We’re back again today with another interview! This time we have with us Ann Stevens, an Associate Lecturer at TAFE Queensland Gold Coast, where a Hackathon event for high school students was recently hosted.
Hi Ann, and thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us after TAFE’s successful Hackathon. We’re excited to get to know you and your work some more. To start off, what got you into emerging technology and, more specifically, VR?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computing back in 1993. My final project was on Expert System, which was quite new back then. Since then, I have been working in multimedia areas as a programmer/developer and instructional designer with international mining companies in South East Asia and another university on the Gold Coast. Having sufficient industry experience, I decided to share my knowledge and experience by becoming a teacher/lecturer, which has more flexible working hours as I started a family. I also decided to undertake further study and completed postgraduate degrees in education and multimedia.
With the emergence of new technologies, most of the multimedia experts decided to embrace the advantages of using AR and VR within the context of their industry (e.g. entertainment, building, engineering, etc.) to expand their career opportunities, and I am one of them.
You definitely have a lot of amazing experience under your belt, and we’re happy you’re so willing to share your knowledge with others. It was a treat to hear your origin story!
Now it would be great to get your perspective on the future. How do you see VR, programming, and other technologies shaping our future, and how do you see them influencing education?
At the moment, there is still a misperception that VR devices are just expensive entertainment props to make the lessons less boring. There is a need to run VR workshops for organization executives to show the full capability of VR (e.g. eye-tracking, understand the cost and benefit, and help them brainstorm some innovative ideas on how that can be applied into their industries).
It would be good to see the various industries taking the full advantage of VR as a cost-effective and low-risk training method, as well as a better customer experience. I used to work in the mine site. There is a high safety risk in underground training, so the use of VR with its immersive experience would be useful during a safety induction training. In terms of customer experience, it is good to see more and more building designs with VR walkthroughs being developed and used for the purpose of quality control and design prototype and acceptance.
If the industries are willing to fund more VR projects, then there will be more demand and interest in education to provide more lessons and courses knowing there are many career opportunities in many areas.
We can definitely see there are some great benefits to training with VR. We are also enthused by your passion for the subject, especially since it results in benefits for younger generations, like the recent Hackathon you were involved with.
What makes you so passionate about technology innovation and bringing that passion to others? Is there something in particular that motivates you to help students?
To show students how to turn their idea into a product, which offers benefits to their target audience, definitely gives me a great sense of achievement. Acknowledgment from the audience is another rewarding experience. Any expression of excitement when the students successfully build their work for new technology (e.g. Hololens) is always good to see. If they are school kids, the excitement of the parents just doubles the rewards.
A few of my students have become technology teachers themselves now, and some others have better jobs than I have! They are the highlights! However, in everyday duties, I will be just happy if each of the students knows more than when they arrive or completes the lesson milestone when they leave the classroom.
Thank you for doing such important work in helping students achieve their dreams. It’s amazing to see the impact you’ve had. We’re also thrilled that you’ve enrolled in our Virtual Reality Mini-Degree. How have the courses at Zenva impacted your work, and what drew you to them?
Zenva courses are affordable, easy to follow, and rich in content. The Virtual Reality Mini-Degree has been a great reference for various aspects of VR. When we had to create an example for a mobile build for a VR competition event, I found the code resources of the Virtual Reality Mini-Degree to be extremely useful. It is easy to search for what I am looking for, as the topics are delivered in a logical order with meaningful titles.
We’re glad to hear it, as this is the sort of effect we want to see our courses having.
It’s almost time to wrap-up, so let us finish off with one final question. What advice do you have for other Zenva students who want to get more out of their learning?
Once you have completed the lessons, apply what you learn into a different context. For example, if you created a game as part of the lesson, think about how you can apply the coding into non-gaming contexts of your interest e.g. arts, science, or even shopping!
This concludes our inspiring interview with Ann Stevens, and we look forward to seeing her continued impact on students, education, and emerging technologies
Be sure to check out Ann’s LinkedIn profile for even more information on her work.