Is NSW's Office 365 classroom the school of the future?

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Is NSW's Office 365 classroom the school of the future?

The Department of Education & Communities has launched Aurora College, an online secondary school aimed at bridging the gap between rural and city students.

Selected students are able to access online classes that wouldn’t otherwise be available in their school. Teachers conduct classes via web conference while remaining in their current schools.

The Aurora College virtual classroom is built on Office 365, giving students and teachers access to Class Notebook Creator for OneNote and OneDrive for creating and sharing workspaces. Students can type their responses and receive instant feedback from teachers, as well as participate in classroom discussions with other students.

“We are addressing a major equity issue affecting talented students in regional areas – students who have previously been unable to access the subjects and resources they need,” said NSW minister for Education & Communities Adrian Piccoli.

An initial 160 students are participating from 49 schools, ranging from years seven to 11. HSC-level courses will be offered to year 12 students in 2016.

Years seven to 10 students are able to access classes in English, maths and science, while years 11 and 12 students are able to study a range of specialist subjects. These include agriculture, chemistry, economics, English extensions one and two and maths extensions one and two.

Aurora College does not have a BYOD component; instead students and teachers use 190 Ultrabooks donated by HP.

Cloud-based technology is stamping its mark on education. Melbourne reseller Source Central Partners recently fitted out a “cloud school” using using Google Apps and an AWS virtual server. In January, Intel unveiled its “classroom-in-a-box” device that provides cloud-based teaching without the need for internet access.

But the education market remains big business for resellers. For instance, Queensland reseller Secure Access recently sold over 700 Apple devices to Matthew Flinders Anglican College in a deal worth more than $1 million.

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