This post was contributed by Hugh Gormley, Project Manager (Video Innovation), Learning Futures

The Immersive Learning Symposium #anewreality took place on Thursday 31 January to Friday 1 February and saw more than 70 delegates from ACODE (Australian Council on Open, Distance and E-Learning), GUAVR (Griffith University’s Alliance for Virtualized Realities) and elsewhere in the tertiary sector converge on Griffith University’s Nathan Campus Heart seminar rooms to discuss and benchmark Immersive media creation.

Day 1 focused on eXtended Reality (XR) and particularly Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) implementations, while day two focused on tours of Learning Futures’ new Immersive Studio and Create Your Own (CYO) Studio offerings, along with talks on 360˚ video production.

The talks were livestreamed in 360˚ video by Learning Futures’ Emergent Technologies team (many thanks to Espen Dammen for his expertise in this area), giving over 20 participants who couldn’t make the trip to Nathan the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered live.

The sessions attracted a broad range of speakers demonstrating new applications, artistry, hardware, experiences and pedagogy. Half of the speakers for the sessions were drawn from our Griffith learning and teaching community.

See a full list of the sessions and speakers below. Click on any linked titles to see the livestream of the session, via YouTube. (Day 1 streams are currently unavailable)

** Note: Session are recorded in 360˚ video and best viewed seated with a VR headset **

#anewreality Day 1 – 360 Live Stream – AR/VR Quickfire Sessions

VR in Exercise Science | Peter Weyand | Australian Catholic University –

Quick glance of MR Activities in Turkey | Zeynep Tacgin | Charles Sturt University

Augmented Reality for Spatial Reasoning | Daniel Della-Bosca | Griffith University

XR Learning Objects | Luis (Carlos) Dominguez | UNSW

Introduction to the Leica BLK-360 Laser Scanner | Dr Leigh Shutter | Griffith University

VR & AR: Interaction and Empathy in Learning Realities | Dr Leigh Ellen Potter | Griffith University

Virtual Weather and Immersive Storytelling | Scott Roberts | Griffith University

Mixed Reality Research Lab: Mobile MR Demo | Assoc. Prof. James Birt | Bond University

VR in K12 Education – the previous experiences students come with to tertiary | Dr Jason Zagami | Griffith University

Holographic applications in Health | Dr Jane Frost | University of Canberra

#anewreality Day 2 – 360 Live Stream – Immersive Video Quickfire Sessions

Building 360 Video Interactives | Peter Weyand |Australian Catholic University

Griffith at the Commonwealth Games | Hugh Gormley | Griffith University

Using 360 video to create interactive branching scenarios to prepare distance students for practical tasks at residential workshops | Dr Darryl Clare | Central Queensland University

Beyond Reality – Cinematic spatial sound in 360 film | Alicia Eames | Griffith University

Crafting 360-degree immersive video cases for teaching and assessment purposes: Examples from teaching business and negotiation | Andrew Patterson | University of Auckland

360 Live Streaming mixed mode tutorials and workshops | Dr Jason Zagami | Griffith University

Designing Immersive Mobile Mixed Reality for Paramedic Education MESH360 | Thom Cochrane | Auckland University of Technology

Exploring VR film language | Zhang Charles | Griffith University

Promoting empathy through immersive video | Dr Jane Frost | University of Canberra

We learned a great deal from hosting the symposium…

The philosophical

  1. While each attending institution is experimenting in Immersive Media, widespread implementation is a long way off. Griffith is helping to lead the way in producing these media assets and is well poised to create Immersive assets ‘en masse’.
  2. The sector has a healthy skepticism of Immersive media and acknowledges that pedagogy should inform the types of media we use, rather than technology.
  3. The media we refer to as Immersive, or eXtended Reality, is clearly a diverse set of technologies as disparate from each other as text is from video. Choosing the right technology to use will require an understanding of all alternatives, and the acquisition of many complex new skills.
  4. Institutions are definitely already using ‘light’ tech, like 360˚ video and Google Tour creator, to create experiences, excursions and lots of inductions! They are reporting higher attendance, retention, student satisfaction and engagement from students wanting to help make the media.
  5. ‘Heavy’ tech such as Virtual Reality (VR) headsets tethered to gaming PCs, Hololens, etc. are gaining traction, but have a development time and financial drawback that makes them unattractive.
  6. None of the visiting institutions has considered an Immersive Studio and how to make Immersive experiences from the live, record and deliver paradigm!
  7. Other institutions have as many as 12 designers working to create Immersive experiences at once.
  8. Many Universities are partnering with outside producers to make experiences, as they don’t have the skills in-house.
  9. The 360˚ video stream was a huge surprise success, especially for this event. Others have asked for details of the equipment and processes employed to follow along!
  10. One institution gives ‘BLING’ – Blended Learning Innovation Grants to their XR hub community as a way to get content made and tech out into the schools.
  11. Institutions like CGU and JCU also have Communities of Practice like GUAVR (Griffith University’s Alliance for Virtualized Realities) with more than 60 people at monthly meetings.
  12. Others are leveraging animation, sound and computing academics to create content for learning and teaching projects.
  13. The main areas of VR creation are in health (emergency simulation), inductions and then STEM, but all areas were represented.

The technological

  1. Sound is an incredibly important and under-valued part of engaging the viewer. We need to do more to support exceptional immersive sound recordings.
  2. We should revisit applications that we have left along the research roadside, e.g. SeekBeak, Kolor Panotour, etc. as quick and easy to use immersive tools.
  3. Adobe Captivate may be a good tool to help us rapidly create mobile XR apps.
  4. There are rubber, durable, foldable Google ‘cardboard’ headsets available that make great alternatives to the veritable ‘Google Cardboard’.
  5. Griffith has an enterprise Sketchfab license that we could be promoting for easy mobile model visualisation in VR and AR.
  6. Adobe Premiere has a plane to sphere filter to make compositing text and effects onto 360˚ video much less arduous (i.e. doesn’t require advanced After Effects or Photoshop skills)
  7. The Hololens has a new OS that may require a second look, but also we hope Hololens 2 may be released soon.
  8. The Immersive team learned that streaming 360˚ video is more complex than first anticipated. We will look at how to do a secondary 2D slide composited onto the 360˚ stream next time. It also suffers somewhat from presenters interacting with the technology, and assuming how the media works.
  9. provides a flexible, easy to use library to incorporate VR and AR experiences into our websites. This is game changing!

Feedback and comments from the symposium…

From Learning Futures staff

I can say that most if not all of the attendees that we took through the CYO Video Studios were impressed in one way or another. Many were impressed with how simple they are to operate.

– Espen Dammen

People were saying it was a great sharing space – it was open, people could be honest and there was a lot of learning done. People were pretty darn impressed with the CYO studios and were working towards a similar model if they could.

– Simone Poulsen

The quick-fire presentations I went to on Thursday afternoon were excellent. One informed me of what types of VR experiences students come into Higher Ed having already had, which is quite important to know. I also thought the other quick-fire sessions at this time were excellent and high quality. They also showed that we are right on the mark at Griffith.

– Dr Chris Campbell

A lot of what I heard at this event was new to me. It was interesting learning about the ways in which people from different institutions are using AR, VR, MR and XR.

– Dale Hansen

From Twitter

In summary, #anewreality was well supported and received very positive feedback. Delegates acknowledged Griffith’s leadership in terms of coordinating the symposium, and in sharing our hard-won knowledge. They also confirmed our direction as being one of the most innovative and ambitious in the sector. We too learned a great deal, broadened our network of collaborators and look forward to another great Symposium in 2020!

To learn more about #anewreality, see the story and resources on the ACODE post-event website