VR could soon be a part of AUT’s classroom reality

April 25, 2017

VR could soon be a part of AUT’s classroom reality

AUT's director of software development Cliff Ashford says AUT is looking to VR to improve students' learning experiences. Photo: Sinelle Fernandez

In a world where technology is constantly changing, AUT is determined to keep up.

In an event on campus on Wednesday, the university’s software development team and AUT staff demonstrated how even virtual reality could work in the classroom.

The presentation included displays of the university’s recent technological successes, such as changes to its timetabling system, its staff intranet, smart whiteboards and more.

“We’ve been trying to upgrade and rethink the interfaces for staff and students and lectures at the university for the past couple of years,” said director of software development Cliff Ashford.

“This is the combination of some of the things we’ve been doing.”

After the success of the timetabling system, the more ambitious aim to incorporate virtual reality in lectures is still in the development stage.

“Now [we ask] how do we change how we teach [with virtual reality], how do we best leverage this technology . . . to improve some of the learning experiences?” said Mr Ashford.

He said costs associated with VR were decreasing, even as the technology has advanced.

Such interactive learning would help to “build three dimensional figures that you can’t see normally”, which would be particularly useful in a medical school.

Those who tried out the system at the presentation said they found it to be a fun and useful tool.

“It will give an opportunity to students to be more interactive, and build more interest [in the work],” said a member of AUT’s hospitality school, Himanshu Sheogaonkar.

“They’ll be doing something creative, something new, something unique every day.”

In the meantime, Mr Ashford is urging students and staff to come forward with proposals to improve the university’s digital space.

“We are very open to ideas. Come to us, tell us what you think and we’ll try to interpret those ideas and deliver them over the next couple of years . . . because then, not just you, but future students can also take advantage of that.”

The team will run follow-up events over the rest of the semester, where students can bring ideas.

A recording of Wednesday’s event will be published on AUT’s Student Digital Workspace website.

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