| Sep 29, 2015
Author: Tim Dodd
Source: Financial Review
Two successful Australian edtech start-ups, Open Learning and Smart Sparrow, have announced they will offer their separate products as one package to give educators access to more powerful course- building software.
OpenLearning CEO Adam Brimo said that by offering Smart Sparrow with OpenLearning's platform students would get a "seamless learning environment".
The partnership brings together two companies which have already gained a strong foothold in the rapidly changing ﬁeld of educational software. OpenLearning has been adopted by Malaysian public universities to take their courses online and Smart Sparrow is making inroads into the highly competitive US market with its "adaptive learning" tools.
Smart Sparrow's adaptive approach means that learning software interacts with students, offering them different responses based on what they give back, resulting in a richer and more personalised learning experience.
OpenLearning says that a drawcard for its software platform is its social learning capability, which encourages students to interact and learn from each other. The two companies believe the engagement with students generated in OpenLearning's social learning approach complements the more personalised bespoke approach of Smart Sparrow's adaptive learning.
Smart Sparrow founder Dror Ben-Naim said his company's collaboration with Smart Sparrow would expand the options for educators.
"When I learnt that some courses and universities have been using both Smart Sparrow and OpenLearning separately, we saw an opportunity to introduce our platform through OpenLearning to make it easier for educators to create their courses in the one environment," he said.
The two companies said their collaboration would include combining their marketing and business development efforts.
OpenLearning has been adopted by the Malaysian government as the platform for the country's public universities, to reach its goal of blending online learning with on- campus courses.
Earlier this month the country's 20 public universities launched 60 new massive open online courses (or MOOCs) on the OpenLearning platform, bringing the total to 64. Over 75,000 students from the 20 universities have enrolled in the MOOCs.
The Malaysian government aims to teach 15 per cent of all public university courses online as MOOCs by the end of this year, rising to 30 per cent by 2020. The courses are free and available to the public as well as enrolled university students.
Both Smart Sparrow and OpenLearning originated in research work at UNSW where Mr Brimo and Dr Ben-Naim both studied. UNSW deputy vice-chancellor (education) Iain Martin said the university was "pleased and excited" about the collaboration. He said UNSW would work with both companies "as we roll out our own educational strategy in the coming months".
The two companies launched separately in 2012, each targeting different parts of the growing online education sector.
OpenLearning is a platform for creating and delivering online courses. Users, including educational institutions, can put their own branding on their courses, which are hosted in the cloud.
Smart Sparrow's technology is more focused, concentrating on making the online educational experience interactive, and offers realistic online simulations that students can engage with.