Schools’ use of managed network skyrockets

Issue: Volume 96, Number 13

Posted: 24 July 2017
Reference #: 1H9de_

New Zealand schools are embracing digital content wholeheartedly as N4L’s managed network allows schools to get as much internet as they need for learning.

Students across the country are using more internet than ever before.

This should come as little surprise, now that 98 per cent of eligible schools have unlimited access to the fast, reliable, safe internet being used by around 798,000 students and teachers across New Zealand.

Five years ago the Government formed Network for Learning (N4L) as a Crown company, charging it with building and running a managed network that allows schools to get as much internet as they need for learning. It took less than three years to connect 2,400+ schools and school satellite sites, with the initial rollout complete in December last year.

The massive amount of data that’s been consumed this year indicates schools are really embracing their connectivity.

From March to ay, schools used 47 per cent more data than they did during same period last year. In May, more than two petabytes passed through N4L’s web filtering tools, which blocked more than one billion websites and stopped more than 63 million security threats.

That’s quite a lot of internet. To put this into perspective, you’d need to record HD video for six years non-stop to create two petabytes of data.

More connected devices

N4L CEO John Hanna says the way schools are using the internet is changing: they are using more of it, connecting more devices, and using it outside traditional school hours.

“When we began building the network four years ago, there were far fewer devices in schools. Back then, it was more common for each class to share a handful of devices, and for teachers to rotate their classes through rooms set up with computers.

“Today, we see the ratio of devices to students is rising. And as the company responsible for managing digital connectivity for schools, we are looking at how we can provide further support as schools add more devices to their own wireless school networks.”

John notes there is plenty of work to do in the months ahead to ensure that every school-aged New Zealand child continues to have equitable access to internet for learning, regardless of where they live or go to school.

The company speaks with schools on a daily basis through its helpdesk and its staff are out visiting schools and participating in industry events where they meet with principals and teachers. These discussions help to inform the company’s plans for the future, while its network engineers work to build new features and technology into the managed network service to remain ahead of the demand curve and responsive to the changing needs of schools.

John says the company’s collaborative approach to doing business is fundamental to its success. N4L works alongside schools, government and key technology partners, especially Spark, to deliver its services in a way that caters to the needs of individual schools, while planning for their growing use of technology.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 6:00 am, 24 July 2017

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