Alright, I have an idea for the educators program, but I'm not entirely sure I should/could be the one to present it. This is my sixth year as an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in computer engineering and art (in a program my school refers to as "kinetic imaging," focusing on video, animation, sound, and computer graphics in general). This gives me a unique perspective regarding teaching techniques in two dichotomous disciplines. I'm not entirely sure if this is consistant with many art schools, but at my university, students are taught from the beginning to think very openly and conceptually. Heavy emphasis is placed on abstract conceptualization and any analytical thought is weighted on problem discovery and discussion rather than problem resolution.
I'm not downplaying the importance of this aspect of thinking, especially in an art field. Hell, many engineering and computer science curricula could benefit from even a modest introduction of this way of thinking. However, the problem is that many of the artists my university puts out have no solid means of thinking analytically about problem solving. Many of them tend to be poor troubleshooters and tend not to approach a problem piecewise or algorithmically.
This isn't an overly serious problem, but it puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with technology. Their workflow is impeded because they have to spend an excessive amount of time figuring out how software works or trying to recover from an innocent, but avoidable, mistake. Students that don't have this problem typically have worked with computers before or have taken some initiative to learn basic principles outside of their regular coursework.
I've made the suggestion in passing to various members of my department's faculty that there should be some kind of techinical computing courses early in the students' university career to prepare them for this; something more than learning applications in userland, something with some basic programming or (even better) scripting.
This, of course, is where Blender comes in and shines. With the integration of quite possibly one of the easiest scripting languages around (Python, of course), students can use Blender to learn basic programming principles and make something cool at the same time. Because the language is integrated, they can instantly put this to practical use and see the results visually. That, and the price is unbeatable. They learn the importance of "thinking like a computer" and Blender get the recognition it deserves.
That's my basic pitch. There are definitely places where things can be added and/or changed, but that's basically my idea. My problem is that I'm not sure I have the credentials to get this accepted for presentation. What would be a good suggested plan of action? I'd love to be able to present this, as it's very relevant and, from what I saw on the siggraph website, it's right in line with many of the other presentations that have been previously... um... presented.
What do you think?
I understand your doubts... but you have to decide for yourself. You can submit a (outline for) a paper to the Siggraph educators committee, and wait for them to give you feedback.
Well, I took the initiative and submitted a proposal for a panel at the upcoming SIGGRAPH. There are four people on this panel, myself included. Here
is the proposal in doc format and here
is the proposal in Open Office format. Hopefully there aren't any glaring grammatical or spelling errors. Thanks to everyone you helped with getting this written and to everyone who agreed to participate. Now all we have to do is sit and wait, hoping they'll accept the proposal (and if the proposal is accepted, allow me to correct any grammatical errors that we discover).
Yes, I like your proposal. Using Python within an immersive,
3D environment like Blender is a good first step. It would certainly
engage students. At the University of Florida, we are going one
step further in getting students to not only think of basic computing
within the 3D environment, but using the 3D environment itself to
remake computing. We've dubbed it "Aesthetic Computing" and
you can see some information at:
Our software environment (RUBE) includes: VRML, X3D,
SodiPodi and Blender, the first two being file formats, and the
last two being open source tools. In the Fall, I plan to teach
simulation modeling using Blender and SodiPodi, along with
scripting interfaces, allowing students to build models. The key
thing here, using Blender as an example, is that the models are
built directly in the 3D interface, so it is this interface that forms
the center of attention, and not the scripting language. We use
an X3D/VRML export mechanism in Blender to allow for interactive
models to be constructed, and we will also shortly provide a Python
approach as well.
I see no reason why other, more fundamental, courses in
programming could not also employ tools such as Blender --
constructing 3D software models.
Another interesting connection to your post is our existing
Digital Arts and Sciences curricula, which blends computing
and the arts. both Art and Computer Science offer undergrad
and graduate degrees. See
for the CISE degrees and
for the ART degrees.
Thanks for the information metaphorz. Will you be attending SIGGRAPH this summer? I'd be really interested in talking about this with you.
Good news! Well, mostly. The proposal I submitted has been accepted, with a few stipulations. Basically, the jury didn't think it warranted a full panel session, so instead the submission was accepted as a QuickTake (a ten minute presentation of the idea). The jury also said they thought it would work better as a paper and that it can and should be submitted for that next year.
The tentative schedule time for it is on Thursday in a 1:45-3:30 time block. Everyone who's gonna be there (San Diego) should show up.
It may no be what was asked for, but at least it's something.