Cascade ACM SIGGRAPH

Tag: education

Summer 2010 News

by on Jul.02, 2010, under Newsletter

Why anyone interested in education should attend SIGGRAPH 2010
by Bev Standish

When I first heard of SIGGRAPH I pictured wonderful exhibits of software, graphics and animation.
I thought there would be wonderful opportunities to expand my skills in the digital arts and meet
fascinating people who were leaders in the industry.

The fact that SIGGRAPH showcases the best in computer animation, the latest in technology and
research, and hosts talks and panels presented by both up and coming and well established
academia and industry leaders is incredibly exciting. Any one of those elements would be
reason enough to attend SIGGRAPH 2010. But it turns out that’s not all SIGGRAPH has
to offer… especially for an educator. SIGGRAPH is a very special gathering of people from
all over the world: people who are outstanding researchers, artists, industry professionals,
representatives from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation,
educators from every level of academia, and government officials, who can come together to
discuss the future of education.

The future of education looks a bit grim these days. A Time Magazine report highlights some
disturbing facts: one million American students drop out of school every year—that’s one every
nine seconds!

SIGGRAPH 2010 offers some initiatives that can make a difference to education. This is not just a
conference for people who teach multimedia. It is a conference for those who use multimedia to
teach; who want to invent ways to use it to better education. SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on
Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques) 2010 will undoubtedly be the most thrilling place for
an educator, such as myself, to be. The opportunities for collaboration are phenomenal.

The Disney Learning Challenge is offering an exciting initiative based at SIGGRAPH 2010 that takes
my breath away. The goal of this group is to harness the potential of digital technologies and children’s
creativity to advance learning. George Leonard’s book “Education and Ecstasy,” profoundly claims that
learning can and should be fun; the Disney Learning Challenge does likewise, pinpointing my exact interest!

The Challenge will showcase entertaining interactive technology that will impart “Active Knowledge of
Learning Concepts.” The group is engaged in using the digital arts to teach different subjects such as
the solar system, coordinate geometry, rhythmic music, vocabulary, fractional quantities, habitats and
ecosystems, geometric transformations, revealing the rock cycle, and the use of simple machines using
the visual arts. The word synnamation has recently been used to describe animations that communicate
complex scientific and technological concepts to a variety of audiences. It sounds similar to what the
Disney Learning Challenge is proposing for ages 7-11. Although this initiative is directed at capturing
the creative potential of all students, imagine the impact that using digital technologies will have on
students who might be hard to reach otherwise. If students were having more fun in the education
system, perhaps the dropout rate would decrease dramatically.

The buzz word in education today is “immersion.” Using the visual arts in a way that incorporates
academic themes is right on target. The 3D animator of today must learn artistic principles but must
also learn how to simulate a multitude of real world properties. In short, the world of 3D animation
involves a total immersion into storytelling, math, science, physics, art and music; educators who wish
to inspire their students will delight in these engaging learning concepts. I can’t wait to share ideas
with attendees.

If this isn’t enough to excite you there also are Birds of a Feather (BOF) events: informal presentations,
discussions, and demonstrations for people who share interests, goals, technologies, environments, or
backgrounds. Birds of a Feather events are made possible through the conference, but are actually proposed and organized by SIGGRAPH 2010 attendees.

For educators looking to reach out into their local communities, Stephen Jacobs who is involved with
SIGKids pointed out a few sessions of interest: “This year we are offering an all day workshop [on] Wednesday for the local Girl Scouts. They have a badge called ‘Games for Life’ and we developed a
one-day workshop at RIT [Rochester Institute of Technology] to let them meet most of the requirements
in a day. We’re also running an early Tuesday AM “Train the Trainers” workshop for SIGGRAPH Attendees
or Volunteers who might want to run one in their local communities.”

There is also a Birds of a Feather event “Meeting for Parents and Troop Leaders” as a part of SIGKids.
This session is a Q & A about careers and education in the game industry. As Mr. Jacobs explained to me,
his first involvement with SIGGRAPH was in 1994 where he was “part of SIGKids and had a booth that
demonstrated a program we’d run in Rochester for English as a Second Language students to write ‘Books
Without Words’ on their computers and use a hypermedia authoring package to make an interactive version
as well.” It will be interesting to see what this group is up to this year.

In addition to the above, another BOF event is being presented by California Educators. This session
is for public and private school educators pre kindergarten to post graduate. They will welcome
professionals who currently work with schools or are interested in doing so.

The 20XX.EDU: Grand Challenges in Education (Part 1) panel will focus on the future of education
and how digital technologies can serve it. The discussion topics and questions are:

    • How can educational institutions take advantage of the increasing
    popularity and dissemination of these technologies?
    • How can individuals/institutions benefit from the massive increase
    in participatory and collaborative learning in our society?
    • What are the major challenges in education today, in the sciences
    and the humanities?
    • What are the new educational trends and paradigms for the new,
    coming decades?
    • What kind of new learning contexts can be created outside of the
    traditional institutions?

The panel that is asking these questions is made up of a diverse group of outstanding researchers
and artists, academy and industry professionals, educators, and government officials. This group
meets Wednesday July 28th from 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM. Fortunately, there is also the 20XX.EDU:
Grand Challenges in Education (Part 2) which meets from 10:30 to 12:15pm to continue this
important conversation.

Hopefully educators can come together with these exciting SIGGRAPH groups to explore the future
of education, share ideas and learn from different perspectives. Hope to see you there

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