Fibre opening up a world of opportunities in NZ classrooms
Our fibre broadband reaches around 1900 schools across the country. We recently spoke to a couple of education specialists about access to better broadband and what they’re doing to support new technologies in schools.
Knowing maths is a subject many struggle with, Subash Chandar K, a teacher from Ormiston Senior College in Auckland, has been creating YouTube videos that take his students through the workings behind complicated maths problems. As well as viewing his YouTube videos, Subash’s students regularly use online tools in the classroom like Sphero robots (a connected ball controlled through an app that can be programmed to roll at different speeds and directions) and a graphing app called Desmos that animates students’ graphing tasks.
Subash’s videos and classes have been such a hit with his students that he’s inspired other teachers at the school and around the country to do the same. He now has his own YouTube channel and is planning to potentially livestream Q&A sessions to help students study for exams, as well as introduce technology like drones to demonstrate 3D mapping. “I’m always thinking of ways to creatively engage students and use technology to enhance learning. Using the fibre broadband that we have available at the school makes it so much easier,” says Subash.
To help teachers and schools with using digital technologies in the classroom, the Connected Education Trust is creating kits to support the roll-out of the new Digital Technologies curriculum. The kits use equipment and resources like Edison robots, drones and virtual reality technologies and include a mix of video and pdf guides with Skype lessons available. The Trust wants to grow an online community so that people who borrow the kits can share the innovative ways they have used them in the classroom.
Phillipa Dick, from the Connected Education Trust says, “We’re passionate about supporting teachers in using digital technologies, not to keep doing what they’ve always done but to create and problem solve digitally, supporting students in creating new possibilities and innovative solutions.
“We now have better connectivity and technology is rapidly evolving but some schools are struggling to keep up. Many schools would like to introduce robotics for example, but don’t know where to start. And often it’s a big investment that they haven’t necessarily had a chance to explore. This model gives schools the chance to access a variety of equipment and new technologies and be able to use it straight away rather than waiting to fundraise for it,” says Phillipa.
To help schools make the most of their fibre connections, Chorus has teamed up with Network for Learning (N4L) on a school technology upgrade programme. Kicking off with a trial at Haeata Community Campus in Christchurch, the upgrade programme extends the school’s internet service out into the homes of students so they can access online resources at home. As part of this programme, we’re also upgrading schools connected to Chorus fibre on N4L’s network to a 1Gbps service that ensures every school has enough bandwidth to operate without constraint.
Working alongside the Ministry of Education and N4L, we’re also taking gigabit fibre beyond the school gate and into each classroom to allow far greater data capacity and speed per child. Through these upgrades, we’re aiming to make New Zealand’s schools among the most technologically-advanced in the world.