Preparing students to change the world through design
Sheridan launches first bachelor's program in Interaction DesignFor Immediate Release: March 27, 2013
Sheridan College, already known for building the talent that put Ontario’s animation industry on the map, is launching Canada’s first Bachelor Degree in Interaction Design.
Imagining the Future
“Rapid advances in technology and digital media are giving us an unprecedented opportunity to create the future that we want to imagine,” observes Ronni Rosenberg, Dean the Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design. “But creating high-tech, high-touch solutions that can make the world a better place will take renaissance thinkers who can fuse digital tools, aesthetics, and design-thinking.”
Glimpses of the future are already evident in multi-touch tables, gesture-based computing, augmented reality, and wearable computers like Google glasses. According to the Canadian Interactive Alliance, Canada’s interactive media sector consisted of 2,960 digital media companies employing approximately 52,000 people in 2008. Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council predicts a shortage of computer programmers and interactive media developers through to 2016.
Empathy, reasoning and breaking convention
At the heart of interaction design is researching and understanding people’s behaviours to discover their unmet needs, which in turn reveal the ideas that help shape the future. “We need people who aren’t afraid to break with convention, and to remake things to function in a better, more interesting way,” says Associate Dean Donna Braggins. As such, Sheridan’s new degree will balance courses in human centered design, image creation and manipulation, research methods and interactive narrative, with a firm grounding in design and systems thinking, psychology, business practices and project management.
“Interaction designers need empathy – so they can imagine and understand how humans interact with their environment, as well as abstract reasoning – so they can appreciate disruptive thinking and connect ideas,” explains Ed Naus, a Sheridan College Professor who helped build the new program.
“Interaction designers are a bit like architects,” adds Ari Aronson, Founder and Executive Recruiter for Ari Agency Inc. and a member of the Program Advisory Committee for the degree. “They plan and design for how human beings will use physical and abstract spaces. Whether they work on a new office building or help re-design a company’s e-store, they improve and enhance the customer experience because they help people interact with their environments in a really intuitive way.”
What Sheridan Brings
While OCAD and Emily Carr offer similar specializations, Sheridan’s offering will be Canada’s first fully dedicated Bachelor degree in the field when it launches this September. “Our new Bachelor in Interaction Design will build on a rich, 40-year history of teaching design,” says Rosenberg. “The degree was developed with input from leaders in interactive technology such as Sapient, Critical Mass, T4G, and The Secret Location. Our first cohort of students will also complete multiple industry co-op placements before they graduate in 2017.”
Founded in 1967, Sheridan College’s Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design is the largest arts school in Canada. The wide range of programming – from animation to gaming, illustration to music theatre, and photography to crafts and design – results in a dynamic and stimulating learning environment.
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