Endeavour College is future focused

Endeavour College's Discovery Centre
Endeavour College's new Discovery Centre uses immersive technology to prepare students for the future.

Much is debated about the role of schools and what and how curriculum should be taught. Fundamentally the role itself has not changed; to give students a knowledge base, a view to the possibilities of their future and then the skills to be able to make that happen. Equally, much has been said about post-industrial schooling and our need to prepare students for the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, changeable and ambiguous) world in which we all now live.

This is both an exciting and challenging space in which schools now find themselves. What skills and dispositions will young people need to be independent learners and thinkers? How will they collaborate – not just work within a team – but truly collaborate to ideate, iterate, and execute together? What are those skills and attributes? And what about their impact? How are we developing the mindsets of our young people, so they walk out of this campus with the confidence and sense of deep hope to impact and make a difference to the world in which they live? These key pillars Independence, Interdependence and Collective Action form the basis of our Vision for Learners document. The Vision for Learners at Endeavour College, is about preparing students for their futures independent of their specific vocational choices.

Endeavour College's Discovery Centre

The recently opened Discovery Centre is critical in this preparation. The Centre brings together fully immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences, VR Endeavour College is future focused headset experiences and the use of augmented reality (AR) options with for example merge cubes.

The Discovery Centre’s technology allows us to push the frontiers of education in two key ways. It allows for students to be immersed in worlds and lives and places which support the building of empathy, a sense of space and place, and builds a more comprehensive understanding. In this way the technology is all about the experience. Students can walk down the streets of Kakuma Refugee camp and have an immediate appreciation for the lives of those who live there. Students can sit in the cockpit of a bomber in the Berlin Blitz and understand with greater clarity the dangers and risks the air force personnel lived with. Students can visit glaciers and travel through the circulatory system stopping to learn about blood flow, vein walls and heart chambers and blood cells. Students can visit places and times in history, move weightlessly around the space station and experience being in the audience of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. We can be there virtually in all of these places and times and interact with the environment within. This technology allows for a powerful immersive experience that can only enhance learning – whether that is with a deeper understanding of content or a more holistic development of empathy.

It allows for students to be immersed in worlds and lives and places which support the building of empathy, a sense of space and place, and builds a more comprehensive understanding.

The other facet to this space is the learning about and application of the technology itself. Industry is already using VR to model in environments where access is problematic such as in submarines, in space or deep underwater. Industry is already using it to create prototypes of products and parts and then test the impact of new parts on industrial machinery. Industry needs young people who can move and grow with this ever-advancing technology. In the Discovery Centre students have the opportunity to create experiences, create prototypes that can then be
3D printed for use and testing in the real world. Students can design using the VR technology itself at a coding level. This is where the true power of the Extended Reality experiences starts as students then become the builders and manipulators of the technology itself – the creators. The XR technologies in the Discovery Centre, allow for significant enhancement to learning through experiences. It will also give real world opportunities for students to engage directly with the technology itself as a creative tool. This is the full articulation of the holistic vision for education at the College.

The Discovery Centre gives students another way they can learn more deeply thus fulfilling the College’s mission statement , “to develop each student and staff members’ God-given abilities for LIFE and community”. It does not replace the other classroom pedagogies such as direct instruction rather it works to enhance and build on the good teaching that is already happening.

John Dewey said it well in 1947, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow,” and never has this been more appropriate. The Discovery Centre space itself brings together the VR immersive technology, Poddiy podcasting pods, access to 360 cameras, AR cubes, personal VR headsets as well as the tech in other areas of the College. This is teaching students today to prepare them for tomorrow.

What an exciting adventure, an exciting frontier, an exciting Endeavour.

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