News from Y Kinders

Y Kinders and Federation University to create new approach to professional development

December 14, 2023 Our teams

With $1.43 million in financial support from the Victorian State Government’s Workforce Training Innovation Fund, Y Kinders and Federation University have joined forces to build the Y Kinders Sandbox, an innovative gamified professional development platform designed specifically for and by early learning educators.

The Y Kinders Sandbox aims to deliver an interactive and engaging suite of professional development resources which will enhance the teaching experiences and skills of early childhood educators well into the 21st Century.

CEO of the Y Ballarat, Craig Mathieson, believes the project to be exactly what the sector needs to continue to develop quality educators.

“We know that the sector is full of passionate and inspiring educators, and we understand our responsibility to fulfil their need for professional development that inspires.

By partnering with Federation University to develop the Y Kinders Sandbox we believe that we will be providing a platform that is engaging, inspires creativity, supports staff in their day-to-day challenges and most importantly, is readily accessible,” he said.

An Industry Advisory Group comprised of leaders from across early childhood education is being brought together to contribute additional expertise and advice. This committee will include representatives from key Victorian universities, educational institutions, and other major early education providers.

Practical learning will be blended with advanced technology, which will include:

  • Creating 3D Worlds: The platform will feature meticulously designed 3D environments, such as Australian bush, beach and urban landscapes. This visually engaging virtual world will offer educators a deep dive into nature pedagogy and expand the toolkit for embedding this fundamental form of learning in their educational communities.
  • AI Simulations: These simulations will focus on equipping teachers with the skills to help children experiencing trauma. Teachers and educators will be able to engage in realistic scenarios where they can apply and practice various techniques in a controlled, safe, and supportive ‘Sandbox’ environment.

Through the use of gamified content presented in a highly interactive format, Y Kinders Sandbox aims to engage teachers and educators in a new way, allowing an immersive approach to learning and encouraging the application of knowledge more effectively.

Y Kinders is pleased to welcome Dr Amy Claughton, a Teacher Educator working in the field of inclusive education. Dr Claughton draws on her research knowledge to underpin her pedagogical practice and will lead curriculum and content co-design with Vicki Dobson, Executive Manager, Children’s Services, alongside Y Kinders’ educators. Their focus will be across the key learning areas of Nature Play, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics), and Trauma-Informed Practice.

The efficacy of this gamified approach will be independently researched and evaluated by Claire McLachlan, Executive Dean, and Professors Garry Falloon and Robyn Brandenburg from Federation University’s Institute of Education, Arts and Community (Mt Helen campus) over the life of the project.

To support the sector, outcomes and resources from this ground-breaking project will be made available to other organisations by Y Kinders and Federation University.

Photo: Y Kinders Sandbox project team views virtual game environments in devleopment stage
L to R: Prof Garry Falloon (Federation University), Vicki Dobson, Executive Manager, Children’s Services (Y Kinders); Emily Chatham, Executive Manager, People and Culture (Y Kinders); Dr Amy Claughton, Project Manager Curriculum and Content (Y Kinders); Prof Robyn Brandenburg (Federation University).

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