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$211 million opens up digital world for schools

Hon Hekia Parata

Minister of Education

Hon Nikki Kaye

Associate Minister of Education

2 August 2013       Media Statement       

$211 million opens up digital world for schools

Education Minister Hekia Parata and Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today confirmed that the Crown-owned company, Network for Learning (N4L), has signed a contract with Telecom to provide a managed network for all New Zealand schools.

“The Government is committed to raising achievement for all children and providing modern learning environments is critical to that,’’ Ms Parata says.

“Today we are announcing that we are investing $211 million in a managed network for New Zealand schools. This is a funded internet service that provides quality, fast connections and uncapped data to enhance learning.

“The first schools will be connected to N4L’s managed network by the end of this year. More than 700 schools will be connected by the end of 2014 and all schools will be invited to connect by 2016,’’ Ms Parata says.

Ms Kaye says the Network for Learning will include a portal (an online environment where students and teachers connect to each other and share information) which will provide schools with better access to more quality learning resources.

“The portal will be available for all schools in early 2014 and we envisage this will be a space where an incredible amount of new learning resources can be created and shared in an interactive, collaborative way,’’ Ms Kaye says.

“I have asked that priority is given to delivering language and special education services and also to reducing repetitive administrative activities,’’ Ms Parata says.

Ms Kaye says the Government is providing world-leading digital infrastructure to schools.

“This announcement means the Government will be providing state-funded access to fibre, school network upgrades and a managed network with uncapped data by the end of 2016.

“This is about providing greater access to learning opportunities for New Zealand students and ensuring they have 21st century skills.’’

Schools can register their interest in connecting to N4L through the website www.n4l.co.nz.

Notes to Editors

What is the managed network?

The managed network connects schools together via a secure data network, offering higher levels of service quality and support than has been available previously. The managed network will also enable schools fast access to the internet and more predictable connections than most schools are using now.

The network will be run over the best mix of ultra-fast, rural, and remote broadband available in New Zealand. It will also be centrally managed, meaning schools will no longer need to support their own internet connection, and this will help reduce related ICT complexity and costs.

Schools will be funded for an N4L package that includes access to the managed network providing quality fast connections, uncapped data, online content filtering and network security services.

21st Century learning initiatives

The Government has invested significantly in ensuring New Zealand school children have access to the best, most innovative 21st century learning opportunities. This includes:

• More than $200 million connecting schools to ultra-fast broadband.

• $157 million on School Network Upgrades to date.

• A further $136 million over the next four years was recently announced to complete the School Network Upgrade Project (SNUP) by 2016 - two years ahead of schedule.

The goal is that schools have access to affordable, safe, quality fast connections, as well as rich educational content and services. We want schools, students and teachers to be more connected to each other to better share ideas and best practice.

Frequently asked questions

Network for Learning managed network and portal

Digital literacy package

What is the managed network for schools?

The managed network connects schools together via a secure data network, offering higher levels of service quality and support than has been available previously. The managed network will also enable schools fast access to the internet and more predictable connections than most schools are using now.

The network will be run over the best mix of ultra-fast, rural, and remote broadband available in New Zealand. It will also be centrally managed, meaning schools will no longer need to support their own internet connection, and this will help reduce related ICT complexity and costs.

Schools will be funded for an N4L package that includes access to the managed network providing quality fast connections, uncapped data, online content filtering and network security services.

What is the Government investing in the managed network?

The Government has committed $211 million until 2020-21 to establish the managed network and fund schools connectivity to it.

What is the purpose of N4L’s portal?

The portal is an online environment where students and teachers connect to each other and share information.

It will provide schools with a safe, collaborative environment where rich learning resources and services are accessed, created and shared.

The portal is a component of the N4L offering to schools and is the responsibility of the company.

All providers and services will be listed in the N4L portal.

Network for Learning Limited (N4L)

What is Network for Learning Limited/N4L?

N4L is a Crown-owned company set up to develop and operate the managed network for schools and to buy access to a range of learning resources and services.

Who is on the Board of the Network for Learning?

N4L is accountable to Shareholding Ministers. Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye has been given responsibility for digital literacy.

Ministers have appointed N4L’s inaugural independent Board, which will govern the company. All decisions about N4L’s operations are made under the authority of the Board. The Board has six members with deep expertise in both the technology and educational sectors.

The Board Chair is Helen Robinson and other Board members are Mark Yeoman (Deputy Chair), Martin Wylie, Rick Shera, Linda Tame and Humphrey Wikeepa.

More information about N4L can be found at www.N4L.co.nz

What is the relationship between the Ministry of Education and N4L?

Both parties want to see technology used to enrich the learning process and lift student achievement.   A joint management group exists to maintain the relationship and ensure the delivery of the managed network and other services.

The managed network

What will the managed network cost schools?

The Government, through the Ministry of Education, is providing schools with funding for a package that includes access to the managed network, uncapped data, and online content filtering and network security services.

Why is a managed network needed?

Not all schools can access consistent, high-quality internet connections. The managed network will ensure more equitable access for all schools and students, regardless of their location.

Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye commissioned independent due diligence on N4L and the managed network concept to ensure it would deliver value for schools. This showed a strong case for the managed network.

Why is it a priority for this Government to put the managed network in place?

This Government is working to ensure that all students can benefit from the opportunities provided by digital technologies to help them achieve, and position New Zealand for success in the future. The managed network is a priority as it will be a key contributor to ensuring more equitable access for schools.

What are the benefits of the managed network for schools?

The managed network will offer schools affordable, safe, predictable, ultra-fast internet connectivity with uncapped data. It will also provide access to a range of rich educational content and services to improve education outcomes.

What are the benefits of the managed network for students?

By using digital technologies over the managed network, students will have access to a wider range of quality teaching and learning resources that can enhance their learning and engagement.

Research shows that digital technologies, coupled with quality teaching, can improve outcomes for learners.

What are the benefits of the managed network for teachers/ schools/ communities?

Schools will be funded for a connection to the managed network, reducing ICT complexity and costs for schools.

The N4L package includes access to the managed network, uncapped data, and online content filtering and network security services.

It is anticipated the use of the managed network will encourage greater collaboration between students, teachers and school leaders around New Zealand.

The managed network will also allow teachers to engage in professional and peer collaboration.

When will the managed network be available?

The first schools will be invited to connect to the managed network by December 2013. Other schools will be invited to connect progressively with around 700 schools by November 2014 and all schools invited to connect by 2016.

What is the current status of the managed network?

The managed network will soon become a reality as N4L has now signed a contract with Telecom. Detailed plans for the progressive roll out of the managed network will be made available within the next few months.

The case for a managed network

Why is the Government funding a managed network?

The Government is funding a managed network to ensure equitable access to higher quality internet connections and uncapped data for schools.

This is providing world-leading digital infrastructure to schools.

This announcement means the Government will be providing state-funded access to fibre, school network upgrades and a managed network with uncapped data by the end of 2016.

This is about providing greater access to learning opportunities for New Zealand students and ensuring they have 21st century skills.

It is not compulsory for schools to sign up to the managed network. Schools continue to have the option to use their existing operations grant to purchase other network services.

What research has been done to inform the development of the managed network?

A National Education Network (NEN) Trial began in 2008 and currently involves around 100 schools. The NEN Trial enabled a number of issues and opportunities to be investigated with regards to schools accessing online content and services over a dedicated network. This information is being used to inform the scope and design of the managed network.

The School ICT Infrastructure Survey released earlier this year (available on the www.educationcounts.govt.nz website) showed varying ICT capability across schools. The managed network will provide a catalyst to support schools to move with confidence to new digital learning opportunities.

Are there international examples of managed networks currently in operation?

Yes, for example, the London Grid for Learning has been in operation for well over 10 years.

Information for schools

How do schools register to connect to the managed network?

From 2 August, schools can register their interest in connecting to the managed network at www.N4L.co.nz

How will schools know when they can connect to the managed network?

All schools will be progressively invited to connect to the managed network. Schools involved in the NEN Trial will be contacted to discuss their options for transition to the managed network over the next 12 months.

The Government has asked N4L to gather data on schools’ current connection arrangements as part of the registration process. This data will enable schools to have a more accurate understanding of contracts they may have with other Retail Service Providers (RSPs).

Can schools purchase other network services?

Throughout the establishment period, schools will continue to have the option to use their existing operations grant to purchase other network services.

Why will it take three years for all schools to be invited to connect to the managed network?

The managed network roll out needs to be phased.

The introduction of the managed network will be limited by the number of schools on fibre and their readiness to take up a contract for service.  N4L will be progressively rolling out its managed network services to as many schools as possible within the shortest possible timeframe. Schools will be encouraged to make use of their fibre connections with other Retail Service Providers (RSPs) as this experience will prepare them well for a transition to the managed network and to make the most of the N4L services when available.

What other support is the Government providing to schools for learning with digital technologies?

The introduction of the managed network aligns with the Government’s wider investment in school information and communications technology. This includes the national rollout of ultra-fast broadband, the physical connection of schools to fibre (the School Connection Project - SCP) and upgrading of schools’ internal ICT infrastructure (the school network upgrade project - SNUP).

These Government projects are due for completion by the end of 2016. Additional funding to accelerate SNUP was provided earlier this year to ensure all schools would be able to gain the benefits as soon as possible.

Are independent schools eligible for the managed network and portal?

The portal will be available to all schools. The managed network package will be funded for state schools and will be available at a cost to independent schools.

Where can I find out more?

Further information on N4L’s services is available on its newly updated website, see: www.N4L.co.nz  

ENDS

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