A high-level taskforce to help redesign the Australian education sector is being launched this week at the Frontiers in Education Summit, Thursday 4 and Friday 5 December at Melbourne’s Park Hyatt, and ALISON CEO Mike Feerick is among the main speakers.
Part of a five-year program, the taskforce will bring together education providers to build new and innovative partnerships across government, business and civil society, positioning Australia as a world leader in education.
Presenting at the Summit, Mr Feerick, the creator of the first MOOC and Founder of ALISON, says Australia is especially well-placed to lead the revolution in online education worldwide.
“It has a highly energetic and internationalised education sector, is on the door-step of Asia, the single area of greatest need and population, and has a globally recognised reputation as an innovator in distance learning.” Mr Feerick says: “If the right strategic decisions are made, and the huge opportunity of new technologies and innovative systems of education and workforce training fully embraced, the reward will be a stronger Australian education industry with an ever stronger national and international impact”.
The Summit is a collaboration between ADC Forum, the Victorian Government and the Federal Department of Education, Monash University, RMIT University, the University of Wollongong, and Dūcere.
Mr Anton Roux, CEO of ADC Forum, says technological disruption poses challenges to education but that’s not sufficient reason to regard it as a threat. “Existing institutions can stand to benefit as much from disruption as the disrupters and there is no reason why they can’t innovate in a transformational sense if they are prepared to be really strategic, and disrupt the disrupters at their own game.”
The Summit is bringing together representatives from the National Union of Students, along with TAFE, universities from around Australia, Principals Australia Institute, the peak body for the nation’s secondary school principals, AARNet and private providers like Dūcere and Kaplan, with members of the business sector, including SEEK, IBM, The Nous Group, Pearson Education, Deloitte’s and EY (Ernst & Young).
Prof Stephanie Fahey, former Deputy Vice Chancellor of Monash and now Education Leader Oceania at EY, says the sector is undergoing rapid change.
“My sense,” says Dr Fahey, “is that given the intensifying global competition, Australia can support a limited number of globally competitive universities with very few in the top 100 of the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Some universities will differentiate successfully to become specialist or niche providers in research and teaching, while others will focus primarily on high-quality teaching. We will see mergers and some campus closures as the educational ecosystem seeks to rebalance. Nevertheless, it will be quite a dramatic change to the current landscape.”
With a focus on outcomes that transform disruption into tangible opportunities, the Summit aims to identify new models and partnerships to better serve the rapidly changing needs of end-users, both on behalf of students and the businesses that employ them. As well as changing notions of educational pedagogy and human capital, it is also examining how education is changing across the life cycle, how government policy will affect the sector in terms of building Australia’s knowledge economy, shifting its innovation base and building a new and more resilient Australian brand for the education sector.
Looking at new opportunities beyond Australian shores is also a major part of the effort, said Di Fleming, Executive Director of the Dūcere Foundation, who will be presenting more at the Summit on how Australia will build a new future in reaching out to regions like Africa and China. “In Australia, it’s been 25 years since teachers and students had access to the Web and yet our current models are still held ransom to a 19th century model – we need to fully manifest our own full capabilities so that we can also help other nations to leapfrog the pain.”
The Summit will also hear presentations from Gabe Zichermann on gamification, Dr Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills in Paris, Dr Joan Ferrini-Mundy from the US Government’s National Science Foundation for Education and Human Resources. A special lunchtime presentation by Di Fleming will offer bold new visions of the classroom of the future, a vision powerfully supported by entertainer and e-learning champion Prof Jeff Borden, and Head of Kaplan Dr Bror Saxberg, both from Florida, USA.
Another key dialogue will be on jobs and innovation, says the head of TAFE Directors Australia, Mr Stephen Conway. “Training people and equipping them for skills in an industry demand model only works effectively if that demand exists, particularly at the local level. If we take a broader vocational education and training approach we can enable people to form their own futures and to establish their own enterprises. Technology can break down those barriers.” CEO of Principals Australia Institute, Mr Jim Davies, agrees. Along with colleagues from the secondary sector, Mr Davies will outline how the traditional lines between sectors can be usefully blurred and integrated to create new learning pathways that establish life-long trajectories that build on the broader learning culture.
ALISON in Media
Sunday Business Post Building on education's location indifference - Nov 2013
Irish Times He'd Like to Teach the World - for Free - Nov 2013
BBC The Next Big Education Player? - October 2013
EURONEWS EURONEWS visits ALISON HQ - Talks to Learners – Oct 2013
Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference Refining Education for the Next Generation – Sept 2013
The Economist Army of Free Online Resources Threaten Higher Education - The Economist - July 2013
Edxusgroup.com ALISON named one of Europe's most innovative E-Learning Companies - June 2013
Harvard University Bulletin Training the Global Workforce, Gratis - June 2013
InformationWeek.com Early MOOC takes a different path - Information Week - Jan 2013
New York Times Open Education for a Global Economy - New York Times - July 2012
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