Designed to enhance student engagement and inspire imaginations, Coomera Anglican College in Queensland has unveiled The Imaginarium, a unique 360 degree immersive learning space featuring Epson laser projectors.
Created as part of a new facility called The Pod, which incorporates the latest in immersive and interactive technology, The Imaginarium is designed to take learning to a whole new level – outside of the traditional classroom.
“The Pod is our future focused building. It was built partly to replace existing facilities, but also needed to provide a resource to cater for the College’s educational needs in the future. To be future focused, the building needed to be technology rich, promote high student engagement and allow students to work collaboratively,” says David Dobbie, Business Manager at Coomera Anglican College.
He describes The Imaginarium as a 360 degree immersive learning room that serves as the centrepiece of the new facility. “There was a lot of discussion about the application of virtual reality in education, with a great deal of current focus on wearable headsets, which we acknowledged would be a constant challenge for our younger students – so a space that provided an immersive experience without the need for wearable technology was how The Imaginarium came about. There is nothing else like it in the P-12 school space that we are aware of.”
Students from Coomera Anglican College’s Early Learning Centre through to Year 6 have been benefitting from The Imaginarium, however the school’s secondary students have also had the opportunity to explore The Pod and its immersive learning space.
With the success of The Imaginarium now clear, Coomera Anglican College is in the planning stages of developing a future focused secondary facility in the near future, which will complement and expand on The Pod.
The Imaginarium incorporates six Epson EB-L1300UNL laser projectors, which are combined with immersive interface technology, to seamlessly combine and project images at an 11:1 aspect ratio, onto a curved, custom built 360 degree wall, that extends for over 33 metres.
A seventh projector has been included into the design, which can function as a stand-alone projector to cater to traditional screen uses.
“These are high-end commercial grade laser projectors. The College has excellent IT professionals who were heavily involved in working with our audiovisual consultants throughout the project. When we posed questions about what we were trying to achieve in the space, the recommendation was that Epson was potentially the best in the market for us to achieve what we wanted, was extremely reliable and within our budget requirements,” says Mr Dobbie.
“It’s about enhancing learning and inspiring imagination. The Imaginarium is an impressive facility and we know we are having a positive impact on our students and their learning. For educators everywhere, there is a need to ensure that students are engaged, inspired, curious and creative in their learning. Technology needs to play a part in assisting educators with this process. It is not feasible, or affordable, to provide this technology in every learning space, however we have now created a space where students are almost forced, in a very positive way through their environment, to be engaged, inspired, curious and creative in their learning. It has been designed to be easily used by teachers, as well as allowing us to easily develop and deliver our own content, which was also an important design element,” explains Mr Dobbie.
From the moment The Imaginarium was unveiled, it has continued to gain a great deal of attention – locally, around Australia and even overseas. “The Imaginarium has attracted quite a lot of interest as news continues to spread. There have been several schools and universities that have seen the facility and are being inspired to develop similar facilities of their own. We expect to see more of this type of facility being constructed in schools, and all levels of education in the near future,” adds Mr Dobbie.
The Imaginarium even attracted the attention of Mr Stephen Hunter, Computer Resources Manager for the International Space Station at NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, who visited the College recently as part of an educational outreach program. “Mr Hunter was impressed with The Imaginarium and used the facility to engage with our students during his time at the College. With the Space and Aeronautical Industry tipped to be worth billions of dollars in the future, and the employment opportunities that come with that, our students are certainly well placed to be inspired to pursue these opportunities,” says Mr Dobbie.
When looking ahead, he adds, “Schools are still dealing with what virtual reality and augmented reality means for the future. To be effective in an education space this technology has to be multi-user, interactive and collaborative. Simulators are being used extensively in many areas including medicine, university education, gaming, engineering and the military, with pilots doing much of their training without ever flying a real plane. There is more and more simulation based training, so if it is good enough for adults, then why aren’t school-aged students getting to experience it until they go to university?
“Appropriate age-based simulation is definitely an opportunity that can be achieved by working closely with companies such as Epson. We’re living in very exciting times in terms of technological advancement. The challenge for schools is to look at how this technology can be used in an educational setting, and then being able to implement it within appropriate timeframes and obviously budgets.”