I was extremely fortunate to live in Australia from 1991-1998 (I’m now an official Aussie, as well as a Yank, as they call folks from the US). I came as a freshly minted post-doc, full of myself as a learning technology expert and knowing little more about Oz than that it had good surf (one of the attractions).
What I learned was that for a nation of such a small population, they were world-class not only in sports but in many technical areas, medicine and solar cells to name a couple, and distance learning, including technology-mediated distance learning.
It’s not really surprising, considering the vast distances of sparse population outside the city (just look at the School of the Air), but as a consequence necessity mothered many inventions beyond radio: they were early into the communication potential of audiographics, and early adopters of games for learning (e.g. Investigating Lake Iluka), the internet and mobile phones.
They’re a welcoming lot, and I was fortunate enough to spend time with many great minds including Shirley Alexander, Sandra Wills, and Ron Oliver. Along the way I learned much of great value.
I’m going back from the 13th to the 25th of February, and while it’s mostly a family vacation, I’ve already arranged a 3 hour workshop (on the 21st) at the University of Wollongong on learning game design (based upon the book). I’ll also be talking (on the 16th) at the University of Sydney’s CoCo Lab (Computing and Cognition) on new models for learning and technology.
I’d certainly welcome the opportunity to talk to others; feel free to give me a shout!