TLCANZ18: X is for Excitement: XR Hub for Academic Engagement

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X is for Excitement: XR Hub for Academic Engagement



Extended reality (XR) incorporating Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality is being enthusiastically embraced by many sectors, including advertising, marketing, communication and media. We believe AR is a concept that has particular value for Higher Education. This presentation will build the case for kick starting academic engagement in pedagogical transformation and technological adoption through a small grants program and formation of a community hub for Extended Reality (XR) projects.

Longstanding interest in extended reality technologies from the educational sector has surged in 2017/18 as big players like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple move into the market with higher quality, more affordable hardware and software. Educational institutions are now increasingly recognising and investing in XR as the promise of immersive learning is within reach.

In an environment of constant change and mounting time pressures, discussing improvements in pedagogical design is often met with weary looks from academics. At James Cook University, a small grants program known as BLING (Blended Learning Innovations Grants) has generated a number of projects in the XR space. BLING gives “small change for big change” and XR generates enthusiasm and a willingness to come together. How do we capitalise on this to bring new learning experiences to students? How do we integrate immersive learning experiences into the curriculum and existing learning environments and how do we then engage with academics to work on further improvements to their course design and teaching practice?

The institution is holding a series of XR Meetups and inviting the broader JCU community to participate in launching the XR Hub, a common planning and management space for all XR related projects.

Authors: Ben Cleland, Danny Munnerley | James Cook University