Introduction of om nium the first global virtual design education
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Introduction of “Om’nium” The first global virtual design education. W enzhi Chen February 19, 2003. Background. The Om'nium VDS was initiated early in '99 by Australian University of New South Wales Fine art lecturer Rick Bennett.

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Introduction of om nium the first global virtual design education

Introduction of “Om’nium”The first global virtual design education

Wenzhi Chen

February 19, 2003



The Om'nium VDS was initiated early in '99 by Australian University of New South Wales Fine art lecturer Rick Bennett.

He saw the project as more that just another distance learning package - "It is a pilot study to explore a radical and future alternative for contemporary tertiary design students. I'm very conscious there are wonderful things going on in design at the moment and I'm quite conscious education is slipping more and more out of touch, in terms of keeping up with technology, through budget cuts... this was a way of looking to the future of how universities might have to start looking if they are to find a new way of educating."

Creative Ireland []

Working with the internet

Working with the Internet

  • who are our 'contemporary students' and to what extent do they use the internet ?

  • why do they use the internet, how do they interact with it and what is its appeal?

  • how have previous on-line education programs been facilitated?

Why do students use the internet and what are its appealing features

Why do students use the Internet and what are its appealing features ?

  • anonymity / removal of inhibitions

  • speed of communication - email / ICQ ( 'I seek you') chat rooms

  • flexibility to avoid restrictions of time/place etc…

  • multi call facility (the internet is never engaged)

  • ability to work in real time and stored time (synchronous / asynchronous)

  • never ending exploration potential (data base)

  • option to work in a variety of formats (text / movies / still images / sound)

  • the entertaining / enjoyable context

  • economical and sustainable to the environment

  • the excitement of working with innovation and the anticipation of what is still to come

Goals benefits within online

Goals & Benefits within Online

  • Research Goals

    • Optimizing the use of new media for remote design collaboration

    • Understanding how to facilitate groups using telecommunication tools

  • Teaching Goals

    • Design: Sharing and comparing design methods

    • Technology: Working together to make the tools perform

    • Culture: Opening eyes to different ways of working together.

  • Learning Benefits

    • Motivation of mysterious foreign partners

    • New role for students as readers, editors

    • Fairness of more tutors, anonymous presentation, peer feedback - -

      Department of Architecture, University of Oregon, USA



  • In essence Om'nium [vds], concerned two issues:

  • 'design process and dialogue': an exploration into the generation of ideas and concepts collaboratively and digitally across distance.

    • In order to try to facilitate and explore a collaborative on-line design process, the work of the project:

      • was un-prescribed and un-predetermined (yet not briefed so as to be confusingly ambiguous)

      • involved a strong interactive component;

      • utilised a cross-disciplinary approach to designing;

      • encouraged collaboration rather than competition.

  • a possible future education option: applying such process within a 'revolutionary framework’ using cyberspace for its classrooms or studios.

Interface structure

Interface _ structure

The Design studio metaphor thus provided students quite literally with:

  • 'easels' - for working on concepts and visuals/sound

  • 'walls' - for 'pinning up' work completed collaboratively, for critique by peers, tutors and public

  • 'chat rooms' - for synchronous conversations between group colleagues, peers and tutors

  • 'message boards' - for asynchronous conversations with peers, tutors and public

  • 'exhibition areas' - for display of final resolved concepts, accessible to anyone via the world wide web

Virtual studio rooms

Virtual studio rooms

  • Each of the working groups had all the above features offered to them within a series of'virtual studio rooms' (VSR's):

    • totally private working areas (VSR1),

    • tutor consultation areas (VSR2),

    • peer review forums (VSR3)

    • general worldwide web access locations (VSR's 4 & 5).

  • 'technical help forum' (THF):

    • chat rooms,

    • message boards,

    • 'frequently asked questions' (FAQ).

Process om nium vds 99

Process _ Om’nium [vds]99

  • The unraveling nature of the Om'nium [vds] brief encouraged the 'process dialogue' by identifying five stages over a seven week period:

  • Gathering (two weeks)

    • Initial conceptual investigations of three words (red, small, a car)

  • Identifying (one week)

    • Deciding as a group a specific interpretation of the main brief

  • Distilling (one week)

    • Breaking down ideas from the works produced in the gathering stage

  • Abstracting (two weeks)

    • Further selecting and rejecting elements from the distilling stage

  • Resolving - (one week)

    • Further abstraction and refinement to a point of final proposal and presentation.









The end thank you for your listening and suggestions

The EndThank You for your Listening and Suggestions

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