Tuesday, June 8, 2010

GRAND Research Network

Last week, I attended the first GRAND Annual Conference. I didn't really know what GRAND (Graphics, Animation, New Media) was, but I knew my supervisor was a network investigator on a few of its projects. I'm really glad I went; it turns out that this network is exactly up my alley, and I'm really excited to be a part of it!

As explained in the GRAND executive summary:
New Media, Animation, and Games -- these technologies are the building blocks of the Digital Age. The Science, Technology and Innovation Council report in 2008 recognized this as a priority research sub-area within Canada's Science and Technology Strategy. This application responds to the needs identified in that report. The GRAND NCE will undertake a comprehensive research program whose goal is to understand the underlying technologies and to make selective advances in a coordinated, multidisciplinary setting that lead to social, legal, economic, and cultural benefits for Canadians. ...

Benefits will be realized through creating new knowledge and technologies, training highly qualified personnel, creating wealth by exploiting the possibilities of New Media, Animation, and Games for economic growth, and improving the quality of life for Canadians. Technologies that improve healthcare, encourage sustainable lifestyles that honor and preserve the natural environment, and promote greater participation in public dialogue will be powerful benefits in the Digital Age.
GRAND is part of the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada.

Because I am interested in education, educational games, and augmented reality, I feel I fit in very well with this community. Some of the projects that really interest me are (in alphabetical order):
  • BELIEVE: This is about creating believable characters and stories in games. One of the first things that comes to mind for me is how to incorporate learning objectives into game stories in a way that's not terribly obvious or lame.

  • DIGLT: I don't know a lot about the actual happenings of this group (missed their project meeting), but it's all about digital games for learning and training. Pretty clear connection to my interests here.

  • GAMFIT: This project on using games for physical fitness just seems interesting to me in general, even if it's not super related to my research.

  • HLTHSIM: Hey look! Augmented reality! This one's for health care training. I should look into this one more.
Another really cool thing about the network (which for all I know could be standard, but I'm new to this) is the ability to have peers review papers and theses before submission, and the collaboration they are trying to foster between grad students. To explain the value of the latter, the organizers emphasized that this is the group of researchers in Canada in our field that we will theoretically be working with for many years. We have an opportunity to become friends and allies now so that whenever we need a favour, we know who to call (and we know who to say yes to when favours come calling). We have this powerful common ground now; all we have to say is "I'm from GRAND". For whatever reason, this excites me.

One last point to mention in this post (though there will be hopefully more to come)... At the beginning of the conference, it was mentioned that GRAND wants to or is getting involved with The Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative. This got me thinking. If I could plan my future precisely, I would be working at Carleton after I'm done my PhD. I'd definitely be teaching courses. I initially thought I'd be happiest as an instructor, but then something clicked. Why couldn't I be a professor whose research is all about science education, and creating/using educational technology? I suppose I have several years to figure it all out.

1 comments:

Jacob said...

Thanks for the tip on this! I'll be looking into it for sure.

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