20 Years Innovating in Education

Meet the Further Learning Group (FLG), the mothership for the Australian Academy of Fashion Design, and a leading provider of industry recognised awards in Interior Design, Fashion Design, Garden Design, Photography, Digital Marketing and Graphic Design.  

This year FLG celebrates 20 years’ innovating in education. 

In 2004, when FLG was in its infancy, Twitter and YouTube had yet to be conceived and Facebook was the now obsolete, Facemash. Nobody had even heard of Zoom, and it would be 2010 before Facetime was born. The world had no idea of the tsunami of change that was coming its way and could not have foreseen how dependent we would become on online communications.  

At FLG, we were acutely aware of the emerging world of digital communication and spotted a lack of advancement in the education sector. The question we considered was what areas of education would suffer most from the lack of technological innovation. We concluded that creative design with its highly practical, hands-on nature risked being overlooked, and we decided to address this gap in the market. What may have seemed like an impossible task, was viewed as an opportunity.  

Our mission was to make high quality design education accessible to all. Online and globally.  

Today, online learning is a popular choice for students and educators alike, but its popularity is a relatively new phenomenon borne from pure necessity in the face of a crisis. Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns left the educational sector in a position where many institutions were forced to quickly develop distance learning options for students - often from scratch. 

Unlike the Further Learning Group. 

We have been honing and perfecting the online learning experience since 2004. Our academies pioneered this student experience and have had many years to refine and enhance purpose-built technology. Over the years, we have learned to appreciate the importance of continual adaptation and learning. Most importantly, our academies have taken the time to learn from our students and to mature with them and with their learning experiences

Our first innovation was a custom-built learning platform that offered students easy access to their courses while encouraging peer feedback and collaboration. Online learning can be a solitary experience, so it was important to add features like interactive puzzles, personalised study plans, and social activities. 

Today, this continuously evolving learning platform includes tools to help students take charge of their own learning. By harnessing the power of technology for scale, we have been able to expand exponentially. 

Student interaction is a vital element in the learning experience of all disciplines. Creative design students, in particular, need to be able to critically assess their work, to collaborate in groups and to generate networks of peers. At FLG, we design our learning systems to match these very specific needs. 

An equally vital element is assessment, which not only provides students with goals to strive for, but also provides reassurance about the quality and level of education delivered. We’re very proud of our quality assurance programme and the rigorous standards we apply to ensure quality is prioritised. 

Since the mission that unites our academies is to make high quality education accessible to all, there is a huge focus on balancing quality with affordability. While it can be challenging to maintain, it is a key objective of our sustainability strategy. With offices in Ireland, Britain, Australia, Portugal, and USA, 250 employees and thirty-two-thousand students to date; we’re proud to strike this balance every day in everything we do. 

By listening to students and continuously refining the approach based on feedback, FLG has been able to grow and evolve in line with the needs of our students and faculty. And just like our students, our academies are always learning and always looking ahead.  Over the past 20 years we have repaved the road to learning by making high quality education accessible to all – and we have no intention of stopping.

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Written by: Fiona Byrne

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