Like so many others around the world, Master of Digital Media students were faced with the COVID-19 crisis at the beginning of spring in Canada. The Centre for Digital Media officially transitioned to remote work mid-March, and MDM students have been continuing their coursework off campus.
Last month MDM students quickly pivoted from working physically together on campus and meeting clients face to face to working remotely and using online communication channels. As students continued to work and prepare their deliverables for their clients, one question remained—how would they present their final deliverables to the faculty and their class? Final presentations are usually done at the end of the term in the classroom and are a chance for student project teams to present what they've worked on all semester to faculty and their student peers.
With remote working in place, the final presentations had to move online. Instead of live presentations, students recorded their presentations and we held a Zoom meeting with 12 presentations and 92 participants.
The final presentations were incredible and some of the best MDM students have ever presented. As MDM Director Richard Smith raved,
As I watched the MDM students’ final presentations, I was struck by the professionalism, the positive energy, and the passion that they brought to their work. In the midst of a pandemic, our students buckled down, organized new work practices, and delivered work that was both exciting and engaging. The delivery of that work took place in an unusual setting—everyone, audience and presenters, was online—but the results were nothing short of remarkable.
Not only that, but the presence of an online “back channel” (the chat room running alongside the video presentations) make for a friendly and familiar atmosphere that might have been even better than all sitting in one room, watching presenters and a screen."
In addition to the incredible presentations, the value in the type of work students are doing—especially now—was very apparent. One of the teams created an immersive VR training prototype for training emergency responders, with the goal of rewriting the future of public safety training.
Another team developed a website to make theatre production more accessible. It is a website for people with disabilities who can't physically be in the rehearsal space.
Both of these projects were focused on bringing better experiences to more people via remote channels.
As Richard Smith says
The coming months and years will be important ones for digital media. For a long time the things we’ve been working on [at the Centre for Digital Media] were around the edges of our society. They were add-ons, complements, or specialized aspects of education, culture, of media, of business. The games, the interactive experiences, the animations were delightful but not essential. People enjoyed some of it, ignored other parts. That has all changed."
As the summer semester begins online next month, we’re excited to see how MDM students continue to adapt to the new realities of remote work as well as how they contribute to the development of digital media and to shaping our future world.