Inclusive Sport Academy – A New Era for Online Learning in Australia

by Mar 16, 2022News, Not-For-Profit

As consumers we live in a world where everything we know we want is the touch of a button away. And everything we don’t know we want has already been picked up by a fancy algorithm and is just waiting to hit our profile, screen or email inbox at exactly the right time. 

The onset of subscription services and personalised content has changed the way we consume, and Special Olympics Australia have taken inspiration from this trend in their newly launched learning portal – Inclusive Sport Academy

Special Olympics coach giving encouragement to a young participant

Looking Back 

The Inclusive Sport Academy takes the learnings and content from Special Olympics Australia’s first online learning portal – SOA Learn – and, through a simple audience pairing exercise provides tailored content specific to that audience. But before we explain how this innovation came to life, it’s worth looking back on how the Inclusive Sport Academy was born. 

Back in late 2017 Special Olympics Australia embarked on an ambitious plan to be the central point of learning for sport when it came to athletes with intellectual disabilities and autism. As subject matter experts in their field, this ambitious strategy was backed with the knowledge that Special Olympics Australia could establish efficiencies for National, State and Local Sporting Organisations whilst arming coaches and volunteers with world class, immersive learning content designed to have an impact on the participant. 

Starting with one course, Improving Sport for People with an Intellectual Disability, the success and reach of this initial learning program (now with over 1500 completions) drove the development of more courses and learning opportunities into the future. 

One Word – Content 

SOA Learn grew to accommodate for almost 6000 learners and housed courses, coaching resources and webinars in one user friendly portal. The ambitious dream of being the central point of learning for sport when it came to participants with intellectual disabilities and autism was being realised. 

Playbk Co-founder, Damian Hecker has worked side by side the team at Special Olympics Australia since the inception of SOA Learn and has seen the strategy unfold in front of him.

“We have always been focused on developing engaging, world class content for the Special Olympics Australia audience. The team at Special Olympics Australia have been relentless in their development of programs and resources to assist their stakeholders and ultimately enable a safe, fun and purposeful participation environment for their athletes. This has been their secret – a treasure trove of useful content that can be accessed easily, driven by their mission of being a leader for the sports sector globally.” 

Damian Hecker, Co-founder at Playbk Sports

As resources and users grew it was evident that a new era of online learning was about to unfold for Special Olympics Australia. As Roy Scheider put it in Jaws ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat.’ 

Building a Bigger Boat 

The planning for the Inclusive Sport Academy technology ecosystem started well over 18 months ago. As the content library built and the various stakeholders and audiences accessing SOA Learn grew, it was clear that a rethink was required in order to best service the learning community. 

“We encourage all of our clients to consider their audiences as a fundamental element of their strategy and planning. Over time, Special Olympics Australia grew a diverse audience which included Volunteers (at Special Olympics Clubs), Coaches and Administrators, Teachers and Early Learning Educators, Special Olympics Athletes and the Wider Community (allied health, parents, corporate partners etc.). Now each of these audiences can access tailored content direct from a purpose built homepage, which will continue to build over time.” Hecker said. 

By June, the Inclusive Sport Academy will be home to 12 courses with upwards of 40 hours of online learning available, as well as hundreds of resources to help deliver fun and inclusive sporting experiences for participants with intellectual disabilities and autism. Not only will this ‘bigger boat’ enhance the skill set of learners, but it will also save teachers, coaches and volunteers countless hours with world class, bespoke resources a simple click away. 

Turning the Boat into an Ark 

This ‘bigger boat’ that Special Olympics Australia has built is actually a sophisticated technology ecosystem that has used the best technology design thinking principles and coupled this with world class learning content and program design. The result is a contemporary user experience that also builds the blueprint for the next five years of content development and progressing Special Olympics Australia towards its goal of 10,000 learners. 

The opportunities to build even more innovative functions and learning opportunities into the ecosystem are endless and with the introduction of the Inclusive Sport Academy, Special Olympics Australia have again positioned themselves as global leaders in education and sports technology. 

To register for free on Inclusive Sport Academy head to  

About Playbk Sports

The best way for sport to commercialise online learning.

Playbk Sports makes delivering online learning simple and effective with dynamic technology, immersive custom and white-label courses, and – of course – Unrivalled Fan Engagement.

Playbk works with your team by harnessing your logo, players, coaches and administrators and uses the power of those ‘brands’ to create learning opportunities that clubs can commercialise.

As SportsTech trailblazers, Playbk fuses online learning and fan engagement – at scale.

Playbk’s full-stack digital approach provides strategy, portal design and development, marketing and technology solutions that seamlessly work within and uplift existing business functions.  

Playbk continues to focus on innovative solutions for organisations across elite sport, education and not-for-profits to connect with fans in authentic and meaningful ways.  

At Playbk, we create experiences that people remember


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