It's time to bridge the geographical divide, which still shapes educational privilege in Australia. We are at a point in history where equity of support is entirely possible, at-scale, and the benefits of just-in-time, personal, formative feedback are well documented and proven. Here is Studiosity's response to the National Independent Review into Regional, Rural, and Remote Education.
Dear Professor Halsey, and the IRRRRE team
I write to offer support for your regional, rural, and remote education review. My organisation has bridged the education equity gap between schools for over a decade - particularly those disadvantaged by distance from urban centres. As a result, I know that the experience and data I can offer here can contribute directly to this critical review.
With better technology and better internet connections, there is now little reason why resources accessible to urban students - including teachers and other specialists and after-hours support - can't be available to every student, without regard for geographical circumstances.
How can Australia start bridging the education divide? Photo: Standley Chasm, Alice Springs Source: redzaustraliaAs an example, we have worked with Tenison Woods College in Mount Gambier for five years - a regional school that has used the Studiosity service to augment school support with the support of hundreds of other teachers around the country, for student access after hours.
How it works for students
When a student has a question after hours when their real teacher isn't available, they 'Connect Now,' define their question to the best of their ability, and are connected one-to-one to a Subject Specialist in that field (maths, English, sciences.)
The Subject Specialist - a real person from around Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Canada - in the 'online classroom' uses chat and interactive whiteboards to scaffold the problem and develop the student's confidence to come to their own conclusion. The student's confidence as well as the solution are both treated as equally important outcomes for long-term student benefit.
Importantly, students can also leave a writing file of any kind and receive formative feedback in less than 24 hours.
A level playing field
The service is based on the benefits of formative feedback - which literature repeatedly points to as a driver of student success. Most recently, Dr Gerard Calnin at Melbourne University showed how on-demand, timely feedback increases student confidence and academic outcomes.
Our work with more than 1 million students has shown that regional, remote, and rural students are disproportionately disadvantaged by long travel times to and from school, often in addition to sport, and/or supporting a family property. Tenison Woods specifically saw the challenge of long-commute times, and partnered with us to ensure that students could receive help during peak study times - after dinner, weekends, and over holidays. Their results have been exceptional, and I'm sure the Principal, David Mezinec, would be interested in contributing to your research if you require.
Of note is the work of Dr Chris Tisdell, Associate Dean (Education) at UNSW - and now on our Academic Advisory Board - whose professional mission is to bridge the resources gap for students studying maths - freely distributing maths tutorials to ensure that students, no matter their location, have the same opportunity to get own-pace help with their problems.
Further, James Cook University released data this year showing correlation between first year students using Studiosity and their improved academic performance over non-users in the same band of performance. Students who used Studiosity, who had entered university with lower entrance scores, showed the most improvement (Page 33).
We would be proud make our data and experience available to support your work and this critical study
Any proposed solution will be inevitably complex, and we are looking forward to your final review. Our specific experience has shown that personalised student support, delivered at the precise moment of need during study, improves the confidence and academic performance of students who would have otherwise fallen below average. We have also seen that a solution must support teaching staff as well as students, and give the school leaders clarity and control over their own cohorts as well, using behavioural and quantitative data every day of the year.
Founder, Executive Chair