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Online community for teachers and students


Online community for teachers and students

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today launched a project at Christchurch's Riccarton High School that aims to develop a collaborative online community to assist students, especially those who can't physically attend school, and for teachers to share resources and information.

“We anticipate this project will assist students who are unable to attend normal classes, such as those who may be in hospital or out of the country," Trevor Mallard said.

"Also, overseas parents who have children in New Zealand schools will be able to access their course work and monitor their progress, which may be helpful in guiding their children’s education.”

The project is one of several Digital Opportunities projects, which are joint initiatives between government, schools and businesses. The government is investing in the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to support specific student learning needs and lift education standards.

“Project Mindspring is a joint venture between the Ministry of Education, Unisys, Microsoft, and the New Zealand Online Learning Community Trust. It follows on from a trial in 2003 undertaken at Riccarton High School, and will involve over 25 primary and secondary schools from Northland to Otago,” Trevor Mallard said.

Project Mindspring will provide professional training and support for teachers, and opportunities to develop quality-assured resource materials to share and use.

The online community will also enable students to access learning materials and assignments, as well as complete course work on an anytime-anywhere basis.

Project Mindspring is being coordinated by the New Zealand Online Learning Community Trust and will be facilitated in 2005 by Graham Warburton from Riccarton High School.

More information on Mindspring can be found on the Digital Opportunities projects website www.digiops.org.nz.

A list of other ICT initiatives is attached.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Schools

In 2004/05 the Government will spend about $57 million on ICT initiatives in schools.

Over and above this, $48 million has been allocated to project PROBE, through which high-speed internet access for all schools and their communities in regional New Zealand will be rolled out by mid-2005.

Approximately $10 million is also each year provided on a per student basis for ICT support through the school operations grant.

Principals and teachers of Year 4 to 13 students can access laptops, with the government reimbursing up to two thirds of the cost. More than $14 million will be spent on the scheme in 2004/05. Since 2002 $26 million has been spent on the scheme, 23,000 laptops have been distributed to teachers, and 2670 laptops have gone to principals.

More than $27 million is being spent over the next three years to ensure that all state schools have free access to Microsoft, Apple and anti-virus software licences.

A free video conferencing bridge service for mainly rural schools, costing $2.7 million over four years.

The government spends more than $500,000 on internet safety in schools. The Internet Safety Group (ISG) provides all schools with guidelines, training and resources plus the website www.netsafe.org.nz. In 2004/05, $200,000 has been provided to the ISG in addition to the current appropriation. This is to enable the ISG to increase its publicity and communication activities, its direct work with schools and fund further research on barriers to implementation of cybersafety. There are 83 clusters of schools working together to share best practice through the ICT Professional Development Cluster programme. This programme is the main method of providing long-term professional development in ICT to teachers. It serves to promote and promulgate effective practice for the use of ICTs in schools to improve students’ learning outcomes. Over 40 per cent of NZ schools have been or are involved in the initiative, which receives approximately $11 million per year. Other professional development initiatives include the principals' website, Leadspace, and their online network, PEN.

E-learning fellowships have been awarded to 10 teachers in 2004 to investigate and develop the use of ICT to support learning. Another 10 fellowships have been awarded for the 2005 year.

The Schools Network Upgrade Project seeks to support schools develop a robust computer network infrastructure in order for them to take advantage of digital teaching resources and various Ministry initiatives. Prior to June 2004 standards had not been in place for computer networks in schools and, as a result, there is a wide variation in network quality and performance. This project is providing important data on the quality of schools networks and has established minimum standards

The Le@rning Federation is a collaborative programme with Australia to develop a continuing supply of high quality digital educational resources. An increasing number of digital learning objects will be made available to schools during 2005.

Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) (www.tki.org.nz) provides curriculum resources, information and services to support teachers and schools. The use of TKI continues to grow and is consistently one of the top educational reference sites in New Zealand.

There are currently two Digital Opportunities projects where business and the government sponsor schools' innovative ICT projects. Ten new Digital Opportunities projects for 2005-07 have been selected and will commence next year.

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