Modern education demands new ways of teaching — especially in the arts and sciences. California Institute of the Arts has launched a first-of-its kind digital classroom designed specifically to teach computer science to non-traditional students in the arts and humanities — and in the process, created a prototype for new forms of collaborative learning across the disciplines. The class, Introduction to Programming for Digital Artists, combines an arts-based approach with the unique qualities of the N2N classroom. Together, the class and digital platform forecast future directions in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curricula.
Most commonly, media education is taught in a “one-to-many” fashion, with instructors conveying information to students working on individual laptops. CalArts’ N2N “many-to-many” classroom is configured to give each student immediate sonic and visual access to everyone in the room. Student workstations consist of a laptop, hemispherical speaker array, controllers for music making, and a large-scale digital display. Creating a collaborative environment, the stations are arranged in a circle so that students can observe each other’s work on the large-scale screens.
N2N technology opens the way for a variety of new teaching methodologies in which each student plays a vital role in the development of the learning process and outcome. In the first semester of, Introduction to Programming for Digital Artists novice computer science students, working in the N2N classroom are introduced to object-oriented computer music programming languages — and will use their newly acquired skills to create musical compositions.
“By enabling students to actively engage with potentially all other students at every stage of learning, and by developing a dedicated curriculum for this type of classroom, learning processes will not only be enriched and accelerated, but fundamentally transformed,” said Ajay Kapur, Associate Dean for Research and Development in Digital Arts, and Director of the Music Technology: Interaction, Intelligence and Design at CalArts.
As artists of all disciplines—visual artists, performing artists and musicians—use technology in their creative practice, it becomes increasingly important to provide educational opportunities that encourage interaction between the arts and science. By offering rigorous STEM courses taught in a creative, participatory manner made possible by the N2N classroom, CalArts’ takes a leading role in the future of STEM education.
The N2N, digital platform was developed by Ajay Kapur at CalArts and Ge Wang, Assistant Professor at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University. The schools will remotely network to bring faculty and students from both institutions together for collaborative education and projects.