Tomorrow’s Master of Digital Media summer camp opens teenagers’ minds to a world of possibilities

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      (This story is sponsored by the .)

      The Centre for Digital Media’s two-week, intensive summer camp for teenagers has a futuristic name.

      Called , it suggests that those who enroll will eventually become technological wizards. 

      But in truth, according to program coordinator and faculty Jason Lee Elliott, these youths have already accomplished some amazing feats in the program over the past three years.

      One team created a virtual-reality video game using the HTC Vive. It included battles featuring bows and arrows.

      Centre for Digital Media

      “This was from students who had never touched any of this technology, so it was pretty impressive,” Elliott recalls. “We had another group a while ago that did an app for reporting crimes directly to police. You could take a photo and they would put in geo-location data.”

      Tomorrow’s Master of Digital Media program is a boiled-down, young persons’ version of the Vancouver graduate school’s highly regarded Master of Digital Media program.

      The adult program advances graduate students’ digital literacy as they learn how to create products and services that solve problems. It also promotes teamwork, design processes, self-awareness, time management, and how to articulate ideas.

      Centre for Digital Media

      This year’s program runs Monday to Friday over two weeks from July 9 to July 20 at the Centre for Digital Media (685 Great Northern Way).  The school was founded in 2007 and is a partnership of UBC, SFU, BCIT, and Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

      Up to 20 students between Grades 9 and 12 are accepted in the Tomorrow’s Master of Digital Media program. Each applicant must provide a letter of intent demonstrating they have the proper skill set and objectives to fit in with the group.

      “The first week, we focus primarily on building up foundational skills,” Elliott says. “Each day, we’re going to show them a different type of software and what can be made out of it.”

      Centre for Digital Media

      Elliott likes focusing on open-source, free software so the students, regardless of their family incomes, can continue pursuing their passion after leaving the program.

      In the first week the teenagers also learn technical and artistic skills from Elliott, as well as from Centre for Digital Media graduate students who serve as mentors.

      Centre for Digital Media

      The teenagers are also presented with specific problems, like how to make a game like Mario but with a character that jumps much more quickly.  In addition, they learn how to scope a project so that it can be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

      These exercises help build trust, which is critical for them in the second week as they break out into groups of three to five people.

      That’s when these teams decide what they would like to build, whether it’s a video game, an app, or a virtual-reality project.

      “At times, we’ll pull them away from their work, get them to discuss what problems they’re having, and how to solve those problems,” Elliott says.

      So in fact, the Tomorrow’s Master of Digital Media program is not just a game-making or app-creation exercise; it also revolves around enhancing teenagers’ cognitive skills and helping them learn to work harmoniously in teams.

      Centre for Digital Media

      “You’re not a one-man show,” Elliott emphasizes. “We teach how you can utilize other people to build a singular vision and how to align with someone else’s vision as well.”

      At the end of the two-week program, there’s a graduation ceremony, which parents can attend.

      about Tomorrow’s Master of Digital Media program. It will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 19 at the Centre for Digital Media (685 Great Northern Way). The nearest SkyTrain station is VCC-Clark.