EDTECH

Alibaba Cloud partnership to ensure students abroad stay connected

SOURCE: Bay Ismoyo/AFP
Students based abroad who are affected by travel-restrictions will have to rely on online education providers.


By U2B Staff 

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Australian-based higher education software as a service (SaaS) company OpenLearning Limited has partnered with Alibaba Cloud, the data intelligence backbone of the Alibaba Group, to cater to international students in mainland China. 

This partnership marks OpenLearning as the first online learning platform to partner with Alibaba Cloud in Australia for DNS Acceleration. The partnership will ensure students based in mainland China will still be able to access online courses in a compliant manner. 

This will open up more opportunities for both parties in penetrating the global market for education providers.

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OpenLearning implemented Alibaba’s DNS Acceleration service within one week with zero downtime to existing users. This alleviates the problem most students had with a substantially slower connection in mainland China. Alibaba’s service speeds up access to OpenLearning via a direct fibre cable connection that serves across specific regions within Asia. 

Due to recent travel restrictions imposed across the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, education providers are left to deal with continuing the delivery of lessons and course materials to international students who are unable to return from their home countries. 

In fact, these restrictions have prevented a significant number of students from entering Australia before the start of the 2020 academic term. To mitigate this, Australian universities increased the use of online delivery using OpenLearning as a platform to design and deliver online courses. 

This has, in turn, attracted interest from universities across the globe who are seeking viable options. In particular, universities are looking to use learning platforms accessible from within mainland China, which is the largest source country for international students globally however it is not necessary that they may have adequate access to the online platform. 

Alibaba Cloud
Alibaba Cloud will provide connectivity and access to the OpenLearning platform. Source: Greg Baker/AFP.

Besides accessibility, the higher education sector is also facing huge losses in revenue amidst the global pandemic. For instance, a New South Wales-based university mentioned that it is facing a shortfall of more than AU$200 million due to COVID-19. 

To offset this loss of revenue, education providers are now turning to provide micro-credential degrees, which can be used to deliver specific specialised segments of degree programmes to students located anywhere in the world. This works two-fold as universities can generate new revenue from working adults who wish to upgrade their skills as well as provide large-scale student support to off-campus students. 

Education providers can benefit greatly from OpenLearning’s services as it provides ideal solutions to support institutions as they transition to online learning to deliver both accredited and non-accredited courses in Australia, China and beyond. 

While this partnership with Alibaba Cloud increases the speed of access for students in mainland China, OpenLearning will continue to be hosted on Microsoft Azure’s cloud in Australia. 

“We are proud to be working with OpenLearning, an innovative company that is changing how people learn globally. Our cloud solution ensures high-speed access to all of OpenLearning’s online courses in mainland China and will help learners to advance their studies during these challenging times. We look forward to continuing our support of OpenLearning through this partnership,” said Alibaba Cloud Australia and New Zealand General Manager Raymond Ma. 

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“We are very pleased to partner with Alibaba Cloud to greatly improve the performance of OpenLearning in mainland China – benefiting all our clients and providing us with a strong competitive advantage,” added OpenLearning Group CEO and Managing Director Adam Brimo. 

“Based on the current data, universities worldwide will suffer a multi-billion-dollar combined revenue loss due to COVID-19 from the decline in international student enrolments and campus closures. This is a very challenging time for the sector, students and society – our hearts go out to all those impacted.”

“We believe that OpenLearning is well-positioned to support higher education providers by providing a platform to design and deliver high-quality courses to students worldwide – protecting their core business and enabling them to generate new revenue through short courses and micro-credentials,” he said.