The Armidale Express – 20th Feb 2012

Creating Whiz Kids

ARMIDALE’S position in the digital economy has been strengthened after the launch of a locally developed online learning system at the Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) on Friday.
ZooWhiz, developed by Armidale educational software company EdAlive, was officially launched in front of PLC students by Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy and Member for New
England Tony Windsor.
The program, which won the education category of the 2011 Northern Inland Innovation Awards, is an interactive online learning system for students aged 5-15 and uses cartoon zoo animals to teach maths, reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Up to 25,000 students in 25 countries signed up to ZooWhiz during its preliminary testing phase.
“It’s a quality online learning system that integrates learning between home and school, and is designed to solve the access and equity issues in Australia and other countries around the world,” EdAlive managing director Graham East said.
“ZooWhiz.com harnesses kids’ love of animals and games to create a flexible, curriculum-correlated, motivational environment that promotes learning and recognises each child’s learning needs are different.”
The bulk of the website is free to use, but fee-based premium services will be gradually introduced overtime.
PLC was chosen due to its early connection to the National Broadband Network, and Mr East hopes to supply the program to other schools across the country and overseas as the fibre-optic network is rolled out.
“We hope to expand that rapidly right across Australia and have plans to do marketing in the United States, the United Kingdom and then other places as well,” he said.
Senator Conroy, who was also in Armidale to view the NBN-based SMARTFarm and QuickSmart initiatives at the University of New England, described the work performed by EdAIive as an example of how regional Australia can utilise
The NBN.
“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for regional Australia to revitalise itself, to see that ‘brain drain’ people talk about ending,” he
said.
“People won’t have to shift their businesses to Sydney anymore, they won’t have to shift for university.”
Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay described the launch as demonstrating that a company based in regional Australia can operate successfully
internationally.
Mr Windsor reaffirmed his support for the NBN.
“This is a debate where it’s very easy to get negative, but Armidale deserves to have the Minister coming back time and again to check the progress, because it’s a very positive community in terms of this
technology,” he said.

By Stephen Jeffery