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Sun Microsystems and Athabasca University unveil the first Canadian Immersive Technologies for Education Centre of Excellence

by NationTalk on February 26, 20091698 Views

February 25, 2009

Initiative showcases 3D classrooms to enhance teaching, learning and collaboration

MARKHAM, ONT– February 19, 2009 — Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. today announced the creation of the new Immersive Technologies for Education Centre of Excellence (COE) at Athabasca University, Canada’s Open University. A Canadian first, the COE will enable students, teachers, schools and communities to develop innovative and inclusive learning experiences that foster collaboration and interaction.Athabasca University will be rolling out the COE’s three-dimensional immersive technology research into the curriculum so teachers can create dynamic 3D learning environments and share experiences with colleagues while graduate students can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for real-world applications.

“Sun has a longstanding commitment to bridging the digital divide that prevents people from getting an education because they don’t have access to the right technology,” Kevin Roebuck, Market Development Manager, e-Learning, Sun Microsystems, Inc. “Immersive education combines 3D and virtual reality technology with digital media to immerse and engage students in the same way that today’s best video games grab and keep the attention of players. The new Immersive Technologies for Education Centre of Excellence (COE) at Athabasca University will not only improve existing educational environments but will also widen access to education for the disadvantaged, particularly those living in remote and rural communities and the disabled.”

Athabasca University is the first Canadian university to establish a COE based on immersive technologies. Research produced at the COE will lay the foundation for the creation of rich immersive educational environments on a broader scale, enabling students no matter where they are to work and play together, for outlying isolated communities to engage with others within and outside Canada, and for the development of richer ties between any arbitrary set of communities around the world.

A leading contributor to the research, development and deployment of open source solutions for immersive education, Sun is providing the technology and community support for the COE at Athabasca University. The immersive environments will be built on Sun’s Project Wonderland, an open-source toolkit for creating collaborative 3D virtual worlds and on Sun’s Project Darkstar platform. Within those worlds, users can communicate with high-fidelity, immersive audio, and can share live applications such as web browsers, open office documents, social applications and games. Sun will support and coordinate collaboration with its researchers in areas of high performance and grid technologies, security and software/environment design.

Sun will also provide Athabasca University with access to the Sun Immersion Special Interest Group, a Sun-sponsored community dedicated to advancing the state of open-source technology and open content for virtual worlds, games, and new media in education.

“Through the Immersive Technologies for Education Centre of Excellence, our researchers will be able to do things that were impossible before,” said Rory McGreal, Associate Vice-president, Research, Athabasca University. “Their research will extend beyond the boundaries of formal education, from corporate uses of the technology to broader community initiatives that will make education accessible to everyone. We are all lifelong learners, with many of us engaged in assorted learning communities in formal, informal and work settings. Software that enhances our abilities to do this will be of benefit to all. Given our synergies in vision and our commitment to education, Sun and Athabasca University have created a powerful partnership that will transform the way people learn and collaborate.”

About Athabasca University

Athabasca University, Canada’s Open University, is dedicated to the removal of barriers that restrict access to and success in university-level study and to increasing equality of educational opportunity for adult learners worldwide. AU is committed to excellence in teaching, research and scholarship. For more information, visit http://www.athabascau.ca/.

About the Sun Immersion Special Interest Group

The Sun Immersion Special Interest Group is a Sun-sponsored community dedicated to advancing the state of open-source technology and open content for virtual worlds, games, and new media in education using Sun’s Project Wonderland and Project Darkstar open-source technologies. It is open to institutions, commercial organizations, faculty, and students interested in working with Sun in developing and sharing practical experiences in 3D Web technologies. For more information or to join the Sun Immersion Special Interest Group, visit www.sun-isig.org.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Sun Microsystems develops the technologies that power the global marketplace. Guided by a singular vision — “The Network Is The Computer”(TM) — Sun drives network participation through shared innovation, community development and open source leadership. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the Web at http://sun.com.

Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Sun Microsystems, Inc., is headquartered in Markham, Ontario. The company, which employs more than 640 persons, has offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Victoria. Sun products and services are also available through Sun Authorized Independent Marketing Organizations and Sun(SM) Partner Advantage Program partners across Canada. For more information, visit http://ca.sun.com/.

For more information, please contact:

Suzanne Wintrob
MAVERICK PR on behalf of Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc.
416-640-5525 ext. 226
[email protected]

John O’Brien
Manager, Media Relations
Athabasca University
403-298-2931
[email protected]

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