Devika Learning at the Illawarra Schools Trade Roadshow

Devika joined local and national institutions to give students a hands-on introduction to trades

Last week Devika Learning attended the Illawarra Schools Trades Roadshow to show students about what a career in technology could be like.

The roadshow took place at Five Islands Secondary College on Tuesday August 29 and showcased exhibitors from institutions such as TAFE NSW, MacDonalds, Defence Force Recruiting, the Tops Outdoor Recreation and Bluescope Steel. Students from years nine and ten got to try out potential careers through activities such as sushi making, rope climbing, dog handling, woodwork and bricklaying. And of course virtual reality.

Illawarra Schools Trades Roadshow
Students try out virtual reality on a Vive at the Illawarra Schools Trades Roadshow.

Trent and Sally from Devika attended the roadshow to demonstrate virtual reality and answer students questions about tech. The team estimate they put around 50 students through the HTC Vive virtual reality headset and try out the technology with games like the Lab. As always students were excited to try out the tech and were impressed by its capabilities, with one student requesting to try the Vive out six times.

“It was to so many kids considering technology as part of their future,” said Trent.

Skills in technology are expected to be in high-demand in the coming future, and that many of these skills will be applicable across multiple industries other than tech.

Students interested in learning more about skills in website development, game development, coding or virtual reality can register for one of Devika Learning’s regular workshops.

Devika Learning at the Illawarra Schools Trade Roadshow

Sherwood Hills Christian School installs virtual reality

The new addition gives teachers another way to enhance learning

Sherwood Hills Christian School has become one of the first schools in Australia to have their own virtual reality system installed. Over the July school holidays Devika installed an HTC Vive at the Campbelltown school as part of their dedication to ensuring schools get more access to VR and emerging technology.

Head of Primary Education at Sherwood Hills, Suzanne Zorn, said that having a Vive would help students engage in learning, especially the ones who weren’t as confident in their reading and writing.

“Having virtual reality hardware in the classroom  will allow us to enhance curriculum learning,” said Ms Zorn.

Sherwood Hills caters for kindergarten to year 12 students, however, the Vive will only be available for use for primary-aged students at the school.

Installing a virtual reality system is quite simple. The process usually takes 90 minutes to 2 hours, and includes one-on-one instruction in how to use the technology and a computer to run the device on. Ideally the Devika team like to visit the installation space prior to the day, to plan the install around the workspace. First the team sets up the area, then the provided computer and finally the virtual reality software. Once that process is over comes the fun part – downloading the VR apps. For Sherwood Hills Devika installed Tilt Brush, Google Earth and Buzz Aldrin: Cycling Pathways to Mars.

Students at Sherwood Hills Christian School will now be able to use Google Earth for VR


Virtual reality has can benefit education in several ways. The UK’s Virtual Reality Society points out that VR has several advantages over current learning methods in that it is:

-fully immersive meaning less distractions

-is an active, not passive, form of learning

-uses a hands-on approach, highly interactive

-is engaging

If you’d like to see a virtual reality system installed at your school, contact us to discuss options.

Sherwood Hills Christian School installs virtual reality

Learning Labs Recap

Screenshot of a half-constructed building in the game Minecraft
Work created Devika Learning students using Minecraft

Want to know what happened at the July UOW Learning Labs?

Devika Learning recently facilitated several workshops during the July school holiday Learning Labs at the University of Wollongong. Devika workshop facilitator Tom said the events were “fantastic” and that it was a great opportunity to teach tech-passionate kids from year 4 to year 10.

The best part of this experience was getting to inspire the next generation and to let them improve and learn skills that are different to what they normally get to learn,” said Tom.

“It was a pleasure to be involved in such an awesome event.”

The Devika Learning workshops covered topics like Minecraft, development with Scratch and Touch, and an introduction to virtual reality using Unity. The youngest of Devika’s Learning Lab students used Minecraft to develop their teamwork, spatial awareness and understanding of virtual worlds. Using Minecraft as a learning tool kept the students engaged and enjoying themselves learning.

Older students got to try their hand at coding using the Scratch and Touch. The user-friendly interfaces of these platforms make them ideal for coding beginners. Using the programs students learned the basics of coding by creating projects similar to Cookie Clicker and Flappy Bird (simple online games that young students are often familiar with and can be recreated easily).

Screenshot collage of Cookie Cutter and Flappy Bird games
Students at the Devika Learning Lab workshops got to create games similar to that of Cookie Cutter and Flappy Bird.

The most senior Learning Lab students experienced a real treat: virtual reality. Students used the multiplatform game engine Unity to learn the basic of VR app development, c# code and the potential careers in game development and programming that these skills could allow them to pursue.

Devika Learning also runs after-school workshops similar to UOW’s Learning Labs during school terms. Contact us to enrol now.

Learning Labs Recap

School holiday Minecraft workshops at the Wollongong Science Centre

Students got hands-on at the Science Centre to learn about Minecraft

Devika took over the Wollongong Science Centre last week to teach students the magic of Minecraft. The two-day Education with Minecraft workshop guided students through the basics of the widely-popular sandbox game, and at the same time taught them valuable skills in technology.

Hosted by the Wollongong Science Centre and Planetarium (NSW’s only major hand-on science centre), the fully interactive workshop taught primary-aged students how to creatively solve problems and understand the mathematical concepts within the Minecraft world. Along the way students developed their skills in teamwork, creativity, design, spacial awareness, navigation and reasoning. For many the workshop was their first time learning about game design and development. By covering the basics of Minecraft and server connection first, the workshop ensured both beginners and veterans were ready for a day of Minecraft learning.

Screenshots of Minecraft creations made by students at the Science Centre workshops
Work created by students at the Science Centre workshops

During the day workshop facilitator Tom walked the students through several Minecraft challenges and team exercises. Students got the chance to do everything from build a pool to tame chickens (virtually, of course).

Using Minecraft to teach tech skills is part of Devika Learning’s ‘gamification’ approach to education. Workshop facilitators use elements from games (e.g. levels, rewards, puzzles and problem-solving) throughout the workshops to increase engagement, and consequently, learning outcomes.

Think your child would be interested in learning more about technology? We’re enrolling now for our 10-week after school workshops.

School holiday Minecraft workshops at the Wollongong Science Centre

EduTECH 2017 – Our Highlights

Raspberry Pis, robots and foam drones – these are just some of the highlights Devika saw at the 2017 EduTECH expo.

Earlier this month Devika’s Brad and Ken attended the annual education expo to find out what’s new and exciting in the industry. For anyone unfamiliar with the expo, EduTECH is the largest education exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region with this year’s event attracting nearly 9000 visitors.

EduTECH 2017 included stalls from tech giants such as Google and Microsoft, as well as smaller local businesses. The expo also featured free seminars, teachmeets, events for parents as well as a treasure hunt and robocup competitions. Showcasing innovations in everything from augmented reality and big data to cyberbullying and special needs education, Devika was there to find inspiration for their learning program.

Our standout pick from this year’s EduTECH? Airblock’s modular, programmable drones. Using simple drag-and-drop programming, the Airblock drone is easy enough for primary-aged students to use. And because of its modular design it can be arranged into a number of shapes and easily fixed should it break apart. It’s an innovative (and fun) way to teach coding to kids.

Exhibitor and speaker applications are already open for EduTECH 2018. If you’re keen to be at the event next year head over to their website.

EduTECH 2017 – Our Highlights

Koori STEM Camp: Using VR to Tell Indigenous Stories

Aboriginal Australia is considered the oldest sustainable continuing culture in the world. With more than 60,000 years of traditional knowledge, how do you go about sharing this with Aboriginal youth while at the same time preparing them for an increasingly STEM-focused world?

That’s the challenge the Koori STEM Camp has set out to address. As part of the government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programs (HEPPP), the recent three-day camp offered local Indigenous students “the opportunity to identify with their Aboriginal cultural heritage and its connection to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).”

The Koori STEM Camp will teach Indigenous students all about science, technology, engineering and maths while also learning about their culture. Source: UOW

As part of the camp, Devika Learning will be showing students the job possibilities and skills they can learn through STEM. As specialists in virtual and augmented reality, Devika Learning will be showing students how they can use this tech as a storytelling medium. Devika, alongside Wollongong Indigenous knowledge holder Jade Kennedy, will give students an intro to AR and VR before showing them how they can use tech as a modern way to tell traditional Indigenous stories. During their time at the UOW Koori STEM Camp participants will also learn about how Indigenous culture relates to STEM fields such as:

 

  • Boomerangs and wind turbines
  • Storytelling using digital media
  • Sustainability in built environments
  • Renewable energy and the natural environment

 

As with all Australian school students, STEM education is of vital importance. However, Indigenous students can sometimes have additional barriers to higher education imposed on them. Indigenous kids complete year 12 at significantly lower rates than their non-Indigenous peers (61.5% compared to 86.4% according to 2015 figures). While this gap is slowly closing, it’s still crucial we actively work towards bringing educational outcomes for Indigenous students on par with non-Indigenous students. The Koori STEM Camp can assist in this goal by developing students’ sense of identity, pride, connection and empowerment to modern STEM concepts and their applications today.

Australia’s Indigenous peoples have been applying science for millennia prior to European colonisation. Indigenous Australians had an advanced understanding of agricultural science (maximising the productivity of land while not overworking them), complex number systems, knowledge of botany that allowed them to create bush medicines, and an understanding of astronomy that allowed them to navigate and count time by the stars. Scientific practice is as much a part of Indigenous history and culture as it is in Western nations – and programs like the Koori STEM Camp allow Indigenous students to connect with their heritage while learning about STEM fields.

Koori STEM Camp: Using VR to Tell Indigenous Stories

In2Uni, In2Tech – Devika at UOW’s July Learning Labs

School holidays: loved by kids, loathed by parents. All we can say is thank goodness for In2Uni and Learning Labs!

For several years the University of Wollongong have been relieving parents from some of the school holiday stress by providing workshops through their In2Uni Learning Labs. In 2017, Devika Learning will be joining them.

Over the July school holidays Devika will be running a series of full-day workshops from out of the UOW main campus. Teaching skills such as coding and virtual reality development, the workshops will offer programs for students from year 3 – 10.

Our workshops will include,

  • Coding With Scratch: Students in years 3-4 will be taught how to program their own interactive stories, games and animations while learning the basics of coding and creative problem-solving.

 

  • Coding With Touch: Year 5-6 students are also being offered the chance to learn coding. This workshop will use Touch Develop to introduce students to creative coding, working collaboratively and how build with drop and dag development.

 

  • Intro to Virtual Reality Development: For high school students, we’re running workshops that will introduce them to the world of virtual reality development. By the end of this workshop students will know how to use game engine Unity, be able to build their own VR project and have a good understanding about where the VR industry is heading.

 

This is Devika’s first year running workshops as part of UOW’s Learning Labs, but the demand for our workshops is already high. A whopping 98 students selected for the Learning Labs program chose our “Intro to Virtual Reality Development” workshop as their first choice. Unfortunately this means we were unable to accept every student. Luckily, we are running the same workshop over a 10 week period next semester so no one has to miss out.

Digital Dreaming 1-5
We’re bringing our popular workshops to the UOW’s Learning Labs for the July 2017 school holidays

As with our regular technology workshops, the Learning Labs workshops will approach education from a fun, “gamification” angle. This means students will be taught how to code and develop using games – a far more enjoyable and engaging approach to learning than conventional teaching methods. After all, these kids are still supposed to be on holidays – we want them to be enjoying themselves!

Since beginning in 2016 the Devika Learning program has grown significantly to accommodate demand for our workshops. More and more, students (and their parents) are recognising a technology gap in the Australian curriculum. Skills in tech will be of vital importance to the jobs of tomorrow. By teaching these skills now, Devika hopes to get as many kids as possible ready for the careers of the future.

UOW’s In2Uni program seeks to provide lifelong learning and educational engagement. From year 1 to post-high school, the program wants to encourage people to stay connected to education throughout their lives.

In2Uni, In2Tech – Devika at UOW’s July Learning Labs

A Career in VR? Devika Heads to the Illawarra Schools Career Expo

The last few years of high school can be tough. Apart from all assignments, people start asking you about what you’re going to do next:

“What uni are you going to?”

“How are you going to do after school?”

and of course the widely dreaded,

“Have you started studying for the HSC exams yet?”

Forcing young people to decide on a career path when they’re 18 and in the middle of exams is not easy. But it’s made a little bit easier with events like the Illawarra Schools Career Expo.

Devika joined the dozens of higher education providers, employers and industry representatives for the two day expo over May 9-10. Alongside institutions such as TAFE Illawarra, the University of Wollongong, Bond University, Sydney Film School, the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, AFTRS and the Australian Defence Force, Devika showcased the importance of tech skills for future careers.

High school students wait for their turn to try out a virtual reality device at the Illawarra Schools Career Expo
Devika was kept busy demonstrating and explaining virtual reality at the Illawarra Schools Career Expo.

The expo is designed to expose high school students to as many career options as possible – tech of course being one of those options. But more important is how digital literacy skills such as coding, basic programming and blogging will crucial to a variety of industries in coming years.  

As usual the Devika team were swamped with students at the expo, all eager to try out the Vive virtual reality system. After the first student tried out the VR setup, Devika had lines of students and teachers (and even a member of the ADF) queuing up to give virtual reality a go. Although awareness of VR is increasing in the community, many people are still unaware of how it works and the range of potential uses the technology has. Some ways VR is already being used include:

 

Teaching people how to meditate and reduce anxiety

Helping diagnose ADHD

Educating kids about drugs and alcohol

 

Moreover Devika wants to show kids that they can make their own virtual reality applications and games. Through the Devika Learning program students can start developing their own VR apps and learn a variety of tech skills like coding, web development and 3D printing. For students interested in a career in computing or gaming, these workshops can help given them an introduction to the industry while equipping them with the skills necessary to succeed. 

The jobs of the future are undoubtedly going to being underpinned by strong skills in tech. As they demonstrated at the Illawarra Schools Career Expo, Devika wants to ensure students today are ready to become the content creators of tomorrow. 

A Career in VR? Devika Heads to the Illawarra Schools Career Expo

Passion Camps and Workshops – All in a Day’s Work for Devika

When you’re a kid school camps are a highly anticipated event. Days away from your parents, sharing a room with your friends and getting to try a whole bunch of different activities makes for good times as a kid. But as Devika Learning recently found out, some schools are taking the humble school camp to the next level.

The Devika Learning team recently visited Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) during a “passion camp” – a school camp where the students get to decide what activities they want to do. No one wants to spend their precious few days away at camp bored and unchallenged – passion camps address this by letting the students set their own schedules.

Devika was there to facilitate one of their popular workshops on the multi-platform game engine Unity, as well as give a virtual reality demonstration through Vive. With VR devices becoming steadily more commonplace, the students’ keen interest in the Vive was hardly surprising. And who knows – with their newfound skills in Unity they could be well on their way to making their own VR games!

NBCS is an independent school based in Terrey Hills, NSW that emphasises a “culture of self-directed, student-led learning – growing students to be high-capacity leaders and creative thinkers”. This approach is reflected in their implementation of passion camps, allowing students to self-determine their approach to education. For Devika, this means students in their Unity and VR workshops are there because they have a genuine passion for learning about technology.

Workshop facilitator Jasmine takes a break from while at St Gregory’s College.

Devika Learning have been kept busy in recent weeks with a stream of workshops at schools such as St Gregory’s College Campbelltown, and St Josephs Catholic High School Albion Park. Our workshops in coding, game making, website development, Minecraft and virtual reality are carefully constructed as to move kids from content consumers to content creators while still enjoying the learning process.

Technology will play an increasingly significant role in our day-to-day lives. The Devika team work hard to ensure the next generation are equipped with the skills they’ll need to succeed in their future careers.

You could say that’s our passion.

Passion Camps and Workshops – All in a Day’s Work for Devika

Game Development at St Josephs – Week 3

This year a group of year 10 St Josephs’ students have been part of our 10 week program for game development, learning to build their own computer games.

Aside from building computer games, they have also been blogging their progress! At Devika we believe teaching is important to learning, and encourage all of our students to share the knowledge they are building with others online.

 


“Today was the first (official) day of the Devika course, and as someone who knows little to nothing about programming and game making I went in not knowing what to expect, just that I’d be making a game in 10 weeks and learn on the go. My aim for this program is to, by the end of it, learn how to code, program and develop a video game and acquire the skills necessary to continue making games in the future.”Juliana from Juliana Art And Design


 

Designing a game is not always about the tech skills. Design skills are very important, as they are learning.

 


“I’ve started designing the inside of my house. Originally I wanted a large amount of objects in the house but I decided it would be too crowded” ~  Trent from Death2All


 

Screenshot of a house in Death2All

Blogging helps develop skills and experience in marketing! Its great to see the students thinking about sales.

Store coming soon to Island Journey

Along with design and marketing, art is also a very important skill and has a valued place in tech.

 


I figured I could use my skills in digital art to create and animate backgrounds and characters for the game, something I’ve always wanted to do. This does mean that the game will take more time to develop than a 3D game, but I can do it even if it does mean continuing after the 10 weeks.”


 

 

Art and sketches by Juliana Art and available for purchase here

 

Sometimes it is only after building a game that you really see the importance of all these skills.  Marketing, blogging, website design, branding, visual design, game design and the most important thing of all, putting the effort in to make things happen.

 


“Another week passed and been working hard on my project, after making some basic models I started putting them in Unity” ~ Adam from Island Journey


 

Enjoy some screenshots of what they have made so far, and be sure to check out the websites and blogs to find out more as their games progress.

 


 

3D models by Adam for Island Journey
A screenshot from Island Journey
A screenshot of the main character from Death2All
Game Development at St Josephs – Week 3