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Date published: 8 March 2013

8 March 2013

There is no question that online education is the future of the tertiary sector, with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott recently proclaiming that the nation should embrace this phenomenon.

According to Open Universities Australia (OUA), while it's great that people are acknowledging the need for this type of change, it's also crucial to understand that the future student is dramatically transforming too and will shape the industry in the years to come.

"Currently our own children are extremely tech-savvy from an early age and engage in various online learning activities. It's only natural that they will grow up with the expectation of completing degrees online. In other words, online won't just be about convenience, it will simply be an accepted and expected way of learning," say Mr Wappett, CEO of OUA.

Mr Wappett predicts that technological and societal change will render many things obsolete in the lives of students, including desktop computers and handheld digital devices, their unquestioning faith in subject matter experts, a world with borders and restrictions on the availability of information.

"If this is the case, we need to prepare ourselves and consider how to meet the needs of students in the future," says Mr Wappett.

"To remain current, institutions will need to offer options for incredibly mobile students who won't want to be constrained by semesters and who won't hesitate to migrate to a better offer.

"Data linked to student behaviour will continue to be king to help us develop the best models to keep students engaged. It will help us determine which techniques will help students understand concepts and successfully complete their studies.

"Bombarded with more information in real-time than any other generation and having a growing skepticism towards information sources, our role in helping students navigate what they hear, watch and read - deciphering opinion from fact - will be more important than ever before.

"The key to future success therefore lies in creating learning, teaching and assessment models that are flexible and fluid enough to change as students and society change," says Mr Wappett.

Mr Wappett's final view is that there will be a growing appetite for free open online education, which will evolve into a sophisticated, high quality experience designed with the online student in mind.

"It will transform from what we see today into something that provides increased equality, real outcomes and will elevate online education in general, as the mode of choice for students because it will deliver better educational outcomes and a greater student experience."

About Open Universities Australia - leading online learning

Owned by seven of Australia's premier universities, OUA is the national leader in quality online tertiary education. Enrolling more than 250,000 students since 1993, OUA provides access to over 1700 units and 180 qualifications taught by more than 20 leading Australian universities and TAFEs.

For further information, please contact:
Jessica Singh
Manager, Corporate Communications, PR & Sponsorships
Open Universities Australia
Ph: 03 8628 2412
Mobile: 0419 662 553
E: jessica.singh@open.edu.au