School of the Air, Alice Springs

The Alice Springs School of the Air provides an educational service for about 120 children living on properties or settlements covering over 1 million square kilometers of Central Australia. Students link up via satellite on school days with their teacher and with each other. At the Centre visitors discover firsthand the unique teaching methods used by the school from its founding through to the present day.

Location: 80 Head Street, Alice Springs. Ph (08) 8951 6834. Entry fees apply.

The first School of the Air lessons were officially broadcast from the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Alice springs on 8 June 1951. The service celebrated its 60th anniversary on 9 May 2011, ahead of the actual anniversary on 8 June. Each state of Australia that utilises this means of education has well documented reviews and overviews of the service.

There are school of the air programmes in all states except Tasmania.School classes were conducted via shortwave radio from 1951 until 2003, after which most schools switched to wireless internet technologies to deliver lessons that include live one-way video feeds and clear two-way audio.

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Each student has direct contact with a teacher in a major inland town such as Alice Springs. Each student typically spends one hour per day receiving group or individual lessons from the teacher, and the rest of the day working through the assigned materials with a parent, older sibling or a hired home-stay tutor.Traditionally, the students received their course materials and returned their written work and projects to their hub centre using either the Royal Flying Doctor Service or post office services. However the extension of Internet services into the outback now enables more rapid review of each child's homework.

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