[iDC] sharing "new media" curricula/potentials

Tiffany Holmes tholme at artic.edu
Tue Jan 23 18:02:28 EST 2007

Dear all,

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  
student population.

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  
learning styles.

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
Mobile: 312-493-0302

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/attachments/20070123/766f1099/attachment-0002.html

More information about the iDC mailing list