NSW ramps up digital services for education sector

NSW ramps up digital services for education sector

A new app launched by the NSW Government will ensure the state’s parents receive immediate alerts if their child's school is to be closed the following day.

The release of the NSW School Updates app was launched in the wake of the 2019 bushfires and the more recent floods which led to millions of visits to the NSW Department of Education website.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said that the new app complements the government’s efforts to deliver “automated and personalised alert informing parents their school is closed and to seek additional advice”.

“The past few months have been incredibly challenging both for school communities in bushfire and now flood impacted areas," Minister Mitchell said.

"We have learnt you can never over-communicate in a crisis. This app provides an extra channel to inform parents if their children's school is closed”.

The NSW School Updates app is already available for download for both iOS and Android devices.

Support for remote students

Students who are engaged in distance learning are also set to receive more options in this important area. The NSW Government announced on Monday that it is expanding its Aurora College program after a successful two-year pilot run.

Minister Mitchell said the expansion of the program will ensure that high-potential and gifted students can “attend purpose-designed courses on a broad range of subjects”.

The program, which provides digital classes and resources to students in regional and remote areas of the state, was initially tested in 18 schools. The expansion will now see the program being offered to more than 600 schools.

"Having staff based centrally allows students from regional and remote NSW to connect to classes digitally, allowing them to interact with the teacher and other classmates from across the State," Minister Mitchell said.

“The college is delivering an in-class experience, results and opportunities for students whilst still allowing them to stay in their home town”.

In an article published in The Conversation, Monash University senior lecturer Carlo Perrotta said online learning could even be on the rise again as the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect the education sector.

This is especially true for the bulk of Australia’s international student market coming from China. Some universities have opted for online learning to soften the financial blow, while the Federal Government gave exemption to allow Chinese students in Years 11-12 to fly back to Australia.

Perrotta cited World Bank education specialists Michael Trucano, who in 2014 noted that China had to temporarily resort to distance education during the SARS outbreak.