Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Big Picture

Early on I introduced this blog and why I was writing it, but didn't say much about the overall plan of which my trip to the Netherlands was part. Here's a brief summary:

last fall I started organizing faculty that were interested in New/digital media to talk about possible projects and to write grants. We really got going on it in January and now we are really picking up steam (except of course the first grant was submitted in late April and the rest are underway, so we won't know about money until Late Sept., at the earliest). Money aside, we all felt that students really needed far more experience using and thinking about computer technology and the ways it has changed almost every aspect of our culture. We want them to gain the skills they really need for future employment, which now go beyond sending email and making powerpoint presentations, but most of all we want them to be active creators and users of digital technology, not just passive consumers.

So we decided to create a center through which to develop projects and programs, but interestingly, it's hard to get money for a center and easier to get it for projects, so we are just trying to do the projects and say they are through the center so that at first it will just exist in name. Hopefully, if the projects and programs succeed, we will be able to convince our administration to give us structural support (meaning space and money) so that someday the center will exist as a physical reality and a line in the base budget. Or maybe we'll make a space like Worm did (see my second entry on them) where almost everything is salvaged.

Anyway, we are working on the following projects:

  • Running a series of workshops for faculty who want to incorporate technology or teach about it in their classes. We have funding for the fall portion and are seeking funding for the spring to offer small stipends to 15 faculty who actually create new classes or course modules and to bring in some visiting speakers.

  • Connecting with local organizations such as the Turlock Library, the local schools, and the Arts Commission to run public programs for, students and teachers and the public. We've already got a letter of support from the Arts Commission.

  • Creating a new minor in Digital Media--We just submitted a letter of intent to the NSF for a grant in support of this. --If the minor proves popular, I imagine in 5 years or so we might propose a major.

  • Creating a new Interdisciplinary MA in Digital Media (or Technology, the title is still up in the air)

  • As part of the new MA, we are proposing an international collaboration with the Piet Zwart Institute Media Design MA in Rotterdam, NL. This would involve an optional exchange program for students that would allow them to receive a Joint MA from our programs. I have been communicating with the Director of the Program and met with him and the of Piet Zwart this month and they are enthusiastic. I also attended the first-year student exhibit and the graduation exhibit, and spoke at length with students and staff, besides looking at student papers, class syllabi, etc. We are developing a plan that will be part of the MA proposal.

  • We are planning to create a lost cost wireless mesh network in Turlock to provide cheap high-speed internet access. Lack of high-speed access is a nagging problem for many students and resident in the area and certainly would hinder our efforts to provide more educational and cultural material via the internet.

  • I am conducting a study of cultural and academic institutions organized around new/digital media which will lead in the near future to articles and conference presentations and ultimately to a book. This summer I conducted a series of interviews with some directors of these kinds of programs in the Netherlands and will be continuing these over the next few years. --A lot about these interviews are covered in earlier entries.

As we work on all of these we are applying for grant after grant and I'm writing a lot of them. If I combine all the proposals, I'll have a book-length text by December. Too bad they don't count as publications!

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