Michael Wagner is the Department Head of the Digital Media Department at the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. In this capacity he leads one of the top ranked game design programs in the United States. His research interests revolve around the fundamental principles of serious game design, particularly with respect to games for education. More recently, he started to explore the principles of immersive audio production within the context of game design and development.
The Inverted Gaming Degree Program – Re-envisioning Game Design Education in the Era of Social Distancing
FROG 2020 – Short Talk
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has forced most University into a prolonged remote instructional mode. One unintended consequence of this move to remote instruction is that it has proven that online driven education is a viable alternative to traditional models in higher education. This development questions traditional business models of campus universities that rely heavily on the ability to provide a rich educational on-campus experience to students as well as faculty and staff, a problem that is particularly relevant in the area of game design education as well as design education in general. This talk proposes a solution for this problem by developing a framework that separates formal and informal educational activities of campus-based game design degree programs which can be performed in an online or remote mode from those which cannot. The result is an educational approach that is not only more resilient towards emergencies or catastrophes such as a global pandemic, but is also more efficient and flexible as it opens up possibilities that have not yet been accessible within a traditional educational face to face environment. These include opportunities for low residency instruction or the integration of remote expert instructors into the on-campus learning experience. As a practical example, the paper describes out how this model is currently being implemented within the Department of Digital Media at the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The department is home to several well-established undergraduate and graduate programs, including a top ranked game design program, that rely on a number of instructional and research labs with state of the art technology. By inverting entire programs instead of only individual classes, we are able to utilize the advantages of remote instruction while simultaneously maintaining a rich educational on-site experience that gives students access to technologies that would otherwise not be accessible to them.