Erica Southgate


Associate Professor Erica Southgate (University of Newcastle) is recognised for ‘surfing the next wave’ of technology enhanced learning for social justice. In 2016, Erica was appointed national Equity Fellow where she conducted research into an enduring equity problem – how to increase access to high status professions such as medicine, engineering and ICT, for young people experiencing disadvantage. A key component of the Fellowship was her Immersed in the Future report on how virtual and augmented reality could be deployed for school career education.

Erica currently leads the VR School project, the first study to explore learning through the use of highly immersive VR in high school STEM and creative arts classrooms. Erica is a serious computer game developer. She has developed three games, including a virtual world, designed to improve student literacy.

The free literacy games – Apostrophe Power,  Sentence Hero and Robo WordQuest – are available from the App and Google Play stores. Most recently Erica led an interdisciplinary team, to conduct a project commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Education on Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies for Australia Schools.  One of Erica’s favourite things is flying high in VR. For more on Erica’s research –

Immersive VR is not one thing: Pedagogical lessons on using VR in real classrooms and how I respond to (pesky) talk of ‘scaling up’

This talk will draw on my research on using immersive virtual reality in educational contexts to tease out the interaction between pedagogical, ethical and technical aspects of the technology as they are dealt with in the current literature, and in actual classrooms. The talk will focus on how the literature frames the pedagogy of the technology and the limitation of this for empowering educators to experiment with it and adopting it as part of the fabric of the (physical and virtual) classrooms. The talk will canvas ethical issues that need to addressed and examine why the ‘scaling up’ discourse which permeates the field of immersive learning misunderstands the educational issues related to this emerging technology.