Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

UniQuest has licensed a quick and accurate online English language test developed at The University of Queensland (UQ) to International Education Services (IES) to develop LanguageMAP as a mobile device app.

LanguageMAP (LMAP), a quick and accurate online English language test developed at The University of Queensland (UQ) will soon be available as a mobile device app, following a licensing agreement between UQ’s main research commercialisation company, UniQuest, and leading international student recruitment organisation International Education Services (IES).

Dr Michael Harrington from UQ’s School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies and colleagues from the Faculty of Arts developed LMAP as an accessible and cost-effective web-based test that allows international education and employment agents to assess a client’s English proficiency via the internet, producing reliable results in as little as 15 minutes.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said the licence deal was the first of its kind for UQ’s Faculty of Arts.

“This is an important step forward for LanguageMAP, Dr Harrington’s ongoing research, the profile of UQ and the Faculty of Arts, and for IES,” Mr Henderson said.

“Royalties based on sales by IES and a stronger market profile are expected to generate further funds and data to develop the core product, while enabling the intellectual property to be taken into new markets via new technologies.

“This development also has the potential to position LanguageMAP as a new player in the $82.6 billion global language industry, of which digital English language learning products are expected to earn over $2.5 billion within the next four years.

“And importantly, the global reach of this UQ research-based technology could be extended to thousands of schools in over 100 countries where English is taught as the first foreign language,” Mr Henderson said.

LanguageMAP research has shown that English language testing is more successful when assessment is based on knowledge of English, as well as a demonstrated ability to use the language in real time. Three tightly controlled and successful research trials, involving more than 1200 English learners and native English-speakers, demonstrated the program to be a cost-effective screening tool for quickly and accurately assessing English skills.

IES Managing Director, Chris Evason, said the LanguageMAP licence was a strategic business initiative that aligned with the IES’s R&D and marketing objectives to provide world class educational tools.

“Consumer demand for digital language learning products is growing, and LanguageMAP is one of the best new professional tools now available,” Mr Evason said.

“Globally, in both the developed world and many developing countries, mobile technology is becoming a catalyst for governments to provide the means to develop English proficiently, overcoming the obstacles which held back similar reforms in the past, such as a shortage of teachers and the ‘tyranny of distance’.

“This new stage of our involvement with LanguageMAP will support IES’s foray into the app market and the ‘gamification’ of learning. We are particularly excited about the ability for LMAP to support an educational game experience, engaging the learner as a recreational game might, but also supporting the accurate assessment of English Language proficiency.”

IES will fund the technical development of the new LanguageMAP app. While further details of the licensing agreement and the proposed features of the new product remain confidential, Mr Evason said the app will not simply be a mobile version of the existing program, but rather “a lot more interactive and a lot more fun,” he said.

About LanguageMAP

LanguageMAP is a web-based multimedia system for assessing English proficiency, originating from the School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies within The University of Queensland’s Faculty of Arts. The technology was invented by key linguistics researchers Dr Michael Harrington, Dr John Ingram and Mr Michael Proctor. Technical development has been undertaken by Mr Vikram Goyal. Current clients have used the program for quick assessment of English skills prior to and at the completion of language teaching programs, as an assessment tool for overall English competency. The product is under active development and is available for commercial applications and collaborative opportunities.

About International Education Services: www.foundationyear.com

International Education Services Ltd (IES) is a Brisbane-based, not-for-profit organisation that provides educational products and services specifically for the international education sector. IES commenced in 1997 with the principal function to manage and operate the University of Queensland Foundation Year (UQFY). UQFY has become one of the most respected foundation programs in Australia and currently enrols more than 500 international students annually, of which more than 80% will continue on to study undergraduate programs at UQ. More than 4,000 undergraduate students have entered UQ through UQFY since the program commenced. IES also collaborates with the Australian Federal Government and others in offering training to student recruitment agencies and other stakeholders in the international education industry through its Professional International Education Resources (PIER) brand. PIER has introduced the first accredited courses for professionals working in international education, delivered on-line at www.pieronline.org. PIER also delivers the Education Agent Training Course (EATC) in association with Australian Education International (AEI) and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). CRICOS Code: 01697J.

About UniQuest Pty Limited

Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1500+ patents it has created over 70 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than A$450 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at A$3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland including the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. A recent addition to the company is the Queensland Government-supported ilab technology business incubator and accelerator. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year. UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 60+ countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.

Image Caption: Dr Michael Harrington (front) and Chris Evason collaborate on the LanguagMAP development