OCAD at Canada 3.0

How can OCAD fit into Canada’s digital future? President Sara Diamond is playing an important role in this revolution.

If you’re on Twitter, Facebook or just read blogs, you’re part of the second generation of the World Wide Web. The Web 2.0 is basically the movement away from static web pages to what we experience a lot of today – dynamic and shareable content and social networking.

How does OCAD fit into the Web 2.0, and how can the next generation of the Internet be useful to artists, designers and in business?

The future of the web is not only social networking; these new tools we use are also designed to facilitate creativity, information sharing, and most importantly, collaboration. Collaboration on design ideas, sharing works of art, opening up new platforms for creativ- ity and even new mediums – this is where OCAD students can strive.

I had the chance to attend Canada 3.0 Interactions, a conversation amongst some leaders in the design/web, business and education communities. It was held at a formal office building in the financial district of Toronto, at PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Director of Emerging Technologies of PricewaterhouseCoopers was the Keynote Speaker, followed by a Panel Discussion.

OCAD University President Sara Diamond was one of the three panelists. The discussion was designed to bring together Canada’s “leading thinkers on emerging trends and future opportunities” – which would make any OCAD student proud.

But why is it important for OCAD’s President to participate in something like Canada 3.0? Dr. Diamond explained that it is an important strategy session about the ways that digital culture, technology and infrastructure can be used to create a better society for all Canadians.

“These strategies have a direct bearing on OCAD’s future. My participation means that OCAD gets the benefit of shaping these strategies and know- ing others views.”, Dr. Diamond explained in an interview after the event.

Does Canada 3.0 mean anything to OCAD students specifically, you may ask?

“OCAD students should have the benefit of knowing what the future will bring to them as they continue their education and enter the research and professional world ahead.” As OCAD students, Dr. Diamond believes we should all “get the benefits from members of the OCAD community being part of the dialogue about Canada’s national digital strategy”, because it “profiles best practices in teaching and learning using digital tools, including in our fields of art, design and media.”

OCAD students can attend Canada 3.0 as volunteers or participants.

With all of this technology talk, many OCAD students may feel left-out because it may not be part of their program directly.

I asked the President Diamond if she feels certain students can easily be left out, curriculum-wise, when it comes to learning about technology and the Web 2.0 tools, and she confidently replied that even “art students should be at the cutting edge of learning about technology and Web 2.0 tools”.

Dr. Diamond explained that “Artists are natural tool makers adopters and adapters. Our role is to make sure that students have the access that they deserve to use these tools creatively. These do not substitute for other kinds of tools that artists use, these supplement.”

Canada 3.0 is very much about establishing a Canada’s national digital media action plan. What then, does OCAD’s president believe should be a key part in this plan? She notes that there is wide-ranging opinion on the topic, but points to the New Zealand strategy as an excellent model.

“I think the New Zealand vision can translates well to a Canadian context. It links health and sustainability with digital capacity. Think Aboriginal instead of Maori. It needs to include cultural diversity and using digital for better access to diversity. As well as broadband to all homes we need mobile infrastructure.”

I asked Dr. Diamond how both she and OCAD students can be part of the discussion to ensure Canada can not only compete, but also lead the world, in today’s new digital economy, and she explained that she is involved in various dialogues that are de-veloping strategy as well as Canada 3.0. Dr. Diamond is working on a strategy dialogue for the Banff Television and NextMedia Festival in June that will look at the strategy from the perspective of cultural producers. She also encouraged students to send their ideas to her directly.

Then, Dr. Diamond asked, “What about the possibility of OCAD having a forum on Canada’s Digital Strategy? Do you think students would be interested?” I would say yes.

President Diamond will be attending the main event, Canada 3.0 Forum May 10 and 11, 2010 in Stratford, Ontario to play a key part in shaping Canada’s digital media strategy. Canada 3.0 is a chance to influence our national digital media action plan and ensure Canada can not only compete, but also lead the world in today’s new digital economy.