Mount Majura Solar Farm, ACT
When our students can’t get to the solar panels, the panels are brought to them.
Whilst field observations and field trips are a fundamental component to many courses, constraints such as distance, expense, safety, or the complexity of the environment can limit students’ access to ‘real life’ experience. As it is in this case, the much-needed field trips can often be inaccessible.
As part of the PVC(E)’s ‘Digital Uplift’ project and with the support of the Lab for Innovation in Technologies for Education (LITEroom)* Immersive Technologies team, Dr Jose Bilbao (School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering) introduced Virtual Reality (VR) into his SOLA4012 course which provided students with an opportunity to immerse themselves into a highly realistic solar power farm environment.
The VR technology enables students to ‘walk through’ and interact with the – otherwise inaccessible – Mount Majura Solar Power Farm from their classroom. The immersive experience allows students to move around the solar farm in any direction, zoom in to get close to the panels, and play instructional videos as they go along. Students gain further insight by viewing interviews of industry experts taken at the farm, which were specifically recorded for the course.
See how it works - view a short demo here
(90 seconds. No VR headset required)
How did the PVC(E) ‘Digital Uplift’ project team help?
In a collaborative effort, Dr Felipe Crisostomo (Educational Developer, PVC(E)) coordinated with Dr Jose Bilbao (Academic Lead, Lecturer of SOLA4012), the team from the LITEroom and Mount Majura Solar Farm in the production of the VR technology.
In summary, the collaboration included:
- Ensuring all parties have a thorough understanding of the required course content,
- Organising the logistics of the filming day,
- Arranging interviews covering relevant topics with industry experts,
- Clearing appearance release forms through the UNSW and Mount Majura Solar Farm legal teams,
- Ongoing liaison in the final production.
How will the impact be measured?
In addition to comparing student assessment marks to previous years, the LITEroom has built an analytics dashboard which allows academic to view student activity in real time. The feature opens a digital window into seeing how students are progressing over time and it is being trialled this semester. This is part of the Extended Reality (XR) Learning Objects, which is an innovative concept created by Immersive Technologies that links XR experiences and data analytics in learning environments.
Photovoltaic Panels and Inverter at Mount Majura Solar Farm, ACT
What are the key outcomes so far?
The application of VR technology enhances the students’ practical knowledge and learning experience - especially when accessing locations and environments that are crucial to their learning is limited or impossible.
By introducing this technology to SOLA4012 (Semester 1 2018), students were able to digitally immerse themselves into the Mount Majura Solar Farm and experience real-world engineering application (Photovoltaic System) whilst hearing from industry experts. As this content is related to one of the course’s major assessments, students were able to actively participate and study at their own pace using the VR technology.
This was made possible by:
Immersive Technologies (LITEroom)*, Educational Delivery Services, PVC(E) UNSW
Dr Jose Bilbao, Academic Lead, Lecturer
Dr Robert Largent, Manager, Design Assistance Division
Dr Felipe Crisostomo, Educational Developer
Mr Carlos Dominguez, Immersive Technologies Lead
Mr Seyha Sok, Application Developers, Immersive Technologies
Mr Hao Zhou, Application Developers, Immersive Technologies
Mr Chin Wang, Application Developers, Immersive Technologies
Photo credits: Dr Felipe Crisostomo
*The Immersive Technologies (LITEroom) is a dedicated technology playground at UNSW. A collaboration between PVC(E), UNSW IT, World Class Environments and Students as Partners, it houses innovative and emerging technologies that have the potential to impact, shape and transform contemporary teaching practice.
The team is led by Luis (Carlos) Dominguez, Educational Design and Development, Educational Delivery Services, PVC(E). You can contact Carlos via firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about the Digital Uplift program (part of the Inspired Learning Initiative) get in touch with the PVCE team: DigitalUpLift@unsw.edu.au