IGS students catch next wave of digital change

Digital Innovation (DI) High is a pilot project run by International Grammar School (IGS) and local IT education business Academy Xi, thought to be the first of its kind in Australia.

“Augmented Reality (AR) and Visual Reality (VR) is used in education, construction, real estate, health and entertainment to name a few,” IGS Director of ICT and Digital Innovation, Graham Clarskon said.

“These new world industries are going to need people who have skills that are what are generally described as being agile and interactive.”

The DI High Program is designed to equip students with these skills in computer-based environments.

Mr Clarkson explained that the idea for the project sparked from his teaching experiences in Vancouver.

“When I was working in Vancouver there was a school there that had a special stream for students called The Discovery Club,” Mr Clarkson said.

“This was designed to take students who showed passion in skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and the great outdoors,” he said.

“These kids were taken out of regular class time a couple times a month to learn about different outdoor opportunities.”

Mr Clarkson wanted to create a similar opportunity at IGS, but for students “who show talent and passion in Technology and Media”.

“I have always been a big advocate of the importance of learning taking place outside of the traditional classroom,” Mr Clarkson said.

The project challenges students to become world-ready and gain new skills for innovative environments.

It also offers students an opportunity to engage with new career trends moving toward interactive processes of creative problem solving.

“With the development of new technologies, comes new ways of seeing and learning,” Mr Clarkson said.

By partnering with innovative organisations in the IT industry like Academy XI, IGS can offer creative experiences for students.

“I know that with collaborative learning and digital innovation becoming a mainstream of teaching and learning we are going to see more and more models of this type of education happening,” Mr Clarkson said.

“It already happens at IGS, with trips to the NASA space program and all the great STEAM initiatives that come out of the High School,” he said.

CEO of Academy Xi Ben Wong displayed the same enthusiasm as IGS to form this partnership.

“This is such an exciting time because you students can shape programs how you want,” Designer and Technical Artist at Academy XI, Saxon Dixon told IGS students at a session earlier this week. “You guys will be the ones who will take this to the next level.”

To gauge initial interest from students, Mr Clarkson sent a call out to students and parents. This generated a wealth of interest, totalling 72 applicants for only 14 spots available.

A mix of boys and girls of different ages and interests were chosen.

“I have a really limited knowledge in this area so I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to grasp a better understanding and learn a lot,” said Grace of Year 8. “This is the way of the future, so when I saw the call out to join DI High I thought ‘why not?’ because it’s where everything is heading.”

As there are a mix of age groups participating, and each student had to submit an application to show their commitment to the project, Year 8 student Tilli commented that “everyone in the group wants to be here”.

“Because we had to apply, we are all here to learn and are committed to the group,” Tilli said.

During the course, students will experience Virtual Reality exploration days at Academy Xi, innovation labs and exhibitions, as well as learn coding from industry professionals.

“The program is a good way to get some new experience and have fun as well,” said Max of Year 7. “It’s good to get out of the classroom and do something a bit different.”

Depending on its uptake and success, this program may extend into an ongoing project for 2018.