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Co-teaching the IDEA-X Program with MDM Student Thomas Petitjean

Sep 26, 2017 By Chris Sroka

Teaching Digital Media is a new elective offered at the CDM when taking the Master of Digital Media program. The goal of the course is to provide fundamentals for using curriculum to teach digital media while helping the students develop a framwork for understanding themselves as a teacher and provide them with an understanding of what teaching digital media entails. The students who take the elective are then offered positions as Instructional Assistants for the following semester at the MDM. Thomas Petitjean is one of these students who then went on to help instruct another one of CDM's programs, IDEA-X. This is his experience as a first time instructional assistant.  

Aside from its Master’s program, the Centre for Digital Media offers a month-long program called IDEA-X. It was designed to give international students a first taste of the digital media world. Led by Bill Zhao (MDM alumni), this program allows students to try out the latest digital media tools and gives them the opportunity to develop key competencies such as collaborative design, pitching, rapid prototyping… and more.

IDEA-X is a one-month taste of what the Master of Digital Media program is like and is a unique learning experience in Vancouver.” (Centre for Digital Media)

On August 8th, 2017, a new session of the IDEA-X program began. The CDM offered me the opportunity to teach part of the curriculum alongside Al Sinoy. In addition to facilitating most of the classes, I had the chance to teach them the basics of agile and scrum in digital media.

Meet & Greet

IDEA-X Meet & Greet / August 8th, 2017

The Program

  • Week 1: orientation, team building, group exercises, OAARs, Unity workshop, and design jam
  • Week 2: demo of design jam prototypes, problem definition, vision statement, user-centered design, agile & scrum workshops, production tools, pitching
  • Week 3 & 4: project time

My Contribution

Here are the different parts of the program I had the chance to facilitate/teach:

Agile: the philosophy, the implications and benefits of agile in prototyping, team management and software development.
Scrum: the framework (sprint planning, review, retrospective), the roles (SM, PO, dev team), the pros and cons
User-centered design: problem definition, vision statement, mission statement, persona, “day in the life”
User testing: OARRS (Objective, Agenda, Roles, Rules)

Students in Action

Vision statement

Coming up with vision statements for our students’ ideas was challenging; However, I believe it truly helped them to perfect their ideas and come up with good differentiating strategies. It was also a way for us (teachers) to go back to the persona and evaluate their idea through the perspective of the end user.

Team prioritization

The picture above was taken during an ‘ideation workshop’. We asked the students to start thinking about their persona and their ‘typical day’. They came up with a series of verbs and posted them in chronological order – from early morning to bedtime (see yellow post-its). We then asked them to come with ideas/features to meet those needs. Example: Persona A wants to be able to have lunch at midday (verb = have lunch). In this case, a feature could be a restaurant.

I found that dissociating the persona’s needs from features was very useful as people tend to jump to ideas straight away while ignoring the problem at hand.

Lo-fi prototypes

The picture above was taken during our “Lego4Scrum” workshop (originally designed by Al Sinoy). The team was asked to define their dream amusement park and was then asked to build it in a series of 7 sprints. The main takeaways for them were: the roles of Scrum Master and Product Owner, velocity tracking, the concept of ‘fidelity’, MVP, and ‘nice-to-have’ features.


My Takeaways

  • This was great for a first teaching experience. Revisiting the material I was given during my master’s program and teaching it in a concise and digestible way was a great way to internalize it. I even found myself questioning what I had been doing in my 3rd term at the CDM.
  • I found that the best way to teach students a new tool is to make them use it as soon as possible. Practice always wins over theory in this kind of environment.
  • Doing a short recap/retro after each activity is necessary to help students understand the material. It was fairly easy to tell if they got the message when hearing them share their takeaways.

Written by Thomas Petitjean, connect with him on LinkedIn. Learn more about the IDEA-X Program.