Online education is expanding in Australia, with a host of new opportunities available to students at secondary level. This follows the success of various digital initiatives in the education sector, including blended learning models, interactive whiteboards and classroom iPad trials. Read on for a run-down of the opportunities that may be available to your child.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free online subjects that are available to anyone who would like to enrol. They are delivered in a similar manner to online and distance education studies available in the tertiary sector, but they do not have entry requirements, provide academic credit or result in an ‘award’. This makes them ideal for secondary students (and parents!) wanting to sample a study area before pursuing formal study in the field or simply explore an area of interest. Course content is developed by staff from universities around the world and is delivered on third-party platforms, with input from universities such as Harvard University in the United States and local universities such as the University of Melbourne, Australian National University and Monash University. Online education provider Open Universities Australia has also developed its own MOOC platform, Open2Study. To find MOOCs and see what they’re all about, see Free Online Courses (MOOCs) on the Good Universities Guide website.
The high-speed broadband network being rolled out across Australia will facilitate a number of opportunities in Australian classrooms. It will provide schools in all areas with the high-capacity broadband required to communicate and share resources with other schools around the country and overseas. The previous Labor Government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, for example, recognised the role that the network will play in enabling a closer connection between schools in Australia and nearby Asian regions, as well as making it easier for students to study Asian culture and languages via online study.
The Victorian Virtual Learning Network (VVLN) project provides students from schools in regional and outer-metropolitan areas with an expanded Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) curriculum, including studies that they might not be able to access at their school. The project is being led by Bendigo Senior Secondary College in central Victoria, which is the largest senior secondary provider in the state. In 2014, the VVLN will provide studies in chemistry, health and human development, legal studies, physics, psychology, general mathematics, mathematical methods and specialist mathematics. Students may also enrol in the CISCO Networking Academy Program, which provides training and practical skills in areas relating to computer networks. Subjects are delivered in accordance with VCE study designs using web-based interactive technology, including all required assessment. Students have regular contact with specialist online teachers from Bendigo Senior Secondary College, can take part in face-to-face workshops and have opportunities for practical work in certain studies.