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Boost for UNE’s Asia ConneXions program

The University of New England’s Asia ConneXions project has been awarded $558,000 by the Australian Government through the National Broadband Network – Enabled Education and Skills Services (NBN-EESS) program. The Asia ConneXions project was one of 12 projects picked for the NBN-EESS program nationwide, and the only one from UNE and Armidale. The Asia ConneXions program connects Australian schools with schools in Korea, Japan, China, and Indonesia using high definition videoconferencing. The goals of the program are to provide rural/regional students with opportunities for global experiences by interacting with their Asian peers through videoconferencing and to motivate Australian students to learn about Asia. The Project team includes Dr Myung-sook Auh (Program Director), Professor John Pegg, and Dr Chris Reading.

Dr Auh said the Asia ConneXions program contributed to the Australian Government’s “Australia in the Asian Century” policy, which suggests that Asia is important to Australia because Australia’s close relationships with Asian countries can provide Australia with opportunities and challenges economically, politically, socially, and strategically.

“Asian language education has been promoted through a Federal government investment of $63 million over 2009-2011, but the most difficult aspect in teaching Asian languages has been to motivate Australian students to learn the languages,” Dr Auh said. “Videoconferencing is a highly effective alternative way to teach Asian cultures, which in turn helps students in learning the languages.”

Dr Auh said the new funding would allow the project to connect Australian and Asian students through high definition videoconferencing; increase the numbers of connected schools to 35 pairs of Australian and Asian schools; encourage Australian students to watch snapshots of video recordings from their videoconferencing sessions at home with their parent(s) and siblings as a way to start “global education from home”; and sustain the Asia ConneXions beyond the project period (2012-2014).

Participating schools in Armidale are (in alphabetical order) Armidale City Public School, Ben Venue Public School, Duval High School, Martin’s Gully Public School, and O’Connor Catholic College; and the other participating schools are Glen Innes High School, Glen Innes West Infants School, Kambora Public School, Nemingha Public School, Pymble Ladies College, Quirindi Public School, Tacking Point Public School, Temora High School, and Wollumbin High School.

The project’s industry partners include Samyang Data Systems in Korea, Cisco Australia, and Cisco Japan; with further support from the Australia-Korea Foundation of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the Catholic Schools Office Armidale, Daejeon Metropolitan Office of Education, and Asiana Airlines.

Media enquiries: Dr Myung-sook Auh, School of Education and SiMERR National Centre, UNE; tel-w: 02) 6773-2917, mobile, 0410-611-642.

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