Creating a nimble new curriculum for digital media artists
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Creating a Nimble New Curriculum for Digital Media Artists ...

Creating a Nimble New Curriculum for Digital Media Artists

Nicola Marae Allain, Ph. D.
SUNY Empire State College
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 USA
nicola.allain@esc.edu

This is a presentation given during a Siggraph 2013 talk, on new approaches to curriculum design that allow digital media artists to collaborate on interdisciplinary media arts or design projects within virtual environments while pursuing individualized degrees.

Abstract:
Emerging technologies, digital media environments, and mobile media are rapidly changing the landscape of learning required for digital media artists. The author discusses the undergraduate digital media arts program and in the Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies (MALET) at SUNY Empire State College. These new programs allow established and emergent digital media artists to collaborate on interdisciplinary, immersive media arts or design projects within virtual environments while pursuing individualized degrees. Our nimble approach to learning design includes mentoring intensive models, fully online courses, mobile learning, prior learning assessment, and totally individualized learning on subjects proposed by students.

Students co-create at a distance in collaborative virtual environments as part of their learning. This immersion includes the integration of a complex set of skills – habituation to being within an avatar embodiment, habile navigation, communication etiquette, and orienting oneself to the environment. This develops a sense of community and team-building that provides essential skills for 21st Century artists. In immersive and mobile learning situations, students must also interact with, and create, a variety of digital media tools in interdisciplinary contexts.

These studies engage highly skilled artists from different genres in the creation of digital stories, films, interactive web media, visual narratives, games, and mixed media. They come together in experimental environments to develop full-fledged projects in virtual “creative teams”, and showcase their work in immersive Media Arts Festivals or Design Showcases. Students in mobile media design mobile applications using mobile devices. Advanced students practice a deep analysis of artistic processes and possibilities while pursuing pathways in digital media arts genres. These nimble new approaches provide opportunities for “real life” learning and the sophisticated digital skills required of 21st Century digital media artists.

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  • The author will present a framework for immersive learning and new approaches to curriculum design that allow digital media artists to collaborate on interdisciplinary media arts or design projects within virtual environments while pursuing individualized degrees.Figure 1. SUNY Empire State College Virtual Campus
  • Digital Media Arts & Emerging TechnologiesEmerging technologies, digital media environments, and mobile media are rapidly changing the landscape of learning required for digital media artists. The author will discuss the theory and practice of immersion applied in the undergraduate digital media arts program and in the Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies (MALET) at SUNY Empire State College.
  • Digital Media @CDL & MALET These new programs allow established and emergent digital media artists to collaborate on interdisciplinary, immersive media arts or design projects within virtual environments while pursuing individualized degrees. Faculty teaching in the program are scholar/artists in multiple digital media arts, with strong training in digital storytelling from interdisciplinary perspectives, media theory, and research practice in immersive learning design. A typical CDL student brings transfer credit and extensive professional experience. Many of them were previously awarded an associate’s degree in a digital media field. Most are eligible to complete prior learning assessment for college level learning credits.
  • Digital Media Students Though we accept entry level students, our students often have previous training in one or more of the following areas:digital art and design, computer arts, video, electronic music, digital storytelling, filmmaking, game design, animation, visual effects, motion graphics, animation art and design, digital photography, 3D virtual worlds, digital performance, mobile media design, and audio production. We also draw advanced students with professional backgrounds in the visual and performing arts.Our nimble approach to learning design includes mentoring intensive models, fully online courses, mobile learning, prior learning assessment, and totally individualized learning on subjects proposed by students.
  • Mentoring Model & Prior Learning AssessmentSUNY Empire State College is founded up a mentoring rich model, in which students are paired with a faculty mentor for the duration of their studies. The mentor works closely with the student on degree planning, academic advising, preparing prior learning assessment requests, career planning, and related areas. Mentors also set up independent learning opportunities for students.Prior Learning Assessment: Students may request credits for college level learning from their prior professional or personal experiences. After consultation with their mentor, the student prepares a learning essay on the requested topic (with a portfolio or links to interactive works if in the arts), which is submitted to an expert evaluator for review. The evaluation process usually includes an in-depth interview with the evaluator.
  • Degree Planning with Rationale EssayStudents propose a degree plan meeting the Area of Studies Guidelines (for digital media, this is usually in the arts), SUNY General Education Guidelines (selecting courses in 7 out of 10 areas, including communication and mathematics), and the Educational Studies requirement. This is a rigorous process. The degree plan must show integration of general learning with concentration, demonstrating depth and breadth with a logical progression of studies. The degree plan must be accompanied by a rationale essay and submitted to an assessment committee for review and approval. For a bachelor’s degree: credits required: 128. Transfer credits allowed: up to 96. Advanced credits required: 45. Minimum advanced concentration credits: 24. For BA: 96 liberal credits required. For BS: 64 liberal credits needed.
  • Emerging Digital Media ArtsDegree concentration titles may be standard (such as Digital Media Arts, Digital Storytelling, Digital Art and Design, Media Arts, etc.) or customized (such as Writing for Games, Digital Storytelling and Games, Illustration and Animation).In addition to online courses, our students have access to the entire catalog of individual and small group courses offered by faculty across the college.Advanced Digital Media Arts courses engage highly skilled artists from different genres in the creation of digital stories, films, interactive web media, visual narratives, games, and mixed media.With the development of free, open online applications and environments, students are now able to participate in creative arts collaborations at a distance.
  • Creative Collaboration Students co-create at a distance in collaborative virtual environments as part of their learning. This immersion includes the integration of a complex set of skills – habituation to being within an avatar embodiment, habile navigation, communication etiquette, and orienting oneself to the environment. This develops a sense of community and team-building that provides essential skills for 21st Century learners. In immersive and mobile learning situations, students must also interact with, and create, a variety of digital media tools in interdisciplinary contexts.
  • Digital Media: Emergent Student InterestsAnimationDigital Art and DesignDigital StorytellingDigital PhotographyInteractive MediaGame Design/Writing/DevelopmentFilmmakingMedia ArtsMedia & LearningMobile MediaPerforming Arts & TechnologiesWriting for Digital Media
  • CDL Digital Media Studies:Online Courses:Digital Art and Design, IntroductoryDigital Art and Design, Advanced.Digital StorytellingInformation DesignMedia ArtsHistory and Theory of New MediaSample Independent Studies:Advanced Media Arts ProjectAdvanced Interactive DesignDesign Writing and ResearchGames as Interactive StorytellingCreating WorldsPost-Production TechnologiesStudies in Mobile Media3D Virtual Worlds
  • Supporting CDL Studies: Art, Media, and Culture: The Photographic VisionIllustrationCreative Writing: FictionTelevision and CultureAmerican CinemaWomen, Girls and the MediaArts ManagementImages of Women in Western CivilizationVisual LiteracyWhat is Art?Proposal WritingCommunication Through New MediaCapstone in Media and CommunicationIn addition, students usually select studies from SMAT and BME to add breadth to their program.
  • Capstone Course: Most students complete an individualized capstone focusing on their area of interest, such as:Capstone in Art, Nature, CultureCapstone in Commercial PhotographyCapstone in Digital Art and DesignCapstone in Digital Media LiteracyCapstone: Game ScriptCapstone: Media ArtsCapstone: Performing Arts Management (with technical focus)They may also complete an additional advanced project, such as:Advanced Media Arts ProjectAdvanced Interactive DesignIndividualized Arts Project
  • Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies (MALET) Program GoalsConsider the social, ethical and legal impacts of new technologies on our lives, individually and collectively. Explore the multiple, unfolding political and economic impacts of digital media as a transformative agent in the global civic and market arenas.Develop an understanding of how people learn in technology-mediated environments.Examine and evaluate learning that occurs in technology mediated environments, and the impact of digital tools, resources and pedagogical methods in these settings.Acquire the skills and capacity to identify, employ and evaluate technologically supported tools and methodologies. Conduct original research projects both individually and in collaborative faculty-student teams in order to expand knowledge in the field.
  • Table 1: YEAR 1 Core CoursesTerm 1:Learning with Emerging Technologies: Theory and PracticeNew Media and New LiteraciesTerm 2:Design of Online Learning EnvironmentsSocial and Ethical Issues in the Digital EraTerm 3: Evaluating Learning In Participatory Learning EnvironmentsAdvanced Design Seminar: Portfolio Project  Table 2: YEAR 2 Electives and Research SeminarsTerm 1ElectiveElectiveTerm 2ElectiveElectiveTerm 3Pro-SeminarResearch or Capstone Project 
  • MALET CurriculumProgram CoursesGame Based LearningIdentities and Communitiesin Immersive EnvironmentsAdvanced Program Planning/Systems ThinkingAdvanced Evaluation and AnalyticsComputers, Ethics and SocietyOther CoursesIndividualized StudiesSelections from other graduate programs: MBA, MA in Social Policy, MLA (liberal studies), MAT (teaching), MAAL (adult learning)Selections from certificate programs,including new media and digital performance technologiesPracticumResearchDesignTeaching
  • Our Challenge: Creation at a Distance. Engaging in collaborate arts requires the mastery of advanced tools, techniques and technologies. This presents a particular set of challenges when the learning, and collaboration, takes places within online and distance learning contexts. Questions we have addressed:How will students learn new tools?How will they collaborate at a distance?How will they access equipment and space needed to create films and other media arts projects?How do we assess the work?
  • The Autonomous Learner. How will students learn new tools?With the exception of the Digital Art and Design courses, students are expected to be autonomous in their learning, and be willing to learn tools on their own. They are encouraged to find how-to resources and tutorial videos online, and subscribe to excellent technical instruction courses such as the ones available at Lynda.com. Each course has a collaborative learning area for students to ask questions and assist each other with technical issues.
  • Experimental Environments. How will they collaborate at a distance? Students come together in experimental environments to develop full-fledged projects in virtual “creative teams”, and showcase their work in an immersive Media Arts Festival (held in the virtual world Second Life). They select the collaboration tools for their teams. These include Skype, Second Life, Mobile Applications, Dropbox, and other freely available communication technologies. They have the option of using the tools built into the learning management platform, but most students prefer other tools.
  • Initial ImmersionImmersion begins with the MALET Opening Reception. Students receive an orientation to the program, and virtual environment. The act of immersion in itself includes the integration of a complex set of skills: habituation to being within an avatar embodiment, habile navigation, handling headsets, communication etiquette, orienting oneself to the environment, etc. In immersive learning situations, students are also asked to interact with, and create, a variety of digital media in interdisciplinary contexts. In collaborative settings, they must also coordinate the complex logistics of teamwork and content creation as they master the new environments.
  • Access to Equipment and Spaces: Most students come equipped with a minimum of a computer and a smartphone. Students transferring extensive coursework or prior professional experience have sophisticated programs and tools. They may purchase applications at educational discounts.Smartphone cameras and video capability allow students to create short videos. Mobile applications add enhanced features. Pre and post production software programs are freely available as open source tools. Many digital storytelling applications are available at no cost.Some students have access to sophisticated “on ground” equipment and studio space. Others use various accessible locations to create their projects. The beauty of virtual worlds (such as Second Life) is that the freely provide the environment, built-in tools, and all resources necessary to create effective films (machinima).
  • Immersive Virtual WorldsThe first sessions require a conversion of digital media, technology, and communication skills as students begin to integrate their learning and prepare for complex tasks. The beauty of immersive virtual worlds (such as Second Life™ and Open Sim) is that they freely provide the environment, built-in tools, and all resources necessary to create effective films (machinima). Students hold practice sessions in Second Life™, and participate in a Media Arts Festival. They also have the option of creating their media arts project in Second Life™ or other virtual worlds. Some students select immersive games for their primary environments.
  • How do we assess the work?Project based assessment Portfolio based assessment Iterative approach/formative feedback Summative FeedbackStudents document all proposals, planning, forms, contracts, scripts, flowcharts, storyboards and processes on student led blogs (which are evaluated by faculty).Substantive discussion is expected and assessed.Virtual Field Trips participation and critiques are assessed.Peer-review and critique.Students write final reflective narratives.Course-specific rubrics (i.e. for digital storytelling or advanced design).
  • Courses in digital storytelling and digital art and design prepare students to display the high level of artistic production values expected in the Media Arts course. Advanced students practice a deep analysis of the artistic process and possibilities while pursuing pathways in the genre of their choice in the History and Theory of New Media. Combined, these exciting new studies at CDL provide opportunities for “real life” learning, enhanced environments, and the sophisticated digital skills required of 21st Century media artists.

Creating a nimble new curriculum for digital media artists Creating a nimble new curriculum for digital media artists Presentation Transcript

  • Emerging technologies, digital media environments, and mobile media are rapidly changing the landscape of learning required for digital media artists. The author will discuss the theory and practice of immersion applied in the Center for Distance Learning undergraduate digital media arts program and in the Graduate School Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies (MALET) at SUNY Empire State College. These courses and programs are primarily taught online and at a distance. They include the option of individualized studies and one to one courses in multiple learning modalities, including face to face and limited residencies. Digital Media Arts & Emerging Technologies
  • These new programs allow established and emergent digital media artists to collaborate on interdisciplinary, immersive media arts or design projects within virtual environments while pursuing individualized degrees. Faculty teaching in the program are scholar/artists in multiple digital media arts, with strong training in digital storytelling from interdisciplinary perspectives, media theory, and research practice in immersive learning design. A typical CDL student brings transfer credit and extensive professional experience. Many of them were previously awarded an associate’s degree in a digital media field. Most are eligible to complete prior learning assessment for college level learning credits. Digital Media @CDL & MALET
  • Though we accept entry level students, our students often have previous training in one or more of the following areas: digital art and design, computer arts, video, electronic music, digital storytelling, filmmaking, game design, animation, visual effects, motion graphics, animation art and design, digital photography, 3D virtual worlds, digital performance, mobile media design, and audio production. We also draw advanced students with professional backgrounds in the visual and performing arts. Our nimble approach to learning design includes mentoring intensive models, fully online courses, mobile learning, prior learning assessment, and totally individualized learning on subjects proposed by students. Digital Media Students
  • SUNY Empire State College is founded upon a mentoring rich model, in which students are paired with a faculty mentor for the duration of their studies. The mentor works closely with the student on degree planning, academic advising, preparing prior learning assessment requests, career planning, and related areas. Mentors also set up independent learning opportunities for students. Prior Learning Assessment: Students may request credits for college level learning from their prior professional or personal experiences. After consultation with their mentor, the student prepares a learning essay on the requested topic (with a portfolio or links to interactive works if in the arts), which is submitted to an expert evaluator for review. The evaluation process usually includes an in-depth interview with the evaluator. Mentoring Model & Prior Learning Assessment
  • Students propose a degree plan meeting the Area of Studies Guidelines (for digital media, this is usually in the arts), SUNY General Education Guidelines (selecting courses in 7 out of 10 areas, including communication and mathematics), and the Educational Studies requirement. This is a rigorous process. The degree plan must show integration of general learning with concentration, demonstrating depth and breadth with a logical progression of studies. The degree plan must be accompanied by a rationale essay and submitted to an assessment committee for review and approval. For a bachelor’s degree: credits required: 128. Transfer credits allowed: up to 96. Advanced credits required: 45. Minimum advanced concentration credits: 24. For BA: 96 liberal credits required. For BS: 64 liberal credits needed. Degree Planning with Rationale Essay
  • Degree concentration titles may be standard (such as Digital Media Arts, Digital Storytelling, Digital Art and Design, Media Arts, etc.) or customized (such as Writing for Games, Digital Storytelling and Games, Illustration and Animation). In addition to online courses, our students have access to the entire catalog of individual and small group courses offered by faculty across the college. Advanced Digital Media Arts courses engage highly skilled artists from different genres in the creation of digital stories, films, interactive web media, visual narratives, games, and mixed media. With the development of free, open online applications and environments, students are now able to participate in creative arts collaborations at a distance. Emerging Digital Media Arts
  • Creative Collaboration
  • Animation Digital Art and Design Digital Storytelling Digital Photography Interactive Media Game Design/Writing/Development Filmmaking Media Arts Media & Learning Mobile Media Performing Arts & Technologies Sound Design Writing for Digital Media Digital Media: Emergent Student Interests
  • Online Courses: Digital Art and Design, Introductory Digital Art and Design, Advanced. Digital Storytelling Information Design Media Arts History and Theory of New Media *sample CDL Digital Media Studies Independent Studies*: Advanced Media Arts Project Advanced Interactive Design Design Writing and Research Games as Interactive Storytelling Creating Worlds Post-Production Technologies Studies in Mobile Media 3D Virtual Worlds
  • Supporting CDL Studies: Art, Media & Culture • The Photographic Vision • Illustration • Creative Writing: Fiction • Television and Culture • American Cinema • Women, Girls and the Media • The Future of Being Human (Science and Technology Focus) • Arts Management • Images of Women in Western Civilization • Visual Literacy • What is Art? • Proposal Writing • Communication Through New Media • Capstone in Media and Communication In addition, students usually include studies from SMAT (programming) and BME (Advertising and Marketing).
  • Capstone Course Most students complete an individualized capstone focusing on their area of interest, such as: Capstone in Art, Nature, Culture Capstone in Commercial Photography Capstone in Digital Art and Design Capstone in Digital Media Literacy Capstone: Game Script Capstone: Media Arts Capstone: Performing Arts Management (with technical focus) They may also complete an advanced project course, such as: Advanced Media Arts Project Advanced Interactive Design Individualized Arts Project
  • 1. Consider the social, ethical and legal impacts of new technologies on our lives, individually and collectively. 2. Explore the multiple, unfolding political and economic impacts of digital media as a transformative agent in the global civic and market arenas. 3. Develop an understanding of how people learn in technology-mediated environments. 4. Examine and evaluate learning that occurs in technology mediated environments, and the impact of digital tools, resources and pedagogical methods in these settings. 5. Acquire the skills and capacity to identify, employ and evaluate technologically supported tools and methodologies. 6. Conduct original research projects both individually and in collaborative faculty-student teams in order to expand knowledge in the field. Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies (MALET) Program Goals
  • MALET Curriculum Term 1 Core Courses Term 2 Core Courses Term 3 Core Courses Learning with Emerging Technologies: Theory and Practice Design of Online Learning Environments Evaluating Learning In Participatory Learning Environments New Media and New Literacies Social and Ethical Issues in the Digital Era Advanced Design Seminar: Portfolio Project Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Elective Elective Pro-Seminar Elective Elective Research or Capstone Project Table 2: YEAR 2 Electives and Research Seminars Table 1: YEAR 1 Core Courses
  • MALET Curriculum Table 3: Elective Types Program Courses Other Courses Practicum • Game Based Learning • Individualized Studies Research • Identities and Communities in Immersive Environments • Advanced Program Planning/Systems Thinking • Selections from other graduate programs: MBA, MA in Social Policy, MLA (liberal studies), MAT (teaching), MAAL (adult learning) Design Teaching • Advanced Evaluation and Analytics • Selections from certificate programs, • Computers, Ethics and Society including new media and digital performance technologies
  • Engaging in collaborate arts requires the mastery of advanced tools, techniques and technologies. This presents a particular set of challenges when the learning, and collaboration, takes places within online and distance learning contexts. Questions we have addressed: How will students learn new tools? How will they collaborate at a distance? How will they access equipment and space needed to create films and other media arts projects? How do we assess the work? Our Challenge: Creation at a Distance
  • How will students learn new tools? With the exception of the Digital Art and Design courses, students are expected to be autonomous in their learning, and be willing to learn tools on their own. They are encouraged to find how-to resources and tutorial videos online, and subscribe to excellent technical instruction courses such as the ones available at Lynda.com. Each course has a collaborative learning area for students to ask questions and assist each other with technical issues. The Autonomous Learner
  • How will they collaborate at a distance? Students come together in experimental environments to develop full-fledged projects in virtual “creative teams”, and showcase their work in an immersive Media Arts Festival (held in the virtual world Second Life™). They select the collaboration tools for their teams. These include Skype, Second Life™, Google Hangout, Mobile Applications, Dropbox, and other freely available communication technologies. They have the option of using the tools built into the learning management platform, but most students prefer other tools. Experimental Environments
  • Initial Immersion
  • • Students come equipped with a minimum of a computer and a smartphone. • Students transferring extensive coursework or prior professional experience have sophisticated programs and tools. They may purchase applications at educational discounts. • Smartphone cameras and video capability allow students to create short videos. Mobile applications add enhanced features. • Pre and post production software programs are freely available as open source tools. Digital storytelling applications are available at no cost. • Some students have access to sophisticated “on ground” equipment and studio space. Others use various accessible locations to create their projects. Access to Equipment and Spaces
  • Learning Integration
  • How do we assess the work? • Project based assessment • Portfolio based assessment • Iterative approach/formative feedback • Summative Feedback • Students document all proposals, planning, forms, contracts, scripts, flowcharts, storyboards and processes on student led blogs (which are evaluated by faculty). • Substantive discussion is expected and assessed. • Virtual Field Trips participation and critiques are assessed. • Peer-review and critique. • Students write final reflective narratives. • Course-specific rubrics (i.e. for digital storytelling or advanced design). Assessment
  • Courses in digital storytelling and digital art and design prepare students to display the high level of artistic production values expected in the Media Arts course. Advanced students practice a deep analysis of the artistic process and possibilities while pursuing pathways in the genre of their choice in the History and Theory of New Media. Combined, these exciting new studies at CDL provide opportunities for “real life” learning, enhanced environments, and the sophisticated digital skills required of 21st Century media artists. Digital Skills Development
  • Nicola Marae Allain, Ph. D., Faculty/Mentor & Academic Area Coordinator, Digital Media Core Faculty, Master of Arts in Learning & Emerging Technologies Center for Distance Learning, Empire State College, State University of New York nicola.allain@esc.edu website: http://nicolamarae.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/Nicola_Marae Creating a Nimble New Curriculum for Digital Media Artists by Nicola Marae Allain, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Thank You!