The Australian federal government has donated nearly 500,000 Australian dollars to develop a tailored online classroom solution for Australian and eventually international school students.
Software developer Editure received Australia$491,220 (US$375,600) from the Commercial Ready AusIndustry grant handed down on Nov. 6 to research what teachers and students would expect technology in the “next generation” classroom to look like, how lessons would be delivered and whether classroom Internet access is really productive.
A prototype of the system will be ready in Q2 2007. The collaborative teaching platform will be run across an individual school network with students able to access a regulated version of the Internet, and parents also accessing student reports through specialized Web portals or via e-mail. School syllabuses will also be available on the network.
Research and development for the platform will take place in Australia and New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, selected Asian countries and South Africa immediately.
Kim Ford, CEO of Editure, said the crux of the development will be approaching students and teachers and asking them what they want to see in “education 2.0.”
Ford said until the grant, not one company has spent a lot of time “in the front line” to get a good understanding of what tomorrow’s educators and students would want or need.
“Teachers want something to assist them deliver the information which they are passing on to kids, and kids want something in the classroom to make it interesting. We are basically looking at using the technology these people use every day to lift the school experience,” Ford said.
“I think as you see Web 2.0, an ‘education 2.0’ system will be pervasive through classrooms, and it will be essential that students and teachers have greater access to information and collaboration, even if it is through a cluster of PCs or a one-on-one experience.
“We are starting to see children who take technology and Internet access as second nature or just an extension of themselves, and there is a real need to move from teaching students in an industrial age to teaching them in a learning environment as opposed to just delivering to them.”
Ford said the first R&D step for Editure is to talk with school administrators and teachers to try and distill their wants into a working model.
-Michael Crawford, Computerworld Australia
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