TAFE Queensland: A Unity case study
How does a vocational training institution not only prepare students for rewarding and lucrative careers creating virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR) applications, but also build excitement and community for emerging interactive technologies?
To empower students with practical AR/VR skills for high-demand jobs
Unity solutions in use
AR Vuforia, Unity EditorXR, Pixyz, Interact, Unity MARS, Unity Reflect, Unity Asset Store
~20 students per session
Preparing students for the workforce
Local support for a global program
Ann Stevens and Hans Telford are associate lecturers at the TAFE Coomera campus. Five years ago, they started using Unity at the campus, following the lead by the senior lecturers from TAFE Brisbane (Southbank campus) who considered Unity as their primary game development solution, including for VR teaching. Telford says, “Our students like using Unity because they are able to pick it up very quickly.” And Stevens adds, “The variety of plugins and frameworks available – such as Bolt, Interact, Pixyz, Reflect, MARS, and Forma – enable prototypes to be completed quickly for agile development.
Tutorials and frameworks for lesson plans
Both Telford and Stevens use Unity to teach an introductory game design course for students entering TAFE Queensland programs and also as part of their Work Integrated Learning projects. Typically, the structure of a class is derived from Unity Learn tutorials covering the basics, then they have students familiarize themselves with the documentation for various plugins, and finally, they recommend that students apply what they learned in industry R&D projects to improve their digital processes. In terms of workflow, a student outlines a rudimentary app or game design, creates some assets, and adds additional resources from the Unity Asset Store. The educators then walk the student through publishing the app to its intended platform. Students are also encouraged to take on Unity Certifications and relevant courseware.
Personalized UAA support
“Personalized support from TAFE’s UAA evangelist has been a big asset,” says Graham. “There’s a lot of help on the Unity site and in Unity forums, but sometimes you’re in a unique situation and it helps to talk to someone who can really help you in real time.” UAA has been able to put TAFE Queensland in touch with other UAA members and Unity users, and the Unity developer and Unite events have proved highly educational. Stevens adds, “The events I’ve attended through UAA have shown me all kinds of applications developed with Unity. I’ve learned a lot, and the speakers are amazing.”
Innovating practical apps for local businesses
TAFE Queensland encourages local businesses to see the benefit of using Unity and hiring Unity-savvy graduates to provide innovative digital solutions to enhance their processes such as in decision-making, training, and risk mitigation. Holovision 3D joined TAFE Queensland to create an eight-week job mentorship program to give students and graduates Unity experience building interactive AR/VR projects related to the company’s laser scanning for survey and design capabilities.
In another real-world project, students created AR training modules for Protech, an Australia-wide workforce solutions provider. CIO Matthew Eames says, “Using Unity, the TAFE students helped us with a really engaging and entertaining mobile app that promotes workplace health and safety habits. That’s not so easy!”
Enthusiastic students and businesses
TAFE Queensland students have impressed local businesses with their enthusiasm and AR/VR skills, and student assessment pieces and projects are valuable components for their growing portfolios. The businesses have, in turn, provided the students with valuable opportunities to gain mentorships, use their equipment and facilities, and present their prototypes to their project’s stakeholders.
As TAFE Queensland gets underway with its Unity Short Courses and Certification programs, they’ve invited Unity to run workshops on campus. Stevens concludes, “UAA has been a great partner in beefing up TAFE Queensland’s interactive curriculum. I think many other campuses in Australia will look at how we work with Unity and local industry, and consider joining UAA as well.”