Is it fate that the ETC Showcase was held on the same day as the workshop we were giving to the Teaching Artists at the MAKESHOP? We were wondering the same thing while drinking lots of caffeine to make it through the day. Showcase is essentially like the BVW festival (a fall semester event displaying the results of probably the ETC’s most stress-inducing yet very fun class, Building Virtual Worlds) but without the visiting friends and families. Some guests were alumni, some guests were industry professionals, and others were representatives of new companies the ETC was looking to connect with. They would tour the building and project rooms, eat good food, and try out what everyone built.
We had all decided early on that we were going to give a mini workshop during showcase to visitors who chose to come into our project room. We moved away from that idea because for events like the showcase, guests may or may not have the time necessary to sit and really try to understand a research heavy project. Instead we decided to have visitors sit down at our table and walk them through a brief overview of how the cards and model were structured and intended to work together.
This was an interesting process during the showcase for many reasons. Visitors were a bit confused at first because on first look, they could see that our tool kit was not digital or virtual like all the other projects were. Once we explained the challenge we were presented with (to help the MAKESHOP facilitate family unit learning), the confused frowns soon turned into excited smiles. This was a project that while it may not have anything to do with video games, virtual worlds, or film, they could all still see the value in it.
Those representing museums like The Andy Warhol Museum and other educational institutions were all on the consensus that our cards were a useful tool. Additionally, those who had makerspaces or maker-like-spaces in the museums they worked for, wanted a copy of the tool kit for themselves! Seeing our project get this much interest during the showcase was exciting for everyone on the team.
In addition to displaying our deliverable, we had set up a small “play” area with a toy displayed at the MAKESHOP. Adults found this an interesting toy that emphasized process and their kids enjoyed playing with it. We also displayed both our website and ground truth surveys on iPads to be browsed through and a running video stream of footage taken from our workshop earlier that day. This proved especially helpful in demonstrating that our cards opened up intense discussion and were well received by our client.
Did our project really impress industry professionals, alumni and perhaps potential ETC clients? We don’t know, but at least we feel like we proved that the ETC could do a research project of this capacity.
In setting up our room for the showcase, we focused on making it colorful and interactive. The toys we played with were spread throughout the room (including a block and joint system featured in the MAKESHOP) and digital content such as videos, photographs, our website, and our ground truth survey were displayed on screens. These we placed near the back of the room to spread visitors out so that they weren’t all crowded around our table where the cards and archetype model were showcased.