Wednesday, 7 February 2018
Monday, January 15th marked the first-ever AIT workshop held in collaboration with Different Journeys, a social platform to empower young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The 2-day game development and programming workshop taught the teens how to make a fun and interactive game for virtual reality, using Autodesk Maya and Unity 3D.
The Australian digital economy has been growing over the past decade. Deloitte Access Economics first calculated the size of the digital economy in 2011 when it was worth $50 billion. In 2014, this grew to $79 billion, and by 2020 it is expected to hit $139 billion. With this rapid rise in the value of the digital economy, there has also been a greater emphasis placed on tech education.
In Malcolm Turnbull’s 2014 speech on the changes to the education policy, he stressed on teaching a curriculum that prepares the student for the jobs of tomorrow, “Instead of teaching students how to be passive consumers of technology or how to use Microsoft Word or other proprietary software, our educators should be teaching students how to create, how to code.”
The importance of digital education has always been evident to us at AIT. Since our opening in 1999, we’ve trained more than 5,000 future leaders in the digital and creative industries, in our digital media, digital design and IT courses. This workshop was a first of its kind for AIT and has also opened our eyes to the positive impacts of tech education on teenagers with ASD.
In our conversation with Mel Spencer, co-founder of Different Journeys, she expressed the importance of tech workshops like these, “My desire was to expose these participants to a new environment in which they could expand their passion for digital technologies while being presented with opportunities to develop interpersonal skills and creative expression,”
“Learning how to create content allows for [students] to have a deeper knowledge of their interests, examining the complexities of the creative process which can be transferred on to any new skills that they wish to follow in the future. I hope that this can be used as a foundation that could lead to potential further education, such as university or TAFE,” said Mel.
Interactive workshops can help with anxiety which is one of the most common characteristics in teenagers with ASD. There are many people with ASD who are unable to leave the house, make phone calls or even ask for help. They become disconnected from the community. However, the interpersonal and interactive nature of workshops like these aid in lessening anxiety.
This kind of environment similarly needs to be implemented throughout the Australian education sector if we are to be more inclusive towards students in the autism spectrum.
“Awareness of the complexities of students with ASD, and that minor adjustments to traditional learning styles can provide huge benefits to students on the spectrum. It's not rocket science, teachers only need minor personalisation to methods and approaches for these students. It can really be the dividing line between whether a student's education is effective or not.” says Mel.
If you are interested in attending an AIT workshop or would like to partner with us to create your own workshop please get us in contact with us:
Philippa Browne, High School Engagement Manager, Melbourne - firstname.lastname@example.org or (03) 9005 2328
Trudy Pihelgas, High School Engagement Manager, Sydney - email@example.com or (02) 9211 8399