School network upgrade project comes to an end

Issue: Volume 95, Number 2

Posted: 9 February 2016
Reference #: 1H9cym

Within the next few months, all New Zealand state and state-integrated schools will have the ability to access high-quality, high-speed internet.

Churton School connects to the big wide world

Students from Whanganui’s Churton School are regularly sharing their latest creative writing efforts with young people throughout the world.

The 100 Word Challenge tasks school students with putting together pieces of writing, no longer than 100 words, on a particular topic.

Once they post their pieces to a class blog they link them to the 100 Word Challenge blog and everybody can then comment and discuss each other’s work.

Churton School’s ICT lead teacher, Carla Carter, says this is just one of the great resources the school has access to after the school ICT network was upgraded under the School Network Upgrade Project (SNUP).

Located near the banks of the Whanganui River, Churton School has a number of iPads and Chromebooks for students to use. The school had some of these before the network upgrade but now they are able to be used to their full potential.

With ultrafast broadband, supplied through Network for Learning (N4L), teachers at Churton School have started using technology in the classroom on a daily basis.

Carla says in her class she uses Google Classroom and Google Drive. These programmes allow her to do everything from taking the roll and sharing files, to accepting assignments and answering students’ questions online anytime.

With a class of 30 students, using technology has helped Carla keep track of their progress and easily share feedback on work.

The Maths Buddy and Mathletics websites are also regularly used at the school.

“We have tried really hard to make the technology an integrated part of what we do and haven’t made it seem like anything special,” she says. “Our philosophy is to make these things normal tools for learning."

“The children love the freedom of it all. They like the idea that they’re part of a wider world outside the classroom.”

Collingwood Area School – on the digital superhighway

While Collingwood is geographically isolated, there’s nothing ‘off the beaten track’ about its technology.

The school, the most northwestern in the South Island, is near Farewell Spit and is a two-hour trek by road over the tortuous (if scenic) Takaka Hill from Nelson.

The school was an early adopter of broadband and digital technology, and now the Government’s ultrafast broadband project means Collingwood can enjoy the benefits of the digital superhighway.

This will also soon include the township’s 230 residents, who will share the school’s new lightening speeds via the Digital Hub’s wi-fi set up.

Collingwood Area School was one of the first schools to be a part of the School Network Upgrade Project (SNUP), which upgrades a school’s ICT infrastructure and enables the benefits of ultrafast broadband to be experienced throughout the school.

Principal Janelle McKenzie says with these upgrades to the school’s technology, broadband speeds throughout the classrooms have gone from 1-2MB a second to 30MB-plus. That means instead of at times waiting 5–10 minutes to connect to the Nelson-based student management system, the response is now instant.

But the biggest change is being able to operate almost entirely ‘in the cloud’. The school is moving to the Microsoft 365 online system that will replace the current server (near the end of its life) and host its intranet.

As the school’s 130 students, who come from around the district, are familiar with using Google Docs, Janelle says the transformation to a new set-up should be plain sailing.

The technology and communications provided through the broadband enhancements mean even though the students are a long way from big city schools, their educational choices are not restricted.

Using technology is integral to the school’s daily life – from video conferencing calculus lessons, to West Coast students taking art history through WestNet, a Top of the South and West Coast e-learning community, or accessing human biology courses from Southland Institute of Technology for two students keen to pursue careers as potential personal trainers.
For teachers, long hours of travel can inhibit professional development, so being able to Skype other Top of the South area schools (covering Rai Valley to Westland) means they can share their experiences without getting in a car for long, time-wasting journeys.

Deputy principal Alison Menary says faster broadband made it easier to introduce new technology devices (including pupil-owned laptops and tablets, and Chromebooks) for everyday use to everyone.

It will also help in the school’s move to collaborative teaching using flexible spaces as they upgrade some buildings in the school.

School Network Upgrade Project comes to an end

Within the next few months, all New Zealand state and state-integrated schools will have the ability to access high-quality, high-speed internet.

With the final few schools set to have their information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure upgraded, the School Network Upgrade Project (SNUP) is coming to an end.
The 11-year project has seen 2,431 New Zealand schools given the infrastructure to access fast and reliable internet.

From city centres to rural towns throughout the country, schools are harnessing the power of 21st century technology to improve learning.

What is the School Network Upgrade Project (SNUP)?

SNUP provides state and state-integrated schools with the internal ICT infrastructure they need to connect to high-quality, high-speed internet, such as cabling, switches, and wireless, which has been available to schools as a part of SNUP since June 2013.

What is the Wireless School Network Upgrade Project (WSNUP)?

Schools that were completed under SNUP prior to 2010 have been invited on to the Wireless School Network Upgrade Project (WSNUP). This focuses solely on upgrading switches and installing wireless to 436 schools that were not provided with wireless the first time around.

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

Posted: 7:46 PM, 9 February 2016

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