My current Staff Profile gives a few hints and a few more personal details are here.
Dr Clare Atkins aka Arwenna Stardust
Ph.D Information Systems, BA Hons(Lond).
Since arriving in New Zealand in 1992, Clare has gained an international reputation for her academic work in various areas of Information Technology, particularly database design, research methods and multi-user virtual environments.
Having graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Clare began her teaching career as a secondary school History teacher before retraining as a computer programmer in 1985. After a number of years as an IT professional, Clare came to New Zealand to take up a lecturing position in IT at Massey University while she also completed her PhD. Clare arrived at NMIT in 2001, excited to take up an academic leadership role for IT programmes and to have achieved her long term goal of living and working in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
Clare has always been intrigued by the possibilities that online technology can bring to education. Following an initial individual exploration of virtual worlds, Clare co-led a mutli-disciplinary, multi-institutional team in a successful bid for $500,000 of NZ Government funding to explore the potential of 3D mutli-user virtual environments for tertiary education. From 2008-2009, the SLENZ project placed New Zealand and NMIT in the forefront of immersive virtual education. NMIT continues to own and operate two virtual ‘islands’ in Second Life which hosts other NZ educators and education resources. Clare currently chairs the national VLENZ charitable trust to continue that work.
Clare is an active researcher in the IT area with over 50 papers, book chapters and conference presentations both nationally and internationally. She has been invited to give seminars at universities from Wellington (NZ) to Melbourne(Aus) to Brighton(UK) and presented at conferences from Nelson to Vienna. She is a PhD examiner for various universities in NZ and Australia and her work is often cited by other researchers. A strong online presence helps her to maintain her national and international connections while enjoying the lifestyle that Nelson provides.
Clare’s research and interests have helped to shape the successful Bachelor of Information Technology and associated programmes at NMIT particularly with the strength of its database and systems development focus. In 2010, NMIT became the first in New Zealand to offer a degree level course in multi-user virtual environments to IT students. As the development of internet and web technology continues to increase, the development of the 3D Web where virtual environments and augmented reality meet with the real world, will rapidly become an area that many people, not just IT professionals, will need to understand and exploit. “By supporting these exciting and challenging initiatives, NMIT is placing itself to be at the forefront of that new world” Clare says.
Clare has won Excellence in Teaching Awards at both NMIT and Massey University and although enticed by the technology remains firmly focussed on the educational opportunities it can provide. She believes that “there’s a lot of potential for us to create online communities to collaborate on research, education and learning and to explore how best to identify and meet the learning needs of all our stakeholders in this period of rapid change.” In pursuit of this she has been working with the IT teaching team to extend the “Serious Fun, Serious Learning” philosophy from their successful orientation activities into the design and assessment of several courses to ensure that the “vibrancy, challenge and fun of Challenge Week is maintained throughout the year”.