Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), Degree Graduation Ceremony takes place today at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill; the guest speaker is a successful entrepreneur and SIT graduate who says studying gave her the self-confidence to start her own company, and helped pave the pathway to success for her in the field of Augmented Reality (AR) and educational games.
Melanie Langlotz, Auckland-based entrepreneur, is the creator, owner and chief executive of Geo AR Games, which provides (mainly) outdoor Augmented Reality solutions to government, in the form of games. She said their primary function is to educate, by adding the elements of game playing, it makes the learning more enjoyable and encourages participation.
“For example, if you want to educate on recycling or the environment, you gamify the content, and in that format you have the children teaching the adults. Gamification is a form of education”,
Ms Langlotz said one of their recent successes was produced during Lockdown, for the City of Canning in Australia. The game is designed around a wetland and incorporates environmental teaching about the feature, facilitating engagement with, and greater knowledge about the wetlands.
“Basically it’s an environmental science game, schools are using it for outdoor science classes” she said. The City of Canning has been highly commended for their game “Smart Canning”, in the Future of Places award section of the 2020 Australia New Zealand Smart Cities Awards.
“We’re very proud of it” she said.
She thought it was important to mention one of the fundamental reasons Geo AR Games exists, is to get kids off the couch with their devices, and outside engaging with the environment.
“From the start we targeted kids who had lost interest in going to playgrounds and their parents who are trying to cut down on their kids device time. We’re aiming at the ‘couch dwelling’ group of children who can be encouraged to the park WITH their device to play a half hour game, using their device. We tell parents, take the scooter or bike with you, and after they’ve finished the game they can engage in other play at the park. We call it our Trojan horse”.
She said the success of their games leads to recommendations from satisfied customers and opens the door to more international work.
Ms Langlotz honed her business and entrepreneurial skills by studying through SIT’s distance learning faculty, SIT2LRN, completing a Diploma in Professional Coaching and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Enterprise.
She discovered SIT2LRN while encouraging a friend to find new direction in life by studying. She did some research and found an article on it. The friend said she didn’t have the self-discipline to study from home, but suggested it was something that would be perfect for Ms Langlotz instead.
The rest is history - Ms Langlotz took to distance learning like a duck to water, and described her study experience as fun; she has clearly taken every opportunity to extract the most out her learning journey, revelling in the process of gaining knowledge.
Ms Langlotz said studying helped her to clarify what she knew and what she didn’t know; it was significant for her, firstly, in reinforcing the knowledge she already had, and helped her to identify where she could increase her learning and understanding.
“What I learned from studying is this: I grew confidence. It brings more control over your life and what you want to do. I gained a piece of paper that said I know what I know, and it helps when you deal with imposter syndrome” she laughs.
She said study not only provides confidence, but the opportunities to engage with like-minded people, reminding you you’re not alone, and it provides mentors too. It gave her the persistence to bootstrap her business as well.
Now five years into her business, and with five years experience under her belt, plus the benefit of hindsight, Ms Langlotz says studying, at least at Diploma level, will provide an understanding and guidelines on where to start, or how to take the next step. She describes the perfect combination consisting of study and a startup business incubator, like Start-up Chile or Lightning Lab, which she is an alumni of.
“Study teaches you theory and teaches you what you know and don’t know, and the incubator furthers you on that road of what you need to learn. That would be my recommendation – the key thing is the theory needs to be followed by practical experience”.
Ms Langlotz’s enthusiasm for her business is evident, obviously deriving both energy and enjoyment from it.
“Every day I go to work and I love it. I’m fuelled by a passion for what I do, and I don’t want to give it up”. Does she work at weekends too? Yes she does, and she loves it!