Online teaching and learning has its own pros and cons; but one of the challenges of quality tech is no more an issue. World-class platforms now exist to make sure that online teaching and learning environments are smooth and cost-efficient.
To discuss this topic we recently got a chance to speak to Adam Brimo, CEO for OpenLearning.com about his journey and reason why OpenLearning has been successfully able to manage millions of students from across the globe.
- What’s the best way to define OpenLearning?
OpenLearning is a turn-key solution for educators and institutions worldwide to deliver world-class online teaching and learning. This includes our cloud-hosted social online learning platform, expertise in learning design services, and a global marketplace for delivering MOOCs, short courses, blended learning, graduate certificates and online degree programmes.
What is OpenLearning?
- What problem are you solving, for whom & how?
Traditional models of education are no longer cost-effective, student expectations have increased and online learning has progressed. OpenLearning provides a complete learning environment that fuses content and community with online collaboration and real-world tasks to create memorable, motivating and transformative learning experience across both formal and informal education.
OpenLearning’s success is a result of the quality of our service offering, which includes both the OpenLearning platform as well as learning/courseware design services to ensure that courses are designed effectively and take advantage of proven and cutting edge pedagogy, including fostering a community of students who encourage, motivate and communicate with each other throughout the course.
With OpenLearning, educators and institutions worldwide are able to solve the fundamental challenges in higher education today, which are flexibility in curating high quality learning experiences, increasing access to education, and the ability to cost-effectively penetrate new segments of the online learning market. To date, OpenLearning has hosted over 1.3 million students and 5,000 courses across 180 countries.
- Who were your early adopters? How many users/clients currently use OpenLearning? How do you keep a check on user satisfaction in institutions you work with?
Since 2012, OpenLearning has partnered with Australian universities and organisations including University of New South Wales, University of Melbourne, Flinders University, Charles Sturt University, Australian Federal Government, Hunter TAFE, Association of Independent Schools NSW and others to deliver both formal and informal education to both existing and off-campus students.
In September 2014, The Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education selected OpenLearning as the national Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform for public universities. We have since partnered with 20 public universities, 10 private universities and 34 polytechnics in Malaysia to deliver over 600 courses to 600,000 on-campus and international students.
Throughout the years, OpenLearning has built a strong network of educators, learners, decision makers and partners that support the continual improvement of our platform and service offering. Together with our Product, Partnerships and Customer Success teams, we monitor platform data, educational policy and market trends to address the needs of our users both regionally and globally to ensure satisfaction and retention.
- OpenLearning is a proven, globally scalable, social online learning platform
- 5,000 courses have been run on OpenLearning by over 65 education providers
- 15,000 lecturers/teachers have designed or facilitated courses on OpenLearning
- 1,300,000 students globally are enrolled in courses on OpenLearning
- Over 60,000,000 behavioral events logged, 100 times more than other platforms
- How did this start? Tell us about your team, who do you have supporting you? Including mention of recent investors and partners.
OpenLearning was founded in October 2012 by Adam Brimo (CEO), David Collien (CTO) and UNSW Professor Richard Buckland out of a passion to improve access to quality education by enabling anyone in the world to design and deliver effective online courses. Today, OpenLearning is considered an Australian innovation and technology success story with 70 employees across its head office in Sydney and regional office in Kuala Lumpur.
More recently, OpenLearning has raised A$8.5 million, bringing our total funding to A$13.7 million since our launch, taking our post-money valuation to A$33.5 million. The series A capital raise was led by two public listed Malaysian companies, Prestariang Berhad, Malaysia’s leading technology and talent platform innovator, and Paramount Corporation Berhad, a top tier education and property development company.
The raise was also backed by a number of Australian investors, including OpenLearning’s Chairman, Clive Mayhew, Robin and Susan Yandle, Telstra’s Muru-D, former CEO of Zip Industries, Michael Lee and Australian angel investors.
- How does OpenLearning plan to utilize the recent round of AU$8.5m in funding? What are OpenLearning’s expansion plans for the coming years?
OpenLearning will use this new funding to solidify our position in Australia and Malaysia, with plans for expansion in Southeast Asia.
The capital raise will allow us to further develop our platform and service offering at a greater scale to meet growing demand for online teaching and learning solutions that are in line with Industry 4.0. We will continue building upon our innovative product and impact-driven company while aiming to solve the fundamental challenges in higher education: access, cost and quality. This includes platform improvements, improving user experience, growing our Partnerships and Learning Services teams and building a stronger presence in the region.
- What is the biggest need/void in your firm in spite of the fund raised?
We are looking to partner with more universities around the world to enable them to deliver high quality education at scale.
- How different is higher education market in Australia in comparison to other developed or developing parts of the world?
Australia has a well developed higher education system and a slow rate of population growth, which means that the universities are competing for a limited number of students. In fast growing markets, the number of students enrolling in higher education is increasing and universities are looking for solutions to increase access to education in addition to improving quality.
Australian education providers are well regarded and attract international students from around the world, contributing about $28 billion to the Australian economy each year. Our partnerships and growth in Southeast Asia can directly benefit Australian educational institutions, enabling them to cost-effectively penetrate new student markets by delivering off-campus short courses, graduate certificates and online degree programmes.
- Who would you call your competitors? And how are you different?
OpenLearning is different to other platforms. Our goal is to enable effective, enjoyable and transformative online teaching and learning experiences for anyone around the world.
OpenLearning engages in learning sciences research to inform and guide the iterative construction of our online learning platform, and the scaling of our educational solutions. The platform encourages a move beyond content delivery and supports the co-construction of knowledge, facilitates social learning, and fosters communities of practice.
OpenLearning is built upon three core philosophies: community and connectedness, authentic active learning experiences, and student empowerment. With this, the platform is designed for intrinsically motivated deep learning to engage students with positive and interactive learning experiences. The goal is to move beyond traditional instructivist teaching approaches to constructivist learning environments.
OpenLearning partners with higher education institutions and connects with passionate educators. This provides us with a wealth of insight and informed approaches to building effective learning environments. We began as academics and educators in both computer engineering and education and we see this cross-disciplinary expertise as our greatest strength.
- What advice do you have for institutions in this digital age?
Although online learning has been around for a long time, only now are we seeing the true potential of online education to increase access and quality in higher education. Everyday, universities around the world are moving online and it’s time for every institution to look at delivering more of their courses online.