For the first term of the academic year ’11-’12 I was given the chance to do the lectures for the Communication and Visualisation unit of the BA Sound Design course at Ravensbourne College. I face this ‘task’ as a challenge; if there is a perfect presentation, i.e. one that achieves communication through meaningful visualisation, where else should it be found, if not at the lectures of the homonymous unit? Whether I made it or not, it’s your call.
In practical terms the unit’s goal is to offer the know-how to the students for making an online portfolio of their work. That will enable them to communicate who they are and what they do in a professional way. The unit’s curriculum covers some theory on user interface design, however the majority of the lectures is live demonstration of tools and methodologies for building an electronic portfolio. The free service offered by wordpress.com is demonstrated as a starting point.
The presentation below is from the first lecture of this unit, which was an introduction of the goal of this unit, the importance of having a website and a critique on portfolios of sound designers and music composers that are already out there. The first half of the slides is covered with notes of the talk that accompanied them.
The second lecture covers some fundamental user interface design principles and recommended methodologies. Hyperlinks to the resources used, are mentioned on the respective slides, through which more details about every ‘prinicple’ can be found. Simplicity is also one of these principles and at that point I felt obliged to make a tribute to John Maeda’s work on the subject. His book ‘The laws of Simplicity’ is one of my favourites and for that lecture I extracted from this book the laws that could also be appropriated on web design.
There is another lecture to follow, which will also be the last one. Due to the large number of students I was asked to give each lecture twice as the students are split into groups. The third and final lecture will be ammended on that blog-post as well.
I had the chance to be invited at the Digital Futures Conference hosted by Ravensbourne College to talk on Serious Games and learning. The conference featured a number of great professionals like Euan Semple and Dr. Paul Coulton from the University of Lancaster. The headline was Howard Rheingold who talked about a couple of hours via tele-conference.
I discovered games and learning in my research about a year ago when I came across SAAM’s Ghosts of a Chance project and was fascinated by the idea of using the power of games to achieve something as tough and important at the same time as learning. During my MFA studies I’ve been exploring in depth Serious and in particular Educational Games and their impact on learning, focusing always on case studies coming from the cultural heritage sector.
My ‘aha!’ moment came when I read about the so-called ‘Game Mechanics’ on which I focused my presentation at Digital Futures. Game mechanics are a set of rules intended to produce an enjoyable game experience, but has also been applied in other areas such as business.
One of the main themes of the conference was collaboration, so another point I would like to highlight from the presentation is the slide at which I talked about my personal experience of game enhanced-learning. Quoting the text that accompanied the slide that showed the Microsoft Silverlight forum:
As a developer myself I find the online forums very important and whenever I face a serious issue myself I post a question online and in one or two hours people from allover the world respond to solve my (!) problem. And I did wonder many times; why do all these people bother? why do they spend their time to share their knowledge? Well for a little while, I used to be one of those. When I used to develop with Microsoft Silverlight at some point I felt I had to give back to the community that helped me, by helping others. But being honest waht really got me going, where the game mechanics of the website and for two months I tried very hard to get 700 points and get promoted from a “Member” to a “Participant”. As you can see, I never managed to do so, but by the time I got bored I had already helped in the solution of a few hundreds of questions.
I also got a nice tweet about it!
I got a few complimenting tweets for my presentation but once Rheingold was on, I was rather forgotten! The networking was good as well, and for me in any case it was a great experience as I always wanted to present at a conference. Bling! +5 Achievement Points!
My MFA thesis is on Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and combines all of my interests: Augmented Reality, museums and game mechanics. More to come from that one!
Last week I hosted a workshop on Augmented Reality for the post-graduate students of Ravensbourne College. It was divided in three major parts; the definition of what is Augmented Reality and what is not, then the development of a couple of Augmented Reality applications based on the FLARManager software library and the last part was a brief examination of platform-specific Augmented Reality tools.
The workshop demos required only the Adobe Flash Builder, as the attendees had to bring their own laptops (Mac and PCs) and Adobe Flash is the only cross-platform Augmented Reality solution development-wise.
Please find below the presentation and also the document that was handed out:
Click to enlarge