Competition in Australia’s multi-billion-dollar education sector is driving institutions to embrace data analytics and cloud-based solutions and to invest in collaborative and interactive learning technologies, edu-tech experts say.
Higher education institutions spend an estimated $1.9bn on an array of ICT initiatives and this figure is growing at a healthy 5%, year on year.
“It’s a big sector – education exports alone are worth an estimated $28bn a year and there are five million individuals currently enrolled in tertiary courses – but it’s quite fragmented,” says Mark Dougan, managing director at analyst firm, Frost and Sullivan Australia.
Speaking during a round-table discussion in Sydney on technology trends and cyber-security in Australia’s school, university and vocational education sectors, Dougan said institutions were increasingly using ICT as a differentiator in a market that’s competitive and becoming even more so.
“Institutions are investing in a range of applications, from learning management and student management systems through to business applications such as CRM and payroll which are customised to suit the unique requirements of the sector,” Dougan says.
Collaboration in the classroom
Damian Aivaliotis, strategy and portfolio manager of Digital Automation at Ricoh, a leading provider of smart workplace technology, says the trend towards collaborative learning makes it incumbent upon institutions to explore tools and solutions which facilitate the practice.
“Activity based learning and group work are a feature of the higher education environment and technologies which make it easier for students and educators to connect and collaborate with one another can enhance the learning experience,”
Mark Sinclair, ANZ regional director at WatchGuard Technologies, a leader in advanced network security solutions, says educational institutions are grappling with similar security challenges to those being tackled by their counterparts in other sectors and they need to invest in security apace.
“With hacking and phishing on the rise, schools need to take a rigorous approach to threats, be vigilant against attacks and privacy breaches and use tools and technologies strategically, to safeguard their IT assets and school and student data.”
K-12 schools have a particularly responsibility to ensure the cyber-safety of their students and education is the key to minimising risk, Sinclair says.
“Ongoing education is a vital component of any cyber-security strategy and for educational institutions that means teaching staff and students to be more aware of the risks they face online and the things they can do to manage them.”
Round table participants agreed technology would play a key role in ensuring Australia’s education sector continues to meet the learning needs of students at all stages of their journeys.
“It’s also essential institutions remain focused on deriving maximum value from the public and private funding they receive and strategic investment in ICT projects and initiatives is part of that,” Dougan says.