The technology which allowed Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) arts students to quickly and successfully transition into home-based learning during lockdown in 2020, is being utilised to bring a new course to a broader audience across New Zealand, overcoming barriers of distance, and access to specialised, high-tech equipment from home.
Semester 2 at SIT sees the introduction of the new blended delivery paper: BSA 528 Game Design 1, which can be completed as a short course - Introduction to Game Design - over fourteen weeks, or cross-credited into a Bachelor of Screen Arts, Game Design strand.
Rachel Mann, Animation and Game Art Tutor at SIT, is excited about being able to offer the paper for the first time through a blended delivery format, as in the past it could only be offered on- campus due to the technology requirements.
“This is a flow-on from the Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop we activated last year which allowed our students access to highly specialised resources from home, ensuring they were able to continue their studies uninterrupted during lockdown. Prior to Covid we couldn’t offer this to distance learners, but now we can provide these programmes due to embracing the new technological capability”, she said.
Ms Mann said the blended format includes a compulsory class session once a week – every Friday, where students are required to remotely attend their class, citing its importance because the paper has a strong practical emphasis, so students will need that face-to-face time with their tutor.
“The other study materials can all be completed in their own time, but once a week they need to engage in that tutor-led session so they have tutor access and support solidly embedded in their course”.
There were other benefits to be had in the class engagement said Ms Mann, which she was also looking forward to. “We’re using a different model with off and on-campus students all being simultaneously taught together”.
By combining the two groups of students it would offer advantages for those studying the paper. It increases the diversity of the group, creating more connections and broader networking and collaboration opportunities, she said.
“It should be really interesting for the students as we develop informal discussion groups which will facilitate being able to share their ideas with each other, and keep in touch even when they’re not in class. It means we have a greater number of students coming together and doing something creative”.
Ms Mann says the short course, which focuses on 2D animated games, will appeal to those who want to upskill, those who may be interested in the degree programme and want to test the waters to help them decide; those who already have a degree or knowledge and skills in digital media and want to add another string to their bow, or those looking at training for a career move to capitalise on the exponential growth in the gaming industry at present.
“It’s exciting because of it flexible nature, and it gives students the chance to fit it in around already existing commitments like work and family – it should have quite wide appeal”, she said.
Introduction to Game Design runs from 26 July to 05 November. It is available under the SIT Zero Fees Scheme, with course costs of $100.