Strategic application of immersive visualisationand simulation can address these challenges and create a competitive advantage. Equity in higher education is not only an economic imperative but a social one (Wells 2008). Regional universities create opportunities for diverse groups (low socio-economic, disabilities, special needs) to undertake higher education (Regional Universities Network 2015) and thus need to develop equitable, student focussed, authentic teaching that maintains academic standards within inclusive and stimulating learning environment. Learning spaces that extend beyond the classroom engage people with different learning styles to provide opportunities for deep learning and connection with students’ respective professional communities (Isoardi 2010). Fostering the links between authentic learning, teaching and the real world creates meaning to existing and emerging concepts by drawing on previous learning, professional or personal experiences (Durham & Aidemn 2012; Hunt 2012). Clear connection to course concepts is imperative to piecing together critical constructs; this is where immersive simulation and visualisation may have the greatest impact (Bland, Topping & Wood 2010; Bradley 2006). The benefits of immersive experiences have not been extensively explored (Raja, et al. 2004). This project seeks to immerse students in a virtual or representative environment to create a sense of “presence” (Raja, et al. 2004) as immersion offers safe, repeatable and supportive learning environments, structured and planned to replicate real experiences to underpin program and course learning outcomes. Engaged students are attracted to their work, persist despite challenges and obstacles, and have a sense of pride in their accomplishments (Schechty 1994). Authentic engagement provides results that have clear meaning and immediate value to students (Schechty 2000) and is an important precursor to student learning (Zyngier 2008). Background: Innovative activities were independently undertaken in two disciplines, stemming from a desire to improve student outcomes. These academics simultaneously recognised a climate of readiness for innovative approaches that align directly with University strategic priorities: multi-site delivery and visualisation. Over 110 students across two campuses enrol in sustainable tourism, leisure and event management but only 30 can take part in Fraser Island field work. The Paramedic Clinical Practicum2 teaching team sought pedagogical approaches that explicitly linked real-world practice to the learning environment. How can equity and engagement be improved to positively influence student outcomes? Innovative use of existing and new videos, role play and peer to peer learning presented in Immersive Lab and CAVE2. 2015 informal survey asked “Being in the Immersion Lab gave me the opportunity to …. Learn from peers (63 percent), increase course understanding (48 percent), better understand (44 percent) and engage with content (44 percent). This feedback inspired multi-discipline resource development via an L&T grant: Curriculum enhancement has commenced; materials are being filmed, edited and trialled in focal courses and formal questionnaires administered to students.
2016 Learning & Teaching Week: 2020 Teaching Visions. 2020 - What's Next?, Sunshine Coast, Australia 31 October - 4 November 2016