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Interactive, satellite TV meets school science

Interactive, satellite TV meets school science

School students across the country have been given the chance to prepare for their scholarship biology exam via a seminar series presented by leading New Zealand scientists and teachers through a converged satellite TV solution.

The Liggins Education Network for Science (LENS), The University of Auckland Information Technology Services division and broadcast and telecommunications company Kordia™ have worked together to produce a series of seminars designed to provide high school biology students with additional learning tools and resources to support preparation for the New Zealand scholarship examinations. Using Kordia™s content services, linking and satellite technology, the seminars were broadcast to five high school⃳ in West Auckland, Gisborne, Tauranga and Kaitaia, and via the KAREN network to schools in Wellington.

The three-seminar series featured presentations from University of Auckland scientists and leading secondary school teachers, linking current research in science to the school curriculum. LENS Director, Jacquie Bay, provided students with a mock examination question at the end of each seminar and helped students look at how to approach examination questions. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions via teleconference link, a Skype chat room or a wiki page. After the seminar, students were invited to contribute to a wiki discussion, moderated by leading secondary science teachers, relating to the seminar and the mock examination questions.

“Teachers are very aware of the difficulties that students have in answering resource-based questions linking core concepts to situations such as those seen in research. Schools struggle to find appropriate resources for secondary students that provide these links,” says Jacquie Bay. “Our model, which sees teachers and scientists ΰo-presenting to the students, supports learning. Using satellite TV technology, students can engage with scientists and join with like-minded students across the country who are interested in excelling in science.

“This broadcast was conducted both via satellite TV and the KAREN research and education network,” says Tim Chaffe of the University’s ITS. “The use of TV allows a greater coverage for schools, especially rural ones not close to broadband connectivity and those not technically able. The use of KAREN will enable higher quality, twoᾠway participation in future as network and video conferencing become ubiquitous and simpler.

Kordia is focused on bringing people and technology together as one, according to Kordia CEO, Geoff Hunt.

“This project is doing just that; delivering better technology into regional New Zealand in a way that can positively impact current educational resources.

“The regions can often play second fiddle to the metropolitan areas, but Kordia is focused on delivering ubiquitous standards of technology to all New Zealanders.

“We are working on initiatives such as the trans-Tasman submarine cable (to bring diversity and lower cost structures to the delivery of broadband in New Zealand); constantly looking at ways to level the playing field and deliver better access to technologies across New Zealand. Kordia’s work with the Liggins Institute is yet anotῨer example of this, says Hunt.

The seminar series was delivered via satellite to set top boxes in the schools taking part in the trial – Kaitaia College, Lytton High School in Gisborne, Otumoetai College in Tauranga, and Avondale College and Mount Roskill Grammar School in Auckland. Each school invited classes from other schools in the area to attend, some travelling up to two hours to take part. In addition, a live audience attended the seminars at the UniversitΌ™s Liggins Institute.

The seminar series was designed and produced by LENS, Kordia and the University’s Information Technology Services division. The broadcasts were produced by Volt TV Productions.

Topics in the series were - Feast or Famine: exploring the impact of environment on gene expression and evolution by Dr Deborah Sloboda; Biotechnology and cancer: the impact of advances in biotechnology on understanding and treatment of breast cancer by Professor Peter Lobie and Dr Jo Perry; Walking upright: the cost of human evolution by Professor Peter Gluckman.


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