This is a continuation of Mzwa Shongwe’s experience in the Master of Digital Media program at Centre for Digital Media. Read Part 1 here.
Written by Mzwakithi Shongwe
Joining the 16th cohort of the Master of Digital Media (MDM) program remotely in the Fall 2021 term, and in-person for Spring and Summer 2022 terms proved to be a rigorous time filled with many challenges and a merchant ship’s worth of lessons and treasures.
I’ll cut to the chase – for someone interested in B2B SaaS and web-based technologies, I was out of my depth at the MDM given most of the cohort’s strong game-based industry experience. I had to quickly get up to speed on understanding the dynamics in the Vancouver and the wider North American game industries: the latest trends, project pipelines, working norms, and foundational techniques in interaction design. My courses for the first term, including the required “Game Design” class by Pre-MDM and MDM faculty Jason Lee Elliott, went a long way to equipping me with required skillset to succeed in the client-facing projects of the spring and summer term.
However, the largest part of my learning came in the spring and summer terms, as the cohort moved into completing project-based work for industry clients. I was the project manager for a team that worked with Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) to build a virtual reality-based tool to train police recruits responding to an active shooter scenario. Over the two terms, I collaborated with top-notch Unity developers, 3D artists, game designers, UX/UI researchers, and audio specialists to help turn this client ask into a reality. I learned about version control, designing immersive audio soundscapes, and putting together quality UX questions. Everyone on the team, myself included, took on multiple roles throughout the project. In the end, we delivered work we were immensely proud of, and we hope it will be used to train future police recruits at JIBC.
The MDM program provides students with ample opportunities to collaborate, create, and learn by producing novel digital artifacts they otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to pursue.
My MDM experience taught me learn a stupendous number of new skills and techniques that I have transferred into work within the ever-evolving technology sector. In a world where so much is yet to be created, I’m grateful I have the knowledge to lead and get technical with a new team in a new technology space, and play my part in helping to deliver a quality product and experience.
This fall, I joined IT Glue, a B2B SaaS that builds documentation software for managed services partners (MSPs), as a Product Owner (this video explains IT Glue well). The MDM network was instrumental in introducing me to this work, and my experiences during the MDM program are already paying dividends as I pursue a career in technology.