The Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication (MBRSC) of the American University in Dubai (AUD) in collaboration with the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California (USC) is currently offering AUD students a course through the university’s Global Classroom, a novel virtual lecture hall with the custom-built Cisco TelePresence 3210 technology. This is a first in the Middle East. Dr. Carol Moufarrej, Associate Dean of MBRSC, expressed: “TelePresence is giving our students the opportunity to interact and connect with the students abroad allowing them to share information, news and experiences spontaneously. The technology is opening a new dimension of learning and collaborating between students and professors on a global level; something that isn’t possible in the traditional classroom.”
Broadcasting live from Los Angeles, the course “Introduction to Interactive Entertainment” – offered by the USC School of Cinematic Arts, is taught via TelePresence to 19 AUD MBRSC students by Assistant Professor of the Practice at USC, Mr. William Huber. The class provides an understanding of the origins of video games and the various genres and aims at developing the students’ critical mind toward understanding and interpreting video games.
“The interaction between me and the students via TelePresence is in some ways better. […] I feel more comfortable calling out students from here,” explains Prof. Huber about teaching in this setting. “Where I teach at USC, I stand on a stage and I feel more remote. TelePresence does have a feeling of a seminar, I feel I can look at the students directly and see exactly what they are doing. When we took a quiz last time I had a fantastic view, I could see who was working and who wasn’t finished, which is something I might not actually see in an actual lecture space. Here I am more focused; I think the point of view is different and the audio supports it very well.”
“I am not familiar with video games which is why I wanted to get to know this new medium and feel this technology since the way it is done is beautiful. The Global Classroom is very sophisticated, you can interact very easily with the professor, and it is a great and exciting experience,” said one of the attendees Shuruk Abdo, Digital Production and Storytelling (DPST) major Senior Student.
“I was hesitating to take the class at first as I thought it would be hard to communicate, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. Taking a class from L.A. here in Dubai is very impressive. AUD has done a great job by introducing this technology, and I am looking forward to continue the class!” added Shuruk.
Prof. Huber was also uncertain at using the Global Classroom to give his course, he says “I was somewhat skeptical at this technology at first; I do not think that technology solves all the problems of education and sometimes it makes things worse or not work better, but in this case I am very impressed.”
On attending the class, Hussein Alatoli, another DPST Senior Student, shared, “TelePresence surprisingly feels more real than when the professor is physically next to you. We interact with him better through dialogue and questions. The communication through this technology really impresses me for its very fast speed and I think that there will be many new opportunities in the future. We are looking forward to take more similar classes which are very exciting.”
MBRSC Student Farah El Sayegh commented: “I first thought that the Professor wouldn’t remember my name, but in fact it turned out that he gets to know each one of us especially through the video technology and via e-mails. We can even book an individual appointment with him via Skype so we could ask him questions and guide us throughout the course. I am always excited to come to this class; it is very motivational to keep communicating with the professor via TelePresence.”
The Cisco TelePresence is a high-technology audio-video conferencing facility that provides high-definition video, spatial audio, and a setup designed to link two physically separated rooms so they resemble a single conference room regardless of location.
Inaugurated in 2011, the Global Classroom at AUD is located in the university’s Student Center, with the three plasma displays, providing MBRSC students with access to professors, business leaders and guest lecturers located around the globe, thus extending the in-person classroom experience across campuses worldwide.
About Professor William Huber, Assistant Professor of the Practice, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California.
William Huber researches videogames and software-based media as cultural artifacts. Currently studying the role of software news methodologies within systems of software-based authorship, his past work includes studies of massively-multiplayer role-playing games as fictional spaces, horror games and the uncanny, aesthetic theory of Japanese videogames and spatiality in Japanese role-playing games.
At USC, he teaches courses on the history, theory and criticism of videogames and interactive entertainment. Before embarking on his career in the academy, Huber spent several years in the software industry supporting developers, designing and building business applications and training end-users. He is also a researcher in the Software Studies at Calit2 and the Center for Research in Computing in the Arts. He is a doctoral candidate at UC San Diego.
Source: School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile
Read the CTIN 309 | Introduction to Interactive Entertainment syllabus here.