Australia continues to think outside the box

So today, I had the opportunity to host an Microsoft Executive Briefing with the leading eLearning Companies in Australia.  I am so excited by what I learned and what it means for education across the world and specifically in the new five years.  I would like to share with you some thoughts and hope it challenges other governments to think BIG like Australia and I can only hope we in the United States will learn from their lead and follow suite.

In April 2009, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that the government would commit A$43 billion (US$30 billion) to building a broadband network across Australia, calling it “the single largest nation-building infrastructure project in Australia’s history” and promising it would play a role in “turbo-charging Australia’s economic future.” He likened it to Australia’s 19th-century cross-continental railroads—an investment that linked the nation’s sparsely populated inland to its coasts. Considering the economic stakes for Australia, which had lagged behind other nations in broadband access, Rudd said the nation had to bypass private bids to build the broadband network and fund the network through public spending.  In other words, every Australian citizen will have access to state-of-the-art fiber broadband. The social and economic impact of this will be enormous.  The new superfast network will:

  • connect homes, schools and workplaces with optical fiber providing broadband services to Australians in urban and regional towns with speeds
    of 100 megabits per second – 100 times faster than those currently used by
    most people extending to towns with a population of around 1,000 or more
    people
  • use next generation wireless and satellite technologies that will be
    able to deliver 12 megabits per second or more to people living in more
    remote parts of rural Australia
  • provide fiber optic transmission links connecting cities, major
    regional centers and rural towns
  • be Australia’s first national wholesale-only, open access broadband
    network
  • be built and operated on a commercial basis by a company established
    at arm’s length from Government and involve private sector investment
  • be expected to be rolled-out, simultaneously, in metropolitan,
    regional, and rural areas.

Every person and business in Australia, no-matter where they are located, will have access to affordable, fast broadband at their fingertips.  This then leads to what can this mean for education and truly student centered learning.  Education without walls that really enables anytime, anywhere learning 24/7.

What excited me the most is the amazing work happening by the eLearning Companies and the hope I have of them coming to the US market and supporting countries around the world.

B online Learning: http://www.bonlinelearning.com.au:They have an amazing Master eLearning Course where they help companies think through their employee professional development, build customize eLearning programs and look at a comprehensive approach.  All their courses are delivered as fully interactive eLearning and collaborative programs with students supported by a Learning Coach.

Kinetic Education: http://www.kineticeducation.com.au: Focusing on literacy and numerous with an amazing line up of eLearning for Math, Science and English.  If we think about in early learning when students are learning the basics and then they don’t
receive competence but move on to the next grade level and then they continue to fall further and further behind.  Their online learning solutions help students get back on track.

Mediasphere: http://www.mediasphere.com.au/: One of Australia’s largest digital publishers they have eLearning solutions for corporations, governments and education.
I was most impressed by their Powerhouse CAMPUS solution it is much more than just a LMS.  And I hope to see their solution plug into Office 365 for Education very soon…

Training4Work: http://www.trainingforwork.com.au/I love what they do in 1:1 training for employees at companies focusing 3-4 weeks 1-2 hours structured coaching sessions with assessments and training.  At the end of the employees training 50% of the credit goes towards 3 year Bachelor Degree Programs in top Australian Universities.  I can really see the potential once they take this online and use powerful virtual tools like Microsoft Lync to connect trainers with students 1:1 virtually.  With the work I have done in Hawaii, I can see this being a great programs for several of the tourism and retail companies.

Open Universities Australia: http://www.open.edu.au: I love this concept! They work with 18 different universities across Australia and when a student enrolls at Open University they select one of the Universities as the University in which they will receive their diploma and follow program guidelines but a student can take a class from any of the 18 partners if they see a class that may meet his/her needs better.  Everything is online with super high quality classes and professors from the 18 universities.

I wanted to thank the folks for the time they spent with me and I do love Auzzies!

Another area I learned about was the work an Australia NGO is doing in the USA, Australia and with European Schoolnet and 38 countries in the EU creating a Global Learning Resource Connection. This will map education resources, curriculum, learning, national standards and assessments.  You can learn more here-http://www.jesandco.org/weblink-cat-ourprojects/web-cat-glrc
It is super powerful and amazing work.    I am really excited about the possibilities in education in the next 5 years.  Where Australia will go, the innovations in education and how the career training and academic online learning worlds will collide with the need for countries to be more competitive and help students with the skills to be succesful in work and life.  The power of Microsoft Azure, Xbox Kinect and Windows Phone 7 to
help companies like these scale their solutions so they can be utilized all over the world in different modalities and not just in Australia or a few places in the US.  I hope the USA can become as innovative as Australia!  Can we make the jump to scale and not just pockets of innovation?

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One comment on “Australia continues to think outside the box

  1. Rane,

    Thanks so much for succinctly capturing the exciting things that are going on with the AMAZING Australian NBN and the great potential it represents for innovation in education. I was fortunate enough to attend and help organize part of the Australian’s trade mission that came through the SF Bay Area and the innovation and potential that these companies represent far exceeded my expectations. If a country like Australia with 23 million people can invest $43B, why is a country with 310 million people investing less than $1B?

    Last year the Obama administration announced a $1B stimulus plan to expand broadband access:
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/02/96983/obama-to-expand-broadband-internet.html#Comments_Container
    You could also argue that it’s not even really $1B, but $800M as there is a balance to come from ‘outside investment’.

    Australia is spending about 700 times more per citizen! Let’s hope we can follow their lead.

    Gary Batroff

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