With technology that was once the subject of science fiction now growing increasingly affordable, Collarts' Interior Design Program Leader Bruno Duval is looking for ways to bring it to the classroom. "It's not normal for you to be in the same room as your client anymore", he explains. "We're all growing increasingly more connected online, and the tools we have at our disposal to communicate are rapidly changing as well. It makes sense to learn on the same tools that you'll use in your job."
Bruno is in the process of implementing some exciting technology into the curriculum to help students develop better online communication tools and to develop their design process in line with the expectations of modern clients. Teleconferencing system Zoom, used by businesses all over the world for remote collaboration, is used to deliver lectures to enhance the learning experience for both students in the room and students online.
With camera systems installed in classrooms, teachers can share their workspace with students regardless of their location, and students can upload pictures of their work for feedback, blurring the lines between studying on-campus and online in the process. It's collaborative, interactive, and immersive — removing many of the obstructions faced in the past with delivering course content digitally.
"There's already an expectation in the industry that you'll be able to present to clients and coworkers when you're not able to share the same physical space. By implementing these technologies while teaching so that students feel comfortable using them when it comes time for them to present their work."
As early as the second trimester of the Interior Design course, on campus and remote students are grouped together for a team assignment, where they communicate and collaborate almost purely online. "You're not just learning how to design a space, you're learning how to be a productive team member and how to effectively convey ideas."
Another area of immense interest to Bruno is Virtual Reality. Technological advances like the Playstation VR and standalone headsets like the Oculus Go mean that the technology is more accessible to more people, meaning clients are beginning to expect interactive environments when you pitch to them. "It's also so much easier to convey the physicality of a space in virtual reality," says Bruno. "It makes you a better designer when you can very quickly and easily experience the physical space you're creating."
With VR equipment slowly propagating across each campus, Bruno is currently planning a campaign for raising awareness for the use of the technology not just in Interior Design, but across each area of study at Collarts. "If we have the tools available to us to facilitate the simple communication of complex concepts, why not use it?" As for the long term, he sees a future where eventually students will be able to attend a virtual classroom and work alongside their peers regardless of where they live. "That's a ways off," smiles Bruno, "but I'm very optimistic."