Designing the Perfect Video Conference Room with the End Users in Mind: Telepresence without the High Cost

Videoconferencing has long had a bad reputation as an ineffective means of communication, including distance learning in the education field. We break those barriers by introducing the design elements and ideas that were implemented at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to design and construct a videoconferencing room that simulates a telepresence environment. The heart of the design incorporates certain elements to make the far-end participants feel as life-like as possible for the local participants, and in the process making communication more effective. There are several telepresence systems and full-fledged room installations on the market that are extremely expensive and essentially out of reach for many schools, universities, businesses, and other organizations. Our solution eliminates the need for hiring expensive consultants and audio-visual specialists and instead focuses on very simple design elements that will simulate a high-end telepresence experience for users, all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional video conference room. Since the design and construction of this room at UTEP, students, faculty, staff, and other community members have experienced a much richer experience for meetings, distance classes, interviews, and other similar events.

Tech in Europe: Cultural Reboot

The integration of technology in culture and art in Europe is transformational. Technology is changing the social fabric of cities in Central Europe, like the existential movements of the past have done. Cities like Vienna, Prague, Linz, and Berlin are experiencing a socio-cultural renaissance because of technology. In Prague, the philosophy of Franz Kafka is having significant impact on society in the digital age. Kafka’s existentialism is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. Kafka said, “The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual.”1 Kafka’s existentialism is relevant, from the perspective of social anthropology, to understanding digital media’s transformative effect on the culture of Prague today. In Vienna, the Viennese aim to create things that are different, weird, and strange—and they are doing it with digital media in the twenty-first century. Vienna is currently a hotbed of innovative applications of digital media in art. In Vienna, there is a new kind of modernism, a digital modernism. In Berlin, though the scars from Cold War division remain today, there is remarkable resiliency in the city and a plan to make it a leader in digital media in Europe, and perhaps around the world. Digital media is many things in Berlin. It is technology, art, commerce, education, and lifestyle. Digital media is bringing together high society and bohemianism, in an effort to create a new economy. German existentialist Friedrich Nietzche advocated for cultural rebirth in Europe. Europe is experiencing such a rebirth with digital media: creating artistic and social cultures that are wildly interesting and progressive and have technology integrated in them.

Teaching Creative Critical Action beyond Economy in the Art of Techno-ecology: Approaches for Integrating Technology Ethics with STEM Art Education

This paper discusses creative approaches for encouraging technology ethics in STEM classes using immersive project-based art practice. As global economies emerge, our post-Google society is facing human impacted climate change, and it is critical that we radically change the face of our education system and eventually our economies, to include a broader scope of innovation. Art and diversity need to be included in STEM education to foster a sustainable community of ethical technologists who create solutions for humans beyond industry. When exploring STEM through immersive project-based art, students gain valuable skills for using and working with complex STEM concepts, while integrating ethical, and critical thinking skills. STEM acquired skills through artistic inquiry further the ability of users and creators to make educated decisions about innovative processes, products, or services; created or consumed. This paper presents three approaches for teaching STEM subject using immersive project-based art methods.