Since 2013, AARNet has been working with the Asia ConneXions program based at the University of New England (UNE) to connect Australian schools with schools in Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia and India over high-speed networks using high definition (HD) video conferencing for Asian languages and cultural exchanges.
Five-year-olds who start school in Australia today will enter their adult lives at the time the Asian region will host the world’s most influential economies.
Preparing for a hyper connected Asian-centric world requires school age students to develop global competencies including knowledge and understanding of Asian societies, cultures, beliefs and environments, and the connections between the peoples of Asia, Australia and the rest of the world.
Through the Asia ConneXions program schools in Australia and Asia are partnering to establish cultural and language exchanges as a way of fostering understanding between Australian and Asian students and teachers and developing global competencies in school-age children.
The program has gained momentum since AARNet first provided HD virtual meeting rooms as a solution for both overcoming security policy related connectivity (firewall) issues in Australian school systems and enabling a high quality experience in the classroom.
Following a successful trial period, Asia ConneXions is now using the AARNet Zoom video conferencing service to regularly deliver successful virtual exchange experiences to more schools across Australia and Asia.
UNE Senior Lecturer and Program Director, Dr Myung-sook Auh, says HD video conferencing facilitates interaction and engagement between very different cultures.
“Audio quality is essential for effective communication between Australian and Asian students and most software solutions do not compare to HD video conferencing. We have developed a program that provides Australian students with opportunities to listen to authentic pronunciations of Asian languages from their Asian peers in high quality audio,” she said.
The high quality low latency performance of R&E networks such as AARNet is critical to the success of each engagement as students carefully attune to grammatical and gestural nuances in learning effective communication.
“The program’s success lies in its ability to provide participants with a very personal and experiential opportunity to learn about the diversity within and between the countries of the Asia region. It has the potential to improve Asian languages teaching in schools, and reverse the current trend of decreasing uptake of Asian language studies, ” said Auh.