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GDC + VRDC 2019 Session Scheduler

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Teaching Modern Graphics: A Shader-First Approach

Sajid Farooq  (Professor, Champlain College)

Location: Room 2014, West Hall

Date: Tuesday, March 19

Time: 2:10 pm - 2:40 pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Summits - Get your pass now!

Topic: Educators Summit

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

There has been a shift in graphics programming from the CPU to the GPU over the last two decades. Coding went from serial to parallel. For educators in the field, teaching has not been updated to reflect this massive change in landscape. Most syllabi still treat shaders as a "latch-on" to be taught as a more advanced topic.

Having identified common conceptual roadblocks encountered with graphics programming, this talk presents "a shader-first approach" that puts shaders at the heart of teaching graphics from the ground-up. The talk proceeds to show how the methods can be applied to teaching in other domains as well.


Attendees will learn how a fundamental shift in the graphics landscape from CPUs to GPUs has impacted learning of new graphics concepts. It will advocate the need for an update in teaching styles for modern graphics. Attendees will be able to identify the concepts that new-comers find hard to grasp. They will learn a new approach to teaching graphics, dubbed the "shader-first" approach.

Intended Audience

This talk is primarily intended for people interested in teaching modern graphics through any medium: tutorials, books, lectures, blogs/vlogs, or presentations. A rudimentary familiarity with modern graphics is assumed.

The talk will also generalize the findings to be useful for those in other domains, such as Art, Game Design, or Math.