Mr James Brann, Director of Engagement and Strategic Practice Leader Transition at Charles Sturt University joins us at this year’s Australian Regional Development Conference to discuss “Bridging the digital divide – rural universities and accessible higher education“.

Bridging the Digital Divide - Rural Universities and Accessible Higher Education

James Brann

While we are continually told that the future of Australia is in the regions but our infrastructure to support this is lacking. Part of this future is well educated, socially mobile rural community. Many students from rural locations choose to learn online. Learning online depends upon internet connectivity that is of sufficient speed and stability to enable seamless and effective engagement. Evidence shows significant variance in internet connectivity across regional and remote areas of Australia. Such variability leads to inequities, and hampers some regional students’ online learning experiences.

In addition to this, anecdotal evidence indicates that financial constraints on regional LSES students’ impact upon their capacity to afford data plans of sufficient size to meet their needs. The inability to access affordable and reliable internet cumulatively impacts on the quality of regional LSES students’ learning experiences Understanding and responding to the context in which online students study is a vital component in Universities effectively facilitating regional student success.

The Outreach Team is the first of it’s kind with industry using innovative student service mechanisms to make vital contact with CSU students during important transition points.
This session looks at how Charles Sturt University’s award winning* Outreach Team bridges the digital divide in rural and remote areas of Australia. Predominantly this will look at:

  • The Industry leading Outreach sessions where CSU travels to locations all around Australia to make important face to face contact.
  • The creation of the first Online Study Student Representative Council The range of proactive and reactive support mechanisms the Outreach team engages in to support the development of rural education.

*The CSU Outreach Team won the Equity and Opportunity category at the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards in 2016.

The 2017 Australian Regional Development Conference will focus on issues surrounding the Economy, Planning, Environment and Community Development while considering the “State of the Regions Report” which called for support of regional economic development through diverse infrastructure investments determined by regional priorities in partnership with Local Government. 

Find out more about what’s on for this year here.