[iDC] sharing "new media" curricula/potentials
tholme at artic.edu
Tue Jan 23 18:02:28 EST 2007
Thanks to all who have posted a response to the questions about how
to create community/interdisciplinary collaborations and innovation
in new media curricula. Thanks to those to who took the time to
describe your programs to us! We'd love to hear more-------Mark
Tribe and Michael Naimark created a whole list on their WIKI but we'd
like to hear your take on your curricula and its effect on the
student population---in particular the diversity of the new media
In terms of strategies to encourage a diverse community and modes of
participation in curricula, I'm thrilled to hear Patrick's comment
about creating a virtual classroom in Second Life. Is anyone else
working with Second Life as an educational space or performance venue?
Interesting questions have been posed about the ways that computer
programming as a medium is approached by both students and their
instructors. Most of you agreed that there is no need for a concrete
set of standards or outcomes for a new media program. But I'm
curious about your position on this question: should every new media
student learn the basics of computer programming? Why or why not?
Blanca described the difficulty of learning programming in a
collaborative group when everyone in the group was working on a
project to be produced with a deadline. She spoke of the challenge
of having so many levels of experience in a working group.
Shawn articulated his position that artists should learn to code
("The artist should not be absent from the creation of their own
custom software.") and that computer programming was a medium to
learn no different that painting or drawing.
Coding literacy takes time to acquire---but if you spend the time
anyone can do it. MFA students at SAIC want to make large-scale
projects without having to fool around learning media "basics."
Recently, a graduate student informed me that our department should
hire an additional computer programmer as technician who would work
exclusively with students to "code" their projects from inspiration
to installation. Nancy mentioned this problem of the production
costs---the elaborate new media installations one sees these days at
festivals require tremendous resources to produce. The graduate
students are hyper-aware that 2 years is a short time to learn
programming and produce a thesis piece. Our MFA population (25
total) is incredibly varied in terms of levels of experience and
interests. It is a constant concern, how to get these students to
independently solve coding problems and feel empowered by their tool
so they can realize their exciting ideas.
In Unlocking the Clubhouse (2002), social scientist Jane Margolis and
computer scientist Alan Fischer make recommendations to decrease the
gender gap in computer science (CS) programs particularly in those
areas that prepare individuals to design and create new software.
This discussion, while focused on CS students, is incredibly relevant
to this debate over how to keep new media students engaged in a
community of students studying the same medium: the practice of
learning programming. The book is based on interviews with over 100
computer science students from Carnegie Mellon University. The
authors' study was a huge success; since 1995 the proportion of women
has risen from 7% to 42% in 2000 in the undergraduate CS program.
Here are some of the key recommendations:
1) Level the playing field---give those with less programming
experience a background. Combine a "discovery-based", real-world
orientation to curriculum with an introduction to programming that
would prepare students for a more advanced course.
2) Advertise to everyone---Prior experience with computer
programming is not a prerequisite.
3) Hire a pool of diverse teachers and TAs; equal numbers or men and
women in particular, and hire individuals that engage a variety of
4) Create programming problems around real-world issues. (Molly
Steenson described short, 4 to 6 week courses in Ivrea that addressed
this need---sounded very interesting!)
I think for the most part these four are good rules to live by. Let
us know if there are other strategies you have employed to increase
the diversity of your student population.
Thank you to the IDC listers for these resources also:
Andrea Polli-Leonardo Education Forum
Shawn Lawson-Siggraph Education Committee
PAUL D. MILLER aka DJ SPOOKY-Media Sounds course syllabus, and
description of the European Graduate School. Thanks for these
references. I want to take the class....
Michael Naimark and Mark Tribe: Wiki Directory of Academic Art and
Technology Programs (IDC listers--try to add yours if it's not there)
Kevin Hamilton: Apply, this one sounds fascination!
Workshop on HCI and New Media: Methodology and Evaluation
Molly Steenson: description of interaction design at Ivrea
I look forward to hearing more. Cheers, Tiff
Tiffany Holmes, Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Art and Technology Studies
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
112 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL 60603
Phone: 312-345-3760, Fax: 312-345-3565
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