DMA Central


Virtual Teaching in our 2nd Renaissance

By Chris Platz, Lead 3d Game Art and Design Instructor, DMA @ Stanford University

After last week’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, I realized that we are indeed in a new Renaissance, and most of us don’t even know it. The current convergence of social networks, virtual worlds, and games is connecting people world wide faster, and in new ways that are mind boggling.

The research going on in the two departments I work in at Stanford has opened my eyes to many of these new paradigm shifts on the Web. The current group I am spending the most time with is the Stanford Humanities Lab

This is where society meets art, meets technology. Our new open source 3D virtual world platform Sirikata is being developed so that anyone can build a networked virtual environment, and use it for what ever they like.

The other research going on the the Computer Science Department, Graphics group, is also truly amazing. Tools that allow for anyone to build a great avatar will soon be available. A few Ph.D. students have a rendering system that rendered over 12 BILLION polygons realtime, and with 6 simultaneous users in that networked environment! Incredible advances.

What does all of this mean for me as an instructor? By next year we’ll have a virtual classroom environment in 3D, with people logged in from all over the world. Inside people will be able to upload their 3D models and textures directly from their favorite 3D package, and we’ll build worlds, games, whatever, together and be able to talk with Voip. All of this will happen with dynamic lighting.

This should all trickle down to K-12 education, and allow children to start building virtual environments to express themselves, learn, and communicate in such a manner that they will far surpass us old folks by the time I see them in my DMA students in college classrooms. They already know more than I do in many ways, and I love the collaborative learning that goes on when generations come together around new technologies.

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