Finalists compete to be crowned education CIO of the year

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Finalists compete to be crowned education CIO of the year

Battle heats up in an inspiring category.

A diverse field of entrants will battle it out to be crowned Education CIO of the Year in the 2016 Benchmark Awards.

From the data-heavy complexity of genomics to digital literacy in a world with no internet, this year's field proves that outcomes rather than technology for technology's sake is the mantra at the heart of the awards.

In the end, all three projects are about removing barriers to learning.

Please join us in congratulating:


Professor David Abramson - University of Queensland

          Genomics Virtual Laboratory         

The study of genomics is a life-saving but resource-intensive enterprise that requires bucketloads of computing resources to process and visualise complex sequences of data.

Abramson and his team are working to make the process of spinning up compute clusters as easy as possible for researchers, by designing a tailor-made, pre-packaged cluster that can be picked up for free by Australian scientists.

The solution, powered by either the NeCTAR research cloud or AWS public cloud, comes pre-populated with specific bioinformatics tools and visualisation products common to the majority of genomics researchers.

It allows scientists to spend less of their time and money piecing together complex software and hardware to facilitate their research and more time on making potentially groundbreaking discoveries.

Professor Ken Udas - University of Southern Queensland

Making the Connection program

The University of Southern Queensland’s entry stands out for both its technological simplicity and its complex social ambition.

Under the leadership of Udas, the USQ has taken its tailor-made technology program into eight Australian jails to ensure prisoners don't get left behind in the digital age, despite being largely barred from internet access.

Udas has created a version of the USQ learning management system modified with special features to work in an offline environment. The program is now looking to supply notebook computers to prisoners so they can take the learning materials back to their cell.

The team has yet to fully measure the impact of the program but is buoyed by studies showing participation in higher education can reduce rates of recidivism by up to 40 percent, and is aiming for a national rollout.

Trevor McDougall - Open Colleges

OpenSpace 2.0

As an online education provider, Open Colleges’ learning platform is its bread and butter.

This means updating its underlying technology was a make or break opportunity for the business.

Open Colleges spun up a minimum viable product leveraging the flexibility of the AWS public cloud and crowdsourced testing technologies.

The responsive, HTML5 design can be accessed from any device and fortnightly releases are set to keep the new platform up to speed with an increasingly demanding consumer base.

Since OpenSpace 2.0 went live, Open Colleges says it has seen positive social sentiment nearly double, and the length of time students spend engaging with content multiply several times over. The organisation is also realising big efficiency gains from the switch away from printed material.

Voting will now commence for members of the iTnews LinkedIn CIO Group. If you're a CIO but not a member, head on over and request to join today.

Winners will be announced at the 8th CIO Strategy Summit on February 17 at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne.

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