School internet use at an all-time high

Issue: Volume 95, Number 9

Posted: 23 May 2016
Reference #: 1H9d27

Ninety-five per cent of New Zealand schools are now enjoying fast, uncapped internet through the Managed Network.

 

School internet use has skyrocketed since the development of the government-funded Managed Network for digital learning.

More than 765,000 students and teachers across 95 per cent of New Zealand schools now have access to fast, uncapped internet running at predictable speeds, as well as web filtering and network security services, thanks to the Managed Network provided by Crown-owned company Network for Learning. The remaining five per cent will be able to connect by the end of the year.

About 25 per cent of Managed Network web traffic is streaming video, with 554,000 minutes played in March. N4L education lead Carolyn Stuart says schools are using video in a number of ways, from showing YouTube clips to help bring learning alive, to producing and uploading their own teaching and learning content, to hosting live video chats with other classrooms across the country.

St Peter’s College, Auckland, science teacher Dr Michael Harvey says he uses video with his students to make learning more engaging and collaborative.

Michael’s class recently ‘Skyped in’ a geology expert from Christchurch to share his latest research.

He also hosts live video sessions with a class from Argentina to collaborate on a nutrition topic.

“When you can see the person on the other end, there is more of a connection than if that person shared their knowledge via an email,” says Michael.

Increasing demand for bandwidth

Schools are using more and more internet every month. In March, schools collectively accessed more than 10 billion websites, about three billion more than the previous month.

March also marked the first month where more than one petabyte of data was collectively consumed by schools, breaking previous records in February and last November when just under 800,000 terabytes were downloaded.

That’s a lot of internet.

One petabyte, or 1,000 terabytes, is the equivalent of 13.3 years of HD-TV video, with 1.5 petabytes representing the size of 40 million filing cabinets full of text. And 50 petabytes equals all the written works of mankind created since the beginning of recorded history in all languages.

Activity across the Managed Network is heavier during months without public or school holidays, with March being the first month of the school year where most students attended every weekday.

Security blocks help keep shools safe

The Managed Network also provides an important security and web filtering service, and the number of websites blocked in March numbered 629 million! During the same month, N4L blocked 88 million security threats and prevented more than 154,000 unwanted applications such as malware, spyware and adware.

Preparing for a digital future

N4L CEO John Hanna says he expects the upward trend of schools’ internet use to continue.

“Schools are using more online applications and tools for their learning and are accessing the internet from an increasing number of devices,” he says.

“We are keeping ahead of the demand curve by building new capability into the network, and ensuring every student has a seamless online experience, no matter how many devices they use to access the internet or where they go to school in New Zealand.”

A November survey among schools using the Managed Network(external link) indicates 94 per cent feel more confident implementing their digital strategy as a result of being connected, with 71 per cent having increased their use of digital technology within the first six months of connecting.

With some secondary schools managing student populations of 2,000–3,000, N4L is servicing some of the highest concentration of internet users in the country.

In March, the Managed Network was named the top ICT-enabled community initiative at the inaugural CIO 100 Awards, which honour 100 companies that demonstrate excellence and achievement in IT.

Research conducted prior to building the Managed Network suggests that its design does not exist within any other sector of New Zealand, and the implementation process may be a world first.

The rollout of the Managed Network continues to run a year ahead of schedule and within budget.

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

Posted: 11:16 PM, 23 May 2016

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