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Sunshine Coast high school teachers get immersed in VR technology

Published:28 March 2019

CQUni Noosa Digital Media Lecturer James Picton was introducing some Sunshine Coast high school teachers to the CreateNoosa Immerse High competition this week.

The CreateNoosa Immerse High competition, which enables Noosa & Sunshine Coast high schoolers to express their creativity using Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology, has entered its third year, with teachers from across the region coming together to see its potential first-hand.

This week, teachers from across the region gathered at CQUniversity’s Noosa campus and other venues for a series of workshops with CQUni Digital Media Lecturer Jim Picton, CreateNoosa’s Deidre Marczynski and other stakeholders including Noosa Library and the University of the Sunshine Coast. Jim is no stranger to these type of events being the Co-Chair of the CQUni Virtual Augmented & Mixed Reality Community of Practice( VAM CoP) with colleague Darryl Clare, OAM.

Immerse High is part of the CreateNoosa initiative and aims to create opportunities for school children to use nascent creative technologies such as VR and AR technology as a mechanism for storytelling. This year’s competition is split into two categories with a biosphere theme for students in Years 7-9, whilst senior students tackle the more abstract concept ‘Point to Point’ mirroring the theme of the region’s Floating Land community arts festival.

Now in its third year, the Immerse High competition has seen an increase in the number of schools participating, with 10 Sunshine Coast schools competing this year. The success of the competition has helped raise the level of community interest in the CQUniversity’s digital media program.

“Although it initially started just in Noosa, this volunteer-run competition initiative of CreateNoosa expanded in 2018 to include all of the Sunshine Coast,” Jim said.

“It now runs from Caloundra to Gympie and this year we’ve opened up to include the University of the Sunshine Coast as a collaborative partner. At the end of the day we’re trying to create future opportunities for young people across the coast, so we’ve put academic rivalries aside.”

“The Queensland Chief Entrepreneur has indicated that the Sunshine Coast will be seen as a creative technology hub and exciting projects such as the Maroochydore Creative Hub and potential submarine internet pipeline reinforce this point.”

Jim said the workshops would provide the teachers with the information and skills to get them underway with the Immerse High competition.

“There are some new and returning schools coming into the competition in 2019 and all are welcome to book training sessions with me at the Noosa campus, or checkout some of the student submissions from last year.

“The equipment used isn’t commonplace within schools as it’s not explicitly required by the curriculum, the technology can be expensive and it takes up a bit of room. We generally find that when schools do have equipment, it’s often the result of having a digital champion on staff who has purchased equipment off their own back. By allowing schools to come in and use CQUniversity’s VR space at its Noosa campus, we’re offering a solution which helps get them involved. As a former primary school teacher, the highlight of the whole process is watching schools, teachers and students develop and strengthen their working relationships.”

“The core message that we try and push is that although tech is the driver, it is very accessible and intuitive. Once teachers put on the headsets the teachers become as enthusiastic about the possibilities as their students.”

“Regardless of their individual subject areas, teachers begin to see how they can incorporate creative tech processes as part of their broader teaching pedagogy, which is a great outcome for everyone.”

Teaching staff and students involved with the Immerse High competition are welcome to contact Jim directly through the CQUniversity Noosa campus, or via the CreateNoosa website, in order to book training sessions.

The program has also attracted major sponsors including Wacom.

Immerse High runs from 23 April - 7 June (Term 2).

Visit www.immersehigh.com and http://www.createnoosa.com/ for more information.