Last time we spoke to Wes Sonnenreich from Intersective. Today we introduce another mentor who is also a sponsor for Sydney Startup Weekend EDU 2014 – Adam Brimo from Openlearning.
Openlearning has sponsored a special prize for the winning team at Sydney SWEDU 2014.
Adam, please introduce yourself to our audience?
I’m the co-founder and CEO of OpenLearning, based in Sydney Australia. I have an Engineering (software) degree and an arts (politics) degree from UNSW. I previously started Vodafail.com, a consumer activist campaign in 2010-2011, which resulted in nationwide media coverage, an ACMA inquiry and a $1bn network upgrade for Vodafone’s Australian business. I’ve also worked at Macquarie Bank and Westpac Institutional Bank and I’ve been dedicated to OpenLearning for about 2 years now. In my spare time I enjoy reading the news and following politics.
What is your area of expertise?
I guess that would be product management, software engineering and business strategy.
What motivated you to start Openlearning?
What are your expectations from the SWEDU event?
We’re looking forward to seeing an enthusatic group of people come up with and implement ideas that improve education. As many people have different approaches to teaching and learning, I’m expecting to see a range of new and interesting ideas emerge.
What do you think schools/colleges would look like in 5 years?
Schools/colleges vary greatly based on region, funding and target market. A school in inner Sydney has more in common with a school in Kuala Lumpur than in outback Northern Territory. In 5 years rural and poorly funded schools may still lack reliable internet access and quality teachers, wealthy inner city schools may be tracking sentiment in class, engaging students across multiple devices and conducting classes with students halfway around the world. It’s never a question of what is possible, rather whether there is the schools have the motivation, resources and knowledge required to implement these changes.
What are the trends/challenges that you see for education in the future?
Universities are facing many challenges, in particular they have high fixed costs funded by variable revenue streams. On top of that, most universities are heavily focused on research and don’t put enough resources into teaching. Academics are hired for research and do the best they can with few resources and little time for teaching students. This module is becoming unsustainable as more education moves online and students are demanding higher quality teaching and more value for money (particularly in the United States).
Universities need to change but campus-based education is not going away and I don’t believe it should. Going to a university is a life changing experience for most students. University can be a place for students to learn about new topics, make new friends, gain experience organising events and managing students societies. These are valuable skills and when coupled with great courses that involve group work, student interaction and exploration, it is a wonderful experience. More of this experience will happen online through platforms like OpenLearning but it’s not going away. I was lucky to have that experience at university and I hope students in the future can too.
What are some ways to keep updated about Edtech news/events in Sydney?
The main way is to join the SydEduTech facebook group as anything and everything related to edtech is posted there by the community (in particular by EdTech expert Terry Hilsberg).
About #sydswedu 2014
When: 27th June 2014 – 29th June 2014
Where: Muru-D Campus, 363 Oxford St., Paddington, NSW Australia.
Event Website: http://sydneyedu.startupweekend.org/
Tickets: Please purchase your tickets at the Eventbrite page