Day Two: Learning No Fear in a Technological Age

The second day of Digifest 2019 proved to be filled to the brim with opportunity, with back-to-back talks, workshops, and performances located at Corus Quay and at George Brown College’s new Waterfront Campus in the Daniels – City of the Arts Building.

The day started with opening remarks that proceeded our first speaker and demo, Giacomo Gianella of Streamcolors, part of a company that explores creativity in their work by mixing art, design and technology.

Streamcolors exhibit at the Daniels Building – Stream Machine Virtual Design

 

Streamcolors exhibit at the Daniels building – A Streamcolors Odyssey: Shape, Time, Space and Color

 

Streamcolors has two installations featured at Digifest 2019, Stream Machine Virtual Design and A Streamcolors Odyssey: Shape, Time, Space and Color, which were both demonstrated by Giacomo during his talk on his work. While his work shows how art, design, and technology can blend together harmoniously to produce something exciting and new, a recurring theme of the day was how to approach some of the stigmas and growing fears when it comes to new technology.

Anthony Scavarelli’s Intro to WebVR workshop.

 

This truly was a day full of sharing and learning in digital creativity, however, as George Brown College’s Luigi Ferrara put it when he presented opening remarks to start Day One of Digifest 2019, the new technological strides we’re making nowadays might seem scary to some. The Educator’s Forum,  a new addition to the programming, highlighted the nation’s community of educators and innovators, who shared their best practices and diverse methods to support faculty and student engagement inside and outside of the classroom. In a day packed with endless opportunities to learn and hear new perspectives, the most interesting portion was the discussion generated by these presentations and workshops.

Anita Gandhi presenting her talk “Classroom Tech for Engaged Student Learning” to a full audience at the Educators Forum.

 

As the technological industry continues to grow and develop new technologies, which will inevitably change our everyday lives, it’s hard not to fight the human instinct of fear. We fear change and that’s no secret. When it comes to introducing new technologies such as VR and AR into a classroom setting, there’s bound to be a teacher or two worried about the outcome of change. When you think about it, fifty years ago students wrote all of their work in notebooks, handing in pages and pages of essay that were written in hand. Now, students are expected to hand in their work printed with specific margins, fonts, and formatting. Computers are being readily integrated into the classroom to a point where slides and projections are becoming more essential to a student’s learning. However, when it comes to newer technologies such as artificial intelligence or virtual reality, teachers are learning how to deal with constant change in the way we teach younger generations.

 

Something brought up in Hosni Zaouali’s talk on A.I. prompted discussion on how this new discipline could be perceived as a disruption, including when it comes to our approach to language learning. Hosni acknowledged the growing fears of teachers, addressing audience questions throughout his talk, promoting constant discussion when it comes to this topic.

 

An audience member asks a question during the Educators Forum.

 

When one audience member introduced herself and her background, as a mature student who returned to school years later who had to learn to use new technologies in the classroom, she discussed her work with teachers around her own age who all share this fear. She posed the question: what can she tell these teachers that might quell their fear? Hosni put it simply; it’s hard to get rid of your own fear but you can teach someone else to have none.

 

Julie Smithson presenting her talk “Best Practices for VR Education 2019” at the Educators Forum.

 

Learning to have no fear in this age of new technological advances seems to be the key to growth when it comes to advancing educational practices. We’ve seen over the years that technology has actually proven to enhance the classroom experience, yet it’s not without its faults. Education is changing to be a collaborative and immersive experience, opposed to the traditional classrooms of fifty years ago.

 

A pivotal moment during The Chimera Project’s performance of Bears, Starts and Trees.

 

Halfway through Day Two, we were treated to a fusion performance from the Chimera Project, mixing the genres of ballet with traditional hoop dance. “Bears Stars and Trees” is a dance piece that’s the result of a unique collaboration between choreographer Malgorzata Nowacka, with artistic advisor Arik Pipestem from the Tsuu t’ina Nation and Cree Elder and Chancellor of Algoma University, Shirley Horn. The dance followed a story told through both ancient and western movement, set to a pulsating music score and gritty projected landscape. This performance was a perfect example of how blending different disciplines can create a well-rounded experience.

 

Day Two of Digifest 2019 concluded with a special book launch at George Brown College’s School of Design’s new campus in the Daniels Waterfront – City of the Arts Building. The Full Stack Web App Playbook Launch by Tom Barker provides digital transformation strategies, design and tech skills to create responsive Websites, progressive Web Apps and full stack solutions to turbocharge your enterprise to beat the competition. Tom Barker presented a talk along with his launch, with refreshments and a cake replica of his new book. He acknowledged that despite new and developing technologies, often most Millennials don’t truly understand how to use tech. He discussed the future of digital and educational fields, reflecting on what he believed were the best ways to teach the next generation of digital natives and how to ensure they are successful in their careers.

Julia Krolik & Owen Fernley presenting their talk “The JPEG is dead!”

 

While fear might be something that it is always present with change, it’s comforting to know there’s a whole world of people out there working towards breaking down stigmas. Educators in the technological industry are moving towards bridging the gap, making the concept of ‘new’ seem less scary when it comes to integrating advancements of technology in our everyday lives. It isn’t exactly about learning to have no fear, it’s about learning to trust that you can be brave.

– Araceli Ferrara, Guest Blogger
Find her on IG here.

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