Making the Immersive Environments Course Immersive and Experiential

Bernhard Riecke

Amber Choo

Andrew Milne

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipientBernhard E. Riecke, School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT)

Project teamAmber Choo and Andrew Milne, research assistants

Timeframe: November 2012 to August 2013

Funding: $5,000

Course addressed: IAT 445 – Immersive Environments

Final report: View Bernhard E. Riecke's final project report (PDF).

From the final report: Unexpected finding included, "What we were (again) amazed with is how useful timely student feedback can be in adjusting the course delivery just-in-time. " Read more >>

Description: The overall goal of this project is to gather data to guide the improvement and redesign of IAT 445, a fourth-year elective in SIAT, using novel teaching and learning approaches. 

For IAT 445, there is currently no programming or game-design prerequisite, which was intended to enable students who are not focusing on programming and game design to learn about immersive environments. This creates challenges when teaching the course, as we cannot assume that all students have sufficient experience in skills such as programming, 3D modelling, animation, and game design that might be useful. Another challenge is that grades in most SIAT courses are heavily based on team projects, where not all students learn all the relevant skills to get the project done. This is particularly true for programming, where often only a few team members learn to program with sufficient skill and practice.

To address these issues, we will investigate and pilot how best to employ innovative teaching and learning approaches such as experiential learning, aligned teaching, just-in-time teaching, and flipping the classroom to improve IAT 445. Together, the specific background, challenges, and proposed teaching/learning approaches lead to the following questions that will be investigated in this project.

Questions addressed:

  • Using a structured creativity-fostering process for improving course redesign, can we adapt Affinity diagramming (a tool frequently used in design and project management) as a systematic tool for more effectively devising desired learning outcomes and aligned teaching and learning activities?
  • Using student surveys to improve course redesign, how can we use data gathering methods like surveys to better understand students’ background, skills, expectations, intentions, and motivations? How can we best utilize students’ feedback and creative insights and suggestions for improvement to guide and inform course redesign?
  • How do we flip the classroom? What suitable online material such as software video tutorials is available, and how can it be integrated into aligned assignments and activities?
  • How effective was the redesigned course?

Knowledge sharing: In April 2013, the stu­dents of IAT 445 will be pre­sent­ing their final projects in the Mezzanine on our SFU Surrey campus (link to event). A summary of the outcomes will be made available throughout FCAT. During the course of the project, aspects may be discussed in SIAT meetings. Final project presentation will be open to the public and announced on suitable email lists. 

Ricketts K., & Paquin, M. (2014, April). FCAT instructors "lean into learning".[Blog post]. Retrieved from

Simon Fraser University: Media Releases. (2013, April 18). Students create cool havens for immersive environments. Retrieved from