Sarconi: Universities Should Adopt Experiential Media Courses

Microsoft recently announced a range of new products, including a new and improved Lumia phone, the Surface Pro 4, and the Surface Book, a laptop created to challenge Apple’s MacBook Pro.

While all three of these gadgets are indicative of Microsoft’s focus on hardware, none of them were as exciting as the company presenting HoloLens, its augmented reality device first announced in January.

Looking at a video on HoloLens, I had an irrational urge to drop out of college and do whatever I had to do to do it, make games for it or even just use it. Dropping out of school to get into a relatively new technology that is not near perfect may seem like a gross overreaction, but it is not.

Unlike the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, the HoloLens is not a virtual reality headset. On the contrary, it increases the eyesight of the user. This means that the user can change the world they live in. If you want an overhead TV screen, you have it. If you want to play a game of FIFA where the players and the pitch are on your dining room table, you can make it happen. If you are an engineer and want to visualize your designs in 3D, you can do that as well. You can do anything.


In an ideal world, I wouldn’t even have to drop out of school to participate. Rather than choosing one or the other, I should be able to choose both. Unfortunately, that’s not really an option at the moment. The next big media wave is taking place at companies ranging from Microsoft to Google to Hollywood studios, and yet, for the most part, colleges and universities are lagging behind.

Fortunately, Syracuse University is not one of them. A virtual reality course is taught this semester at the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications called Virtual Reality Storytelling. (Full disclosure: I’m following the course right now. It’s awesome.) Course teacher Dan Pacheco says demand for the course is high, and for good reason, it can make you stand out in an interview. ‘hiring.

“Just have a good understanding of [virtual reality], especially for communication students who wish to work in media, will be very marketable, ”said Pacheco. “All the major media companies are investing in virtual reality right now. “

Pacheco mentioned that he is also considering creating a certificate program at Newhouse – an example that other universities should follow. There are other experiential media courses out there, but right now it looks like it’s being billed as yet another fad.

But if this is only a passing trend, then why the most intelligent, the most profitable companies around the world investing in it? Why did Facebook spend $ 2 billion on Oculus Rift? These companies don’t just spend money to spend money. They do their homework and, for the most part, they make smart investments.

Technology is a fast paced world, I understand. But schools must do all they can to prepare their students for the future workplace, at all costs.

Paul Sarconi is a junior specialized in audiovisual and digital journalism. His column appears every week. He can be contacted at [email protected] and follow up on Twitter @paulsarconi.

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