UWS launches innovative social tool Pango

The University of Western Sydney (UWS) has unveiled an ambitious project to ‘close the gap’ in tertiary education access with a social learning and gaming platform called Pango.

Pango is an aggregator of learning content, filtered to relevant information based on national high school curricula. It enables social learning with built-in social media features as well as integration with Facebook.

It also has qualified tutors helping students on the site. Pango is aimed at students in years nine and above but does cater to students as young as 12. A key feature of Pango will be a series of complex educational games called Timestorm.

The first in the series, ‘Reign of the Sun’, will be based on the national science curriculum.

UWS and digital agency New Republique spent two years developing Pango, which has been in the soft launch phase for the past month. If successful, Pango will boost students’ Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) scores which will grow the tertiary education category.

Pango is open to all Australian high school students but is specifically targeted at those in the Greater Western Sydney area. While UWS owns and operates Pango, its branding is minimal.

UWS will initially promote the platform directly with local high schools – it will present to six schools this week – before plans to market it in traditional media including out-of-home and experiential activities early next year.

Pango is funded by the federal government through education budgets dedicated for lower socioeconomic-status students. The project cost close to one million dollars.

UWS spokesperson and pro vice-chancellor Angelo Kourtis said: “UWS invests in raising university aspirations in Greater Western Sydney and we are passionate about ensuring that those who aspire to a university degree are given the opportunity.

Unfortunately, there are still a large number of students who have the aspiration but narrowly miss out on the ATAR required.

“We developed Pango to bridge this gap by engaging students early in high school and providing them with the necessary resources and support to help lift attainment levels. We are pleased that Pango is firmly aligned to our mission and will continue to position UWS as a university of opportunity and excellence.”

New Republique founder and chief executive Nima Yassini said: “Pango is a great example of how brands can hold to the ideals of helping rather than disrupting. This platform is unique because it solves a real social problem, with a unique technology solution. Pango is the perfect embodiment of New Republique’s product.

“What Facebook is to friends and what LinkedIn is to business, Pango will be to education. This project is the benchmark for us and the industry as a whole. If R/GA has Nike+, New Republique has Pango.”

Yassini said the majority of students in UWS’ Greater Western Sydney catchment area attain an average ATAR of 60 or lower.

This article first appeared in the 19 October 2012 edition of AdNews, in print and on iPad. Click here to subscribe for more news, features and opinion.

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