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Asia Connexions Knox
27 May, 2015

Leading the way with virtual language and cultural exchanges

AARNet's high quality low latency network and video conferencing expertise have been critical to the success of UNE's Asia ConneXions program for developing global competencies in school-age children

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.

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 a high-speed network 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.

AARNet-connected schools are well positioned to use R&E network infrastructure to participate in this program, with an increasing number joining for weekly or fortnightly video conferencing sessions with Asian schools.

Abbotsleigh, Pymble Ladies College and Knox Grammar School, NSW; Scotch College and Presbyterian Ladies College, WA; Calvin Christian School, TAS; Canberra Grammar School, ACT; and St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School, QLD are among the AARNet-connected schools nationwide participating in the Asia ConneXions program.

AARNet works closely with groups like the Asia ConneXions team to enable and facilitate connections between classrooms globally.

"Seeing students and teachers collaborating and sharing their culture, knowledge and ideas with other students around the world is priceless. Children involved with these types of programs learn that the world is a big place, but only a click away, " says Waran Naidu, AARNet's Product Solutions Enablement and Support Manager.

When integrating technology into teaching languages, the technology should not get in the way. HD video conferencing makes students’ interaction highly engaging, and motivates Australian students to study Asian languages. The versatility of the AARNet network enabled us to develop this program.”

University of New England
Myung Suk Auh

Program Director for Asia ConneXions and Senior Lecturer at UNE