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> Sorcha Nic Aodha
The Immersive Classroom will create a suite of artistic projects which educate and engage children and young people, as well as the wider public, to challenge perspectives about learning, science and communication.
Immersive Classroom is a co-created project with artistic director, Denise McDonagh, NUI Galway, CoderDojo, Insight, Professional Development Services for Teachers (PDST) and artist collective from Brussels, CREW. The collaboration offers an exceptional opportunity to reach young people through training courses for teachers that create immersive educational experiences.
Immersive Classroom carried out its first project ‘Virtually Here’ as a part Crinniú na nÓg in June this year, providing workshops for children from 9 – 12 years. The workshops, which focused on experimenting with Digital Storytelling and perspective in Virtual and Augmented Reality, took place in Oranmore and Tuam.
Throughout the workshops, using a mixture of smart devices, iPads, apps, and traditional drawing, children created their own content for their perceived realities. In creating a VR or AR environment, the children were challenged to consider alternate perspectives, learning how our own perspectives influence the way we see the world. It was also an opportunity for children to explore these technologies and ultimately shape how they use them.
The workshops were a huge success, a taster of what is to come from this extraordinary project. “We recognise the importance of providing children with opportunities to develop their digital competency skills,” says Denise. “As our society becomes more digitally-based, if we are to truly prepare our current school-going population to become engaged thinkers and active members in this society, we must equip them with the skills to do so. We want them to challenge their creative capacity so that they are enabled to gain a critical understanding of what it means to use digital technology, and how it increasingly mediates their everyday lives. By exploring these environments and creating their own, it enables children to develop their digital literacy, critical thinking, coding, group work, and social skills, to name but a few.”
As a part of Galway 2020, the Immersive Classroom project will train many teachers in VR/AR, who will then be able to pass this new knowledge on to their students for years to come. “Through active engagement in the key components of the Immersive Classroom Project, we would also envisage that teachers and children will gain an appreciation of how the visual arts and digital technologies can effectively be integrated in the process of self-expression,” adds Denise.
Galway 2020 Programme Manager, Marilyn Reddan Gaughan, says the project is an extremely important project to Galway 2020. “Immersive Classroom gives children and young people a voice in AR & VR within the Galway 2020 programme. We’re really excited to see the outcomes of this innovative project in 2020.”
Additional workshops, training, projects, and summer schools will be planned throughout the county and city in the run-up to, and beyond, 2020.
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