Geelong Secondary Schools & Community Digital Learning Hub

Education and training Pillar

The Need

There is a critical demand for improved access to digital learning and cloud-based resources to meet the contemporary demands of students and teachers in the G21 region.

Only 60.6% of young people (20-24 years old) in the G21 region have completed year 12 or equivalent, compared to an average of nearly 78% in metropolitan Melbourne. It is time to redress the disadvantage of regional schools relative to their city counterparts.

The G21 region suffers poor access to a high-speed internet platform. It does not have the capacity to meet the needs of local schools, which are endeavouring to provide digital access to 500+ users per site. Speed is slow and bandwidth so limited that delivery of a digital learning agenda is impossible.

This limits the standard of education that teachers can provide to students. Modern teaching methods require sophisticated, high capacity digital connectivity; within schools, between schools and with the broader internet community.

A world-class Geelong Secondary Schools and Community (GSSC) Digital Learning Hub and Ecosystem will benefit 12,000 students and their 600 teachers across Geelong and the region, providing access to a truly unique digital learning network.

It will improve access and collaboration, offering more flexible learning to regional and rural students.

E-learning will easily allow students to study subjects that are not otherwise available to them (often necessary because low numbers don’t justify subject delivery at individual schools), and provide greater collaboration for students at schools with small class sizes.

It will also provide students greater access to digital resources from Australia’s leading education providers, sporting institutions, museums, galleries and businesses.

Students at 30 schools across the G21 region will benefit from new learning opportunities, better preparing them for life in the rapidly changing workplace. It would also enhance their prospects as future entrepreneurs in the region’s growing technology sector.

Project Aims

A world-class GSSC Digital Learning Hub and Ecosystem will benefit 12,000 students and their 600 teachers across Geelong and the region, providing access to a truly unique digital learning network.

The Digital Learning Hub will deliver world class, high-speed internet access through Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet), enabling students and teachers in the G21 region to become leaders in a digital age.

It will work with the Ecosystem to create a showcase for helping students transition to the digital economy.

The GSSC Digital Learning Hub and Ecosystem partners G21 region secondary schools (Catholic, Independent & Government) with Deakin University, The Gordon and Geelong Regional Library Corporation to share infrastructure and resources that will expand digital access to the community.

The project will strategically realign the G21 region from its traditional manufacturing centre to be a leader in digital learning. It will provide a high-speed platform for innovation, education, research, collaboration and e-commerce. This will improve future education prospects for students and increase their employability.

AARNet (a not-for-profit company owned by Australian universities and the CSIRO) will provide each partner with a high-speed connection of 1Gbs to meet the learning requirements of their students, teachers and wider community. No other telecommunication provider (including the NBN Co) can provide the learning content to the number of users that each of the GSSC Digital Learning Hub partners support at their individual sites.

AARNet will also provide partners with access to eduroam, a global network access service that provides students and teachers with seamless wireless and internet connectivity when moving to or visiting universities, further learning institutions and research facilities worldwide.

Technology upgrades and tools such as SparkBoards will create state-of-the-art Smart Classrooms across the region, opening a door for students who currently have no access, or limited access to technology.

However, the ecosystem is much more than technology-based upgrades.

It is designed to expose students and their teachers to new ideas, curriculum content and support opportunities, such as:

  • Digital Schools Network enabling collaboration with schools in Asia, the US and NZ
  • Cisco Network Academy giving access to one million students, 20,000 instructors and 9,500 global academics
  • Virtual excursions developed by Curtain, Flinders, La Trobe and Queensland universities
  • Deakin ‘experts in schools’ program making Deakin staff available to provide specialist expertise and knowledge on many subjects.

Project Champion

Craig Warren, Deakin eSolutions, Deakin University.

Benefits for Victoria and the G21 region

The GSSC Digital Learning Hub and Ecosystem will:

  • ensure sustainable access to a high-speed digital learning platform for the next 10-15 years
  • provide a world-class digital learning platform with adequate capacity (1Gbs +) to meet contemporary education needs
  • improve the capacity to overcome regional disadvantage, improve student learning outcomes and school engagement
  • provide new and sustainable networks between schools in the region and beyond.

A Business Case for the Digital Learning Hub was released in September 2015.

What is required

A State and Federal Government commitment of:

  • $4.7 million to deliver a Digital Learning Hub that will provide high-speed learning platforms to each partner location.

Note: Each project partner is committed to an initial infrastructure investment and a recurrent ongoing subscription cost to connect to AARNet.

  • $3 million to deliver a Digital Schools Ecosystem that will provide world-leading technology and learning resources to young people at schools across the G21 region.

Note: Establishment and ongoing operation of this initiative will cost $5 million over three years. Contributions from Deakin (> $1 million) and Cisco/other industry partners leaves a shortfall of $3 million.