Reality redefined in design course

This year, California Baptist University received its first taste of emerging technologies education.

Emerging technologies are a collection of futuristic possibilities that blurs the line between the real world and virtual reality.

The College of Architecture, Visual Arts and Design began the first of hopefully many experimental classes this semester, a course vaguely titled GDM 348, MySQL and PHP.

Dr. Brad Biermann, adjunct professor at CBU, teaches the course, which is unofficially referred to as the x-lab.

“X-lab just means that it’s open to experiment with various emerging technologies,” Biermann said. “I didn’t want to tie the course to just a particular software.”

Within the x-lab class, students are split into two groups. One focuses on augmented reality, while the other focuses on virtual reality. The augmented reality group is designing a mural that, when scanned with a smartphone app, will animate and come to life.

The virtual reality group is designing a concept video using the program Cinema 4D that will propose the idea for a virtual Candyland game geared toward children who can’t move, but are capable of playing the game using virtual headsets.

The course title, PHP, stands for philosophy, a component that increases the distinctiveness of the class.

“Philosophy is applied to the course because students, when building technology, need to critically consider the concepts behind their work as technology possesses great potential to disrupt both economic models and, more importantly, contemporary systems of thought,” Biermann said.

The x-lab course takes the concept of using emerging technologies to go beyond the expectation of becoming entertainment, and instead be used to help educate people and better society. The class is based on more than just the technology being used.

“We have done a lot of philosophical stuff, like what our philosophy of technology is and our generation being the last of the analog years,” said Sal Castrejon, senior graphic design major.

Castrejon first heard about the class during a preview last fall and said he was excited to hear the class would be offered in the spring.

Castrejon said the course is helping the students to question what technology can be used for and transform that into their work.

“It’s not just about the product and about consumption,” Biermann said. “I think it’s more about understanding social change, social impact, what you find meaningful and then using technology and the service of ideas as opposed to the other way around.”

About Courtney Coleman

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