A game changer for Haeata

Issue: Volume 97, Number 1

Posted: 29 January 2018
Reference #: 1H9hEG

Students at Haeata Community Campus are set to benefit from an initiative that will enable them to access their school’s internet at home.

More than 2,400 schools and 811,000 students and teachers are accessing safe and uncapped internet through the Managed Network. Network for Learning (N4L), the Crown company that oversees the network, continues to come up with innovative ways to connect every learner in the country to the Managed Network.

One of these innovations will be trialled at Haeata Community Campus in Wainoni, Christchurch. The programme is N4L’s response to lots of feedback that they’ve received.

The trial will look at expanding access to the Managed Network with the aim of enabling students to use at home the same fast, safe and uncapped internet they use at school.

“We know there’s a significant proportion of families [in our community] that don’t have internet access,” says principal of Haeata Andy Kai Fong. “So we had a conversation with N4L to look at a technical solution.”

Chorus is N4L’s technology partner for this project. Over the past weeks, teams from Chorus were installing and testing the technology prior to the start of the trial early this year. Following consultation with Andy, who’s been in touch with students and their families about this project, the trial area will begin with two streets before gradually expanding. Students will log in to the Managed Network from their home using their school-owned device.

Supporting learning outside of school

“For us, if you look at how learning happens these days, many use the internet to access information. A significant proportion of our families, for many reasons, are unable to afford an internet connection, and that means learning for their kids cannot happen outside of their school day. Students need that access to the internet, in the same way as most of the rest of the population do,” says Andy.

“The other thing we know is that a whole lot of learning happens outside of school, and even outside of the homework space, where kids are able to explore, watch and see, and expand their minds and views. So in that sense, from a learning perspective, this programme is amazing. We think it’s a game changer for us.”

Andy says one of the effects of limited internet access outside of school is that the engagement that teachers have worked hard on in class is unnecessarily limited and some kids are unable to do other things that they’re passionate about.

“If you take our learning design at the moment, what we’re trying to do is engage kids with particular interests that they have. I know that we have kids who do have internet access at home who carry on the learning and investigation of those projects, not in a homework sense, but because they’re interested. I’ve got a boy here who’s working on setting up a radio station and he’s emailing us to simply say, ‘I’m looking into the costings for the radio station, I know that it’s not homework but I really enjoy it’. That kind of engagement is really important, and we want to provide access to that engagement at our learners’ fingertips.”

Equity is crucial

N4L CEO Greg Woolley says that while access to digital resources is crucial to the future of learners, equity of access is just as important.

“The increasing use of devices and home internet access is widening the digital divide, where some students have access to the tools and connectivity for learning out of school hours while others do not.

“Since announcing the Haeata trial, other communities have approached N4L to see how they might work with us to replicate the model. We are working alongside the Ministry of Education to understand how we can use the learnings from the Haeata trial to address issues around equity of access nationally.

“We are working closely with many organisations in the Haeata community to deliver student wireless internet access to homes so we can ensure that students and teachers who use N4L’s Managed Network can learn and teach in a way that meets their needs today and in the years ahead”.

Visit www.n4l.co.nz(external link) for more information. 

N4L Managed Network: Helping schools stay safe online

Over two million gigabytes of data pass through the Managed Network’s web filtering services every month students are in school. Last year it blocked more than 8.4 billion inappropriate sites and prevented more than 600 million potential threats from reaching devices on the network such as viruses, adware and spyware.

In addition to providing firewall and web filtering services, N4L also provides support through its helpdesk and new online community called ‘Support Hub,’ where schools can get help setting up these services to meet their needs. Along with its partners including Netsafe and the Connected Learning Advisory (CLA), N4L also works with schools to increase awareness about digital safety and positive digital citizenship practices.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:00 am, 29 January 2018

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