Education in Australia: transforming for the 2020 economy

Digital transformation is revolutionising Australian education. With students’ learning journeys top of mind, progressive educators and institutions are exploring new ways to prepare today’s students for the challenges of tomorrow.

Together with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBR-AS), we set out to explore how Australian schools and higher education institutions are approaching digital transformation. Our report Education in Australia: transforming for the 2020 economy sheds light on the drivers of change in our education sector and how institutions are embracing digital solutions to improve outcomes.

Driving change

There are three key drivers of change in the Australian education sector. These include the need to:

  1. Remain competitive in a global marketplace
  2. Address national and international skills inequalities
  3. Prepare students to prosper in an uncertain future.

International assessments show Australian school students are falling behind their peers in other countries in literacy, numeracy and science rankings. While this is a threat to our international competitiveness, we’re seeing similar disparities on home soil between geographical areas and groups of varying socio-economic status. Deteriorating skills and unequal skill distribution are serious concerns if we expect Australian children to be able to collaborate with each other and compete in a global employment market.

Our higher education sector is also being pushed to change. Universities and vocational education providers face growing pressure to unbundle their programs and offer more virtual learning opportunities for students who are starting to find existing education routes rigid and impractical.

Uncertainty is another major driver of transformation. To thrive in ambiguous and volatile environments, students need new, unconventional teaching materials and methods that give them practical knowledge and skills they can apply outside an education setting.

Improving outcomes

Our report shows forward-thinking institutions in Australia are already reimagining operations inside and outside the classroom. They are using digital technologies to deliver more engaging and meaningful instruction when, where and how students require it.

One such school system is Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA), a Catholic education system with nearly 78,000 students and 15,000 staff members across the state. CEWA’s LEADing Lights platform deploys a broad array of cloud-based technologies to empower teachers, provide more equitable access to best-practice learning, and transform student outcomes. CEWA is also developing solutions to help students who live remotely, or who have special needs, to access the richest education programs and experiences. You can learn more about CEWA’s digital platform here.

Looking to the future

New education models push us to re-imagine what we teach and how we learn. By strengthening teachers’ abilities and empowering students to take charge of their own learning experiences, digital transformation can open up a world of opportunity for the Australian education sector.

Microsoft is partnering with schools and tertiary institutions to achieve this transformation. We are helping develop digital solutions that engage students, empower teachers, optimise institutions and transform learning. On top of this, we are championing initiatives to improve the nation’s proficiency in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and helping deploy solutions for stronger and more equitable learning outcomes.

As the Australian education sector continues to embrace change, our schools and universities will improve their international ranking, boost enrolments and retention, and open up employment opportunities. Most importantly, a transformed Australian education sector will be best placed to prepare students to thrive in an unknown future.

You can learn more about how our education sector is transforming in our report Education in Australia: transforming for the 2020 economy.

Finally, I encourage you to join us at Microsoft Summit, 14 November in Sydney. We have a dedicated Education track including; If robots are going to destroy jobs, are they going to destroy education too?, Empowering citizens through digital transformation & Diversity and inclusion – empowering people to achieve more. Register here for your free ticket.