Open Access College

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The Open Access College (Open Access College School of the Air, OAC) is a public provider located in the south of Australia.

The Open Access College is an innovative South Australian Government distance education school that provides interactive distance education to geographically remote and isolated students all accross Australia, who are unable to attend a local school or access curriculum in their own school, and admits students from Year 7. They consider themselves as leaders in flexible and online learning. OAC uses Moodle and Centra (now called Saba).

Over 2,500 students from reception to year 12, including adult re-entry, enrol with the Open Access College annually. Their flexible approach to teaching enables students to achieve their best while taking responsibility for their own learning. By studying with the Open Access College students develop the motivation and skills for lifelong learning.

They make use of broadband internet and a virtual classroom using a central software. Learning by distance at the Open Access College occurs in a variety of ways. They have developed and use a range of teaching and learning methods, including:

  • Broadband internet virtual classrooms
  • Telephone or online lessons in small groups
  • Specialised course booklets
  • Custom-designed support materials including DVDs, CDs and activity kits
  • Face-to-face workshops, mini schools, camps and excursions
  • Visits from teachers

Communication between students and teachers is via post, email, phone or fax.

The Open Access College caters for students unable to either attend a local school or access curriculum in their own school. The Port Augusta campus caters for reception to year 7 and the Marden campus for reception to year 12 students.

The Open Access College has its main campus at Port Augusta, commonly known as Campus of the Open Access College of Distance Education. It also has another campus at Marden in Adelaide.

The Open Access College's website is http://www.openaccess.edu.au/index.html

More Details

OAC was a case study for the publication: Perspectives on Distance Education: Open Schooling in the 21st Century, Dominique A.M.X. Abrioux and Frances Ferreira, Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning, 2009, http://www.col.org/PublicationDocuments/pub_PS_OpenSchooling_web.pdf, August 2011.


According to OECD's Innovative Learning Environment Project, the Open Access College Middle Years programme features mixed-aged grouping, effective use of ICT, and collaborative and individualised learning through methods including:

  • Formalised half-hour long telephone or online Centra sessions with individuals or small groups conducted up to 7 times per week.
  • Specialised resource materials provided for individual and group work in the form of on line integrated learning programs, internet research guides, and customised/personalised learning materials such as DVDs, CDs and activity kits.
  • Face-to face workshops, mini schools, visits from teachers, camps and excursions.

Learners within the Middle School have contact during six half-hour periods weekly to engage in the curriculum, and an extra half-hour contact period for ‘home group’ activities related to student organisation and wellbeing. Contact is made in multi-age grouping of around 8 students studying at Year 7-9 level via Centra (online learning platform).


Providing distance education to students at other 'home schools'

In the case of students based at other schools, their school is encouraged to provide a suitable learning space, including appropriate technology. They are also encouraged to appoint an Open Access Coordinator, a staff member whose role involves coordinating all Open Access learning within their site and acts as the key contact person between the college and the school.


Funding

The Open Access College is funded by the South Australian Government, similar to all other public schools, on the basis of student numbers from Reception to Year 12. The complexities of teaching students in settings off site are recognised by a reduction in class sizes by 25%. The South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) also supports the development of learning materials by providing additional funding for staff. The Open Access College receives additional funding through its Rural Index score to provide programmes which encourage rural and remote students and their families to attend school community and face to face activities.


Source: Open Access College Middle Years Program, OECD - Innovative Learning Environment Project - Universe Case, February 2012, http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/54/12/49746009.pdf, May 2012

References


> Australia

> Australasia