topical media & game development
(new) media in creative technology
from a new media perspective
In this note we will discuss the educational targets and learning
goals for the new media track in creative technology.
By way of introduction, it will also be explained what must be understood
by educational targets, and how we can relate these to the learning
goals or topics represented by a collection of courses.
A set of courses will be proposed, but also an alternative approach,
offering media in context, that is as an element
of creative applications will be discussed, for which
we will also indicate the relation to other theories and areas
status: 18/2/08 -- for discussion
Creating a curriculum for creative technology
and for that matter a new media
track, is, indeed,
a complex puzzle, for which potentially many solutions exist.
The reader may wonder why also here the sub-title
from a new media perspective
Briefly, this may be explained by stating that, one way or another,
may be regarded as an essential ingredient
of any ICT-related study, and that, in addition, there are
multiple ways of including media
curriculum, even without offering
an explicit new media
track or specialisation.
In other reports we have discussed
the relation of new media to
indicated the requirements for
and (moreover) gave an outline of the creative technology
In each of the reports, an indication of educational targets,
for each of the various tracks or sub-disciplines, was given,
suggesting the relevance of the proposed solution(s).
To give an indication what is meant by the arguably debatable
categories of educational targets, a brief explanation is given below:
categories of educational targets
- skills -- practical, hands-on, technology-oriented
- knowledge -- ready-to-use, beyond skills, required insight
- theory -- grounded in literature and scientific context
- experience -- application of skills and knowledge in context
Although there may be no sharp dividing line between
for example skills and knowledge, knowledge and theory, and skills
and experience, when taking into account the scope within
which skills are executed, or the depth or explicitness
of theories involved, such a distinction becomes (hopefully)
Below we will, after clarifying the learning goals
and educational targets of the creative technology
curriculum, give an outline of how the new media track
could fit within the curriculum, and what choices need to
be made to finally realize the curriculum.
creative technology -- learning goals and targets
In CreaTe -- Proposal for a new curriculum (p. 12),
a number of components are mentioned that should be part
of such a curriculum. These components include:
track(s) -- creative technology
- computing -- architecture, networks, programming
- technology -- new media, smart technology
- creative applications -- creativity (mental + artistic), psychology, research/design methods, communication
- business -- marketing, planning, project management
- design -- sketch, prototype, realize
An observation we may make is that for
creative applications the list of learning goals
is rather long and diverse, potentially involving
many scientific and possibly extra-academic disciplines,
dependent on what level, so to speak, we wish
to present these aspects.
In principle, the components listed above
can be taken to represent educational
targets, that is what students of
need to learn or obtain during their study:
from a new media perspective: track(s)
- skills -- computing, mathematics, simulation, technology
- knowledge -- mathematics, computer & software architecture
- theory -- systems engineering, media & communication, human factors
- experience -- project(s), deployment in social context
Let it be clear, these targets are not a given per se, but could,
and probably should be discussed, to obtain a concise
description of what we aim for with
An additional (intended) benefit is that this way the
requirements for each track in the curriculum can (in principle)
be more concisely specified, and compared with the requirements
for other tracks.
new media -- targets and learning goals
In delineating the content and scope of the new media
track, or even more plainly the media
component in the creative technology
curriculum, we may, with an eye to what is
common nowadays for university-level curricula, arrive
at the following educational targets:
target(s) -- new media
- skill(s) -- scripting, programming, interaction design
- knowledge -- web, multimedia & game technology
- theory -- understanding of media & communication theory
- experience -- concept development & realization of (playful) application(s)
There is, obviously, ample freedom of what courses
or topics to introduce, apart from basic
web technology, to realize such targets.
Within the creative technology curriculum,
however, covering a substantial part of the
following topics, at least for a new media track,
In the list of topics, each of which could
be presented in a course of its own, no
explicit indication is given what must be considered
One option is to include in each course an introductory part
in which the basic technology is presented,
accompanied with exercises that allow the students to practice
and gain experience. This is the way that, for example
at art schools, the obstacle of teaching technology
is generally dealt with.
However, in an academic setting,it seems more worthwhile
to profit from other disciplines, such as computing
and design, to obtain the required skills
and knowledge of, respectively, scripting/programming and
new media -- course(s)
In specifying the requirements for the computing track
in creative technology and giving
a first proposal for how to organise the first year,
admittedly from a new media
perspective, the following list of courses were proposed, see below.
It must be remarked beforehand, however, that the proposal
for the first year, which only includes NM1 and NM2, for
a total of 9 credits,
was to a large extent motivated by feasibility,
that is an equal distribution of courses over the
sub-discplines of creative technology
and, consequently, a delegation of the responsibility
to teach scripting to new media, as part
of NM1 (web technology).
Another, implicit, assumption was that attention to contextual aspects of
new media, related with creativity, communication and business,
was envisaged to take place in creative application projects,
that must serve an integrative function in the program.
|CS1||3||computer & network architecture(s)|
|CS2||6||programming fundamental(s) -- C++/Java|
|CS3||6||advanced programming -- idoms, APIs|
|NM2||6||animation in 2D|
|NM3||6||web technology (2) -- php, sql, web services|
|NM4||6||3D virtual environments -- x3d/vrml|
|NM5||6||game development -- C++/DirectX|
|CA1||3||we create identity|
|CA2||6||living & working tomorrow (advanced)|
|CA3||6||have fun and play!|
As an exmmple CA1 (we create identity)
planned in the first month, would allow students
to create a common website, make interactive videos about
topics of interest, and present themselves both as
individuals and as a group, thus creating a
common identity, using open source content management
and social networking (web) technology.
This way not only the students creativity is stimulated
but, albeit in a somewhat implicit way, students also gain
hands-on experience (skills) with current-day web technology.
In later creative application courses, CA2 and CA3,
other tracks, in particular smart technology and
design could play a more prominent role.
As argued in the computing requirements report,
it is likely that we wish to offer our students, next to scripting,
in-depth skills and knowledge of programming,
preferably in C++, which also seems required for
the smart technology track, and may also be considered a pre-requisite
for (serious) game development with more advanced technologies.
As a remark, dividing the tasks of teaching basic skills
and programming is beyond the scope of this note,
even though it will ultimately determine in what form
media technologies will be presented.
media in context -- creative application(s)
It seems worthwhile to present a scenario
of teaching media-related skills and knowledge
(and even some theory) not in a topic-oriented way
as indicated above, but embedded in a creative application
The type of application could range from, say, a cultural heritage
application , a social awareness system
which by its definition would include smart technology ,
or a (more or less serious) game on
a suitable rich media platform .
Irrespective of the type of application or the societal topic(s)
addressed by the product, such a course/prpject would
address the following learning goals:
- elementary web-based multimedia technology
- programming and tools for interactive animation and video
- first principles of information visualisation
- basic media and cummunication theory
- the design of an effective communication plan
- the business and societal context of media deployment
The advantage of such an approach, in which media technology
is presented in the context of a creative application
(of societal relevance),
over a disciplinary approach to teaching new media,
is that skills and knowledge are learned as a group, which
allows students to tackle issues according to
their interest, expertise and (individual) talent.
The disadvantage, in return, is that it becomes
more difficult to assess the contribution as well as
the level of skill and knowledge of the individual student(s).
Very likely, for a first year, a middle-way approach is most desirable,
where students work individually or in small groups
in disciplinary courses for the various tracks,
but are encouraged to work in large groups
on integrative creative application projects,
which allows them to develop a more personal profile
according to individual preference(s).
An example structure of such an integrative project,
with a new media flavor, indeed, is given below:
- week 1 -- introduction of platform and design issues 
- week 1 -- concept design of (media) application(s) 
- week 2 -- essentials of animation and visualisation 
- week 2 -- basic media and communication theory 
- week 3 -- information presentation in (flex RIA) platform
- week 3 -- student presentations of design and storyboards
- week 4 -- business and societal context of the creative industry 
- week 4 -- delivery and presentation of final application(s)
Not included in this outline, are checkpoints for tutor
and peer review, which are essental instruments
for feedback and progress control.
Also, in my experience, it is worthwhile to create
an element of (external) visibility, for example by
involving an (external) commercial or institutional partner,
which acts as opdrachtgever.
As for issues of theory and technology, it must be mentioned
that such projects may form an excellent starting point
for literature study or technical exploration,
since they do provide the motivation needed for more in-depth
studies, that may otherwise be hard to achieve.
In this brief report we have given an outline of
the disciplinary courses needed for a new media
track in creative technology.
Also we have sketched a partially alternative scenario
which allows for teaching media skills
and knowledge in the context of
a creative application project,
where the goals is determined by content and (societal)
relevance, yet the means require sufficient
yechnical expertise, that must be acquired on the way.
In summary, however, it seems best to include
a sufficient amount of disciplinary (new media) courses,
where students can explore their technical skills and
creative talent in a more independent and individual way.
From a new media perspective, I am tempted to say,
such courses form an essential
preparation for more demanding projects, where
apart from technical skills and knowledge, also
interpersonal communication and group behavior
play a role.
Nevertheless, as integrative units, creative application
projects must be considered essential in the
creative technology curriculum, to prepare students
for one of the possible roles
entertainment, or (serious)
- Eliëns A., Wang Y. van Riel C. and Scholte T. (2007), 3D Digital Dossiers -- a new way of presenting cultural heritage on the Web, In Proc. Web3D 2007, ACM SIGGRAPH, pp. 157-160
- Eliëns A. and Vyas D., Panorama -- explorations in the aesthetics of social awareness, In Proc. GAME-ON 07, Nov 20-22, University of Bologna, Marco Roccetti (ed.), p. 71-75, EUROSIS-ETI Publication, ISBN 9789077381373
- Eliëns A., van de Watering M., Huurdeman H., Bhikharie S.V., Lemmers H., Vellinga P. , Clima Futura @ VU -- communicating (unconvenient) science, In Proc. GAME-ON 07, Nov 20-22, University of Bologna, Marco Roccetti (ed.), pp. 125-129, EUROSIS-ETI Publication, ISBN 9789077381373
- Kress G. and van Leeuwen T. (1996), Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, Routledge
- Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter (eds), MyCreativity Reader, A Critique of Creative Industries, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2007
- A. Eliëns, topical media & game development -- media.eliens.net
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