upcoming "Semester in Alternate Realities" course (spring 2019)

Together with my col­league Patrick Pennefather we’re cur­rently design­ing and get­ting ready to co-teach a brand-new 15-credit course enti­tled “Semester in Alternate Realities”

In this project-based course, par­tic­i­pants will be chal­lenged to develop solu­tions using tech­nolo­gies such as VR (e.g., Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) and immer­sive multi-modal media instal­la­tions. In addi­tion to focus­ing on the co-construction of dig­i­tal pro­to­types afford­ing mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences in “alter­nate real­i­ties”, our objec­tive is to stim­u­late doc­u­mented reflec­tion and dis­cus­sion through­out the process. Participants can expect to work col­lab­o­ra­tively, be matched accord­ing to the skills they bring, and be pro­vided time and resources to learn new tech­niques and approaches, soft– and hard skills, and processes to con­duct user research. Participants will get the oppor­tu­nity to reflect on future tech­nolo­gies and their poten­tial impact on the world, and improve their pre­sen­ta­tion skills and pub­licly show­case their projects. To incor­po­rate diverse per­spec­tives, stu­dents from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines are invited to apply and, in their appli­ca­tion, argue how they could con­tribute to the course and the co-construction of team projects(application dead­line: end of October 2018).

This semester’s design chal­lenge is “cre­at­ing for good”: Use alter­nate real­i­ties tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies, guid­ing the­o­ret­i­cal frame­works, and appro­pri­ate processes, project man­age­ment and col­lab­o­ra­tion approaches to iter­a­tively ideate, design, pro­to­type, and eval­u­ate an inter­ac­tive alter­nate real­i­ties expe­ri­ence that affords mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences for the bet­ter­ment of human­ity and/or our planet.

To give you an idea what projects might look like, view the VR project videos or this AWE video from pre­vi­ous stu­dent teams in courses that Bernhard and Patrick have taught. There is increas­ing evi­dence that the immer­sive nature of VR makes it a pow­er­ful medium for “doing good,” and it is par­tic­u­larly well-suited for help­ing people develop com­pas­sion and empa­thy. In this course, we will explore the poten­tial of doing good using alter­nate real­i­ties (that are boom­ing around the world and par­tic­u­larly in Vancouver)

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