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Innovation In Education Gathers Awards

29 June 2002

Two Auckland entrants have scooped top awards in the educational sections of the fifth annual Computerworld Excellence Awards, announced in Auckland last night (Friday June 28)

MacLeans College and Bubble Dome won the Excellence in the Use of IT in Education (in primary and secondary schools, and in tertiary, community and commercial categories respectively).

The primary and secondary schools category attracted a large number of entries, but judges said MacLeans College was impressive because of their use of Web-based learning materials to accommodate different learning styles in the science classroom.

"We were convinced from conversations with students that these resources and self-assessment tools were used extensively by students at school and at home computers. Students can pick up at home where they left off at school without the pressure of trying to complete tasks within a 60-minute period and limited numbers of shared computers in a classroom," said the judges.

MacLeans College's use of ICT promotes independent learning skills and frees the classroom teacher from the traditional role of 'sage on stage', making it possible for gifted students to be extended beyond the confines of the curriculum and examinations and makes possible one-on-one tutoring with students who need extra help.

MacLeans College has been monitoring student outcomes since 1998 and was able to demonstrate how their students have benefited from this approach and how students enjoy this approach to teaching and learning. All this is achieved within the limitations of a State-funded school by using freely available software and online resources. The science faculty makes all these resources public by putting them up on the Web without password protection.

Bubble Dome provides children with a new form of interactive entertainment and education online that teaches them how to think in new ways, provoking extraordinary ideas. The path to success for internet start-up BubbleDome meant evolving from a pure education website into an e-commerce operation.

Launched nearly two years ago, Auckland-based Bubble Dome was a fantasy problem-solving story site aimed at seven to 12-year-olds that was to be supported by advertising.

But to increase revenue, BubbleDome is launching online sales, such as books and CDs based on its online content, and next year will relaunch its website with subscription-based education services. The website, which will feature sound and 3D images, will cater to foreign-language users and will be capable of handling 500,000 global users a month.

The collaborative Digital Opportunities Initiative took out the Most Significant Contribution to IT award, for its series of IT projects aimed at lifting IT literacy in schools and communities. Judges said the project, launched at the start of 2001, can already claim to have had a positive impact on about 15,000 students and more than 1000 teachers.

Judges said its effects are being felt from one end of the country to the other and the willingness to adopt a collaborative approach signaled New Zealand's best chance of successfully competing on the international ICT stage.

The awards honour the achievers behind some of New Zealand's most innovative IT projects, from government through to education, B2B and B2C and customer service, with other winners including siliconBLUE, the TAB, the Retirement Commission, Auckland Regional Council, DB Breweries and Centreport.

Computerworld Excellence Awards project manager Anne Simpson says for the first time in five years the awards have attracted more big companies than small, with many previous finalists coming back for another attempt at taking out a category win, such as Bubble Dome, a finalist last year.

"The Awards are growing in prestige every year and it's important to recognise and reward successful projects and top performers amongst New Zealand's IT professionals," says Ms Simpson.

IDG Communications, publisher of Computerworld, initiated the awards five years ago to recognise excellence in the IT sector. With strong sponsorship support from the IT vendor community, the awards have doubled in size since they began in 1998, with the 2002 Computerworld Excellence Awards attracting a new record number of entries, with more than 140 organisations and companies competing.

A complete list of winners, and contacts, is attached below.

-ends-


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