summer, and small businesses have been interested in using Digital Arts Experience to train employees to use new software, Kissner said.
A key to the center is the small classes and specialized courses. Students are only placed in the same class if they have similar ability levels and goals in mind for the course. Classes can be as small as two or three people.
"We have very specific course topics," said Kissner. "That way it can be more of a collective learning experience, rather than having to share a teachers time between four individuals, it's four people in a group working toward one main focus."
Classes are typically once a week, and can last anywhere from a month to a semester. The classes are tuition-based, and are scheduled based on interest. Most classes can be adjusted to reach the goals of individual students, so Kissner encourages people to call the office to setup courses over the phone.