‘Embedding’ industry in research: UNSW opens its labs

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Dr Dror Ben-Naim, adjunct lecturer at the School of Computer Science and Engineering

A consortium led by education technology Smart Sparrow and Arizona State University has secured funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create smart science courses for students.

Smart Sparrow is the product of more than seven years’ research at UNSW by founder Dr Dror Ben-Naim, adjunct lecturer at the School of Computer Science and Engineering. UNSW's commercialisation company NewSouth Innovations (NSi) is a founding partner and shareholder.

The Smart Science Network consortium is one of only seven successful applicants in the Foundation’s US$20 million Next Generation Courseware Challenge, which aims to revolutionise higher education for disadvantaged students.

More than 100 digital learning innovators were invited to create ambitious proposals for ‘next generation’ courseware. 

The consortium including Smart Sparrow will develop two “smart courses” that teach basic science concepts with the aid of “games-like interactive, adaptive simulations.”

“This is an extraordinary endorsement for an Australian invention — particularly given the tough international competition in the global education technology sector,” Dr Ben-Naim said. 

The full Smart Science Network consortium consists of Smart Sparrow, Arizona State University, the University of Texas at Arlington, Achieving the Dream and e*mersion. 

Earlier this year, Smart Sparrow raised $10 million from investors to fund its international expansion. 

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