Sheridan Professor Dan Zen Named As Finalist In 8th Annual Canadian New Media Awards


CNMA Educator of the Year Finalist

The industry’s most prominent advocates and entrepreneurs to be awarded on November 18th

Professor Dan Zen has been recognized as one of Canada’s new media leaders. Dan Zen is one of three finalists to be named “Educator of the Year” category of the 2008 Canadian New Media Awards (CNMA). A Canadian celebrity host will be joined by industry supporters on November 18, 2008 to celebrate and present 14 Pixel Awards at CiRCA in Toronto.


Inventor Dan Zen is a Professor and Industry Liaison for the Sheridan Interactive Multimedia one-year post-grad Program producing innovative graduates for the new media industry.

Dan Zen has been creating interactive multimedia since 1995 when he programmed the award winning Understanding McLuhan CD-ROM. He won the Canadian New Media Awards Programmer of the Year in 2002 for his site of social games, gadgets and communities at

Dan Zen continues to invent facebook applications, Adobe AIR features and tools such as Zen Mix, the vlogging tool for mixing video, pictures and interactive works with blend modes to make enhanced blog posts. Sci-fi stories told by people ages five to ninety-five, environmental messages such as Car Curling, and Psychedelic Dancing as Exercise making Dan Zen the number one psychedelic dancer in the world at are some of the features created using the Zen Mix tool.


Along with the basics, graduates should be taught how to produce culturally relevant projects at the forefront of technology. Over the summer, Dan Zen completely updated his curriculum to the new Adobe ActionScript 3 language. He created a compute spectrum class so learners could easily make use of new frequency analysis features to create visualizations affected by sound. He updated his industry-leading video motion cursor classes to let learners create Wii-like applications with just a Web cam and Flash CS3. He created the Falcon class to reduce fifteen complicated lines of code to just three so that design oriented learners could set up communication with databases and XML. He introduced PaperVision3D, APE Physics Engine, Adobe AIR and media server. These skills will keep the industry fresh and forward thinking.

To exemplify uses of the technology, Dan Zen provides his own work as well as student visits with multimedia pioneers such as Gesture Tek, mediated reality cyborg Steve Mann, award-winning David Rokeby, and visionary Bill Buxton.

Dan Zen scored a 94% in the college KPI (Key Performance Indicators) compared to the 76% average for the school of computing and 83% in the college as a whole. He won the ACAATO ETC Award for Innovative Teaching with Technology. He currently sits on the committee for assessing Sheridan’s learning management system and is preparing distance education curriculum for his program.

Dan Zen has encouraged his students to volunteer for FITC Flash and Design festival and many have gone on to take lead roles in production. Dan Zen regularly speaks at FITO the largest Flash user group where his topics range from Pecha Kucha talks on Focuso to representing education on industry panels. He judges for FITC and CNMA and prepared an interactive video installation for last year’s CNMA awards where a nerd sign (the event theme) followed people in the halls.

The blog that Dan Zen created and maintains consists of almost 100 posts about curriculum, student works, and industry events. These three example posts have had over a thousand views each: “Sample Flash AS3 Code to Help Designers and Developers Handle Data and Communication”, “Going From Flash ActionScript 3 to ActionScript 2”, “Examples of Adobe AIR Applications with ActionScript 3 Code Provided”. Posted student tutorial projects in Flash, AfterEffects and AIR have received over 10,000 industry views.

Following several student projects for the Government of Canada promoting Canadian Innovators, Dan Zen taught in China to maintain and bolster relationships in New Media between our countries. Sheridan Interactive Multimedia students and Dan Zen, on a voluntary basis, created a DVD for the Canadian Olympic Team of their training for the upcoming Olympic games. Dan Zen’s class regularly receives visits from the global new media community such as from Japan’s Osaka University of Electro Communications, the Arts Institute at Bournemouth in the UK and tours of Media from around the world reporting on the depth of the Canadian gaming industry.

The most important achievements can be measured by graduate success with Ryan Andal winning the Canadian New Media Programmer of the Year and John Iacoviello, the Flash Developer of the Year. Sheridan Interactive Multimedia grads infuse cultural establishments such as the ROM, TVO, CBC, CHUM, Globe and Mail, advertising agencies such as Fjord/Cossette where Jason Nussbaum is Technical Director and form integral parts of smaller interactive firms such as Indus Blue and Splash Works. Perhaps most rewarding of all is when the grads start their own companies like the three graduates who formed Jam3 a very successful up and coming interactive firm.



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One Response to “Sheridan Professor Dan Zen Named As Finalist In 8th Annual Canadian New Media Awards”

  1. Carlos Ruano Says:

    Good luck Mr. Zen, winning or not, you are more than an excellent professor; and all of us, your students, know it.

    Carlos Ruano.

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