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Students revel in FarNet opportunities

9 October 2003

MEDIA RELEASE

Students revel in FarNet opportunities

Far North students are creating their own online newspapers, movies and winning international awards thanks to FarNet, an innovative online education programme.

FarNet, supported by Telecom, provides high-speed Internet access, computers and online educational resources to 10 Far North secondary and area schools in remote communities such as Kaitaia, Whangaroa and Opononi.

About 5,000 students and 400 educators are sharing resources online, emailing and surfing the Internet. A bilingual, bicultural website (www.farnet.org.nz) helps make learning and teaching dynamic and fun.

“Fast Internet is changing the way our students communicate and learn,” says Telecom Northland Area Sales Manager Cameron Bell. “The most exciting thing is that what we’re already seeing in the Far North is beginning to occur right around the country – virtual schools bringing very real benefits to young Kiwis.”

The range of opportunities made possible by FarNet means students with widely differing interests benefit from the initiative, Mr Bell says.

The Kerikeri High School Community Problem Solving Team recently won the 2003 World CmPs title (middle division) in Hartford, Connecticut, USA for their successful K.E.R.I. Reading Programme. The team has also picked up the "Bang for Buck" category at the NZ Computerworld Excellence Awards. The learning programme uses audio tapes and computer-based stories to support the interaction between senior and junior students in the school reading programme.

Three students from Okaihau College in the Bay of Islands are using the FarNet website to publish their own student newspaper, The Sandwich Press. The Year 7 students have been writing and collecting articles and poems about their school. They plan to work with students from other FarNet schools to expand their project.

Classmates have created a “virtual tour” of the college that principal Alan Forgie will use include in information packs for potential new staff members.

Traditional parent-teacher report evenings at Te Kura Taumata O Panguru Area School near Kaitaia have been replaced with a student-parent report evening where pupils use IT solutions to illustrate their schoolwork.

“Students created a presentation for their parents that described both the successes and challenges they had experienced during the first half of the school year,” says principal Mina Pomare.

“Teachers, students and parents all benefit from the creation of these presentations since they provide an opportunity to create a partnership for student achievement.”

Students from around the region recently attended a FarNet movie making workshop at Kaitaia College to learn digital video editing skills and produce promotional videos about their own schools

FarNet manager Nancy Groh says videoconferencing facilities are being established, allowing schools to offer subjects beyond those taught by their own teaching staff.

FarNet, part of the Government’s Digital Opportunities initiative, helps to attract and retain teachers in the Far North and means senior students no longer need to move to larger towns to pursue their chosen subjects.

ENDS

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