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Otago students win out of videoconferencing

26 February 2004 Media Statement

Otago students win out of videoconferencing

OtagoNet, a cluster of nine rural Otago schools, is to receive $330,000 over three years to enhance students' education through video conferencing, Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

"This government believes in access and quality for everyone in education. Video conferencing links like this ensure rural students can tap into the same educational opportunities as students from urban areas," Trevor Mallard said.

"This funding from the Collaborative Innovations Fund is great news for Otago students. OtagoNet, like similar clusters around the country, enables students in rural areas to be taught previously unobtainable courses. The video conferencing also enables teachers from schools throughout Otago to get together for professional development.

Trevor Mallard made the announcement from Wellington during a visit to an OtagoNet history class via the video conferencing link. He joined a Level 2 NCEA history lesson video conferenced between three of the OtagoNet schools: Maniototo Area School, Mt Aspiring College and East Otago High School.

There are currently about 65 students benefiting from classes managed through OtagoNet.

The Collaborative Innovations Fund provides an annual sum of $1 million to support consortiums of schools or early childhood education services which want to develop new styles of teaching and learning that improve student achievement.

"For too long schools and early childhood services have tried to go it alone rather than form alliances with others. It's excellent to see these schools and their professionals providing new opportunities for their students by working more closely with one another," Trevor Mallard said.

"The support of the Collaborative Innovations Fund for projects like this, and ongoing initiatives like the government's rollout of high speed internet access to the regions through Project Probe are helping break down traditional learning barriers."

The schools involved in OtagoNet are: East Otago High School, Dunstan High School, Cromwell College, the Catlins Area School, Mount Aspiring College, Roxburgh Area School, Maniototo Area School, Lawrence Area School and Waitaki Valley School.

Background information

OtagoNet cluster classes for 2004:
- Throughout the OtagoNet cluster are 15 classes, predominantly Year 11-13, offered by teachers from the 9 schools within the cluster. About 65 students are involved.
- Physical education, agriculture, hospitality, history, maths with calculus, maths with statistics, physics, electronics, computing, graphics.
- The Correspondence School supports the OtagoNet cluster by supporting classes in areas of humanities, languages, and commerce.
- OtagoNet also uses the video conferencing equipment for a range of communication between the schools including professional development and moderation of NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement).

National Video Conference Network:
- Over 14 clusters from OtagoNet to FarNet (Northland), including KAWM (Kaupapa Ara Whakawhiti Matauranga), CoroNet (Coromandel), TaraNet (Taranaki), CentreNet (South of Hamilton), and the Volcanics (Taupo).
- There is an expectation of upward of 70 classes per week across all curricular areas and across the clusters for 2004.
- The video conferencing network also uses the equipment for a range of communication between the schools including professional development, collegial discussion / collaboration, assessment and peer support for students and staff.

The Otago schools are to benefit from a new video conferencing bridge service, announced in January. The service will be available to 72 schools throughout New Zealand for the start of the 2004 school year with a further 17 schools linking in later in the year.

The video conferencing service will be available free of charge, and replaces the user pays service which currently costs schools an average $50 per 50 minutes of link-up, plus $150 month for support.


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