'Democratising access to education'

For busy schools, making sure students can access to content in an affordable and hassle-free way can be a challenge.

However, the rise of subscription services – sometimes referred to as ‘education as-a-service’ – within the education sector, is helping to ‘democratise’ access to education, and creating new opportunities in terms of affordability and accessibility.

This is particularly of value for people previously restricted from accessing such services due to the significant upfront cost of purchase.

Reports have shown that teachers and principals at cash-strapped schools have been paying for their students’ textbooks and other supplies out of their own pockets.

A survey last year revealed that 92% of teachers spend their own money – in some cases more than $1,000 per year – on essential classroom materials.

Iman Ghodosi, vice-president and general manager Asia Pacific at enterprise software company Zuora, said students and teachers are thus embracing less expensive, more convenient methods of content delivery.

“Digital subscription offers on-demand access to online resources, meaning that students can choose to access resources for school from home, on the way to school or anywhere else, at any time without having to carry burdensome textbooks or worry about limited access to resources,” Ghodosi told The Educator.

“These services also enable publishers to analyse student demand to better tailor their resources and collections to meet student needs and interests.”

For students, says Ghodosi, this means always having resources available that best suit their studying needs.

“From a cost perspective, subscription services can ensure access to unlimited resources at a fraction of the cost of purchasing,” he said.

Ghodosi added that the rising popularity of online education tools, such as Lynda.com, is testament to this.

“From animation to programming, photography to accounting, Australian students now have an unprecedented opportunity to learn the digital skills that will be necessary… for jobs that don’t yet exist,” he said.

Another benefit of digital subscription, says Ghodosi, is that it ensures schools’ resources are up-to-date and interactive, while offering insights into the types of materials students are accessing, as well as how long they are accessing them for.

“These types of analytics are crucial, allowing educators to better understand their students’ different learning styles and tailor online resources to their individual needs,” he said.

“Additionally, digital content delivery streamlines the process of acquiring textbooks, alleviating some of the pressure on teachers when programming and sourcing materials each term.”


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