New features revealed at ULearn make it easier for teachers to share classroom resources
Teachers are gearing up to make a bigger splash in Pond, the new digital learning hub designed by Crown-company Network for Learning (N4L), now available to all educators and administrative staff working in New Zealand schools.
When teachers return from school holidays on 13 Oct, they can take part in N4L’s new ‘Make a Splash’ programme designed to help them make the most of Pond. More than 75 schools representing around 2000 teachers have already signed up to be part of the programme, and they will join the 1500 teachers already inside Pond.
Programme participants will be using the new Pond features being unveiled today at the annual ULearn conference which enable users to group and bookmark resources. N4L is demonstrating several of these features to some of the 2000+ attendees of ULearn teachers conference this week in Rotorua:
Pond’s new features
“Teachers have told us they want the ability to group items into related topics,” says Chris South, N4L’s Head of Dynamic Services, responsible for Pond’s development. “From today, they can now bundle resources into ‘buckets’, and other teachers can easily view and share these buckets within Pond. We wanted to make it easier for teachers to see what their colleagues in other schools find interesting and useful for student learning and their own professional development.”
Other new Pond features include the ability to bookmark items (called ‘Ka Pai’, the Maori name for ‘good’) and a new ‘Ponder this …’ tool allowing teachers to save items into Pond via a Chrome web browser (by clicking on a Pond icon on the browser’s toolbar). Teachers can now also upload documents directly to Pond.
N4L is regularly adding new features and refining existing functionality to ensure Pond remains responsive to the needs of teachers now and in the future. Teachers are already using Pond to discover new resources they can use in their classroom and to connect with colleagues across the country.
What teachers are saying about Pond
“We are always looking for new ways to engage our students and improve their learning,” says Steve Hornby, a primary school teacher from Solway School in Masterton. “Pond prompts us to a consider alternative education resources that we may not have otherwise known about. If a colleague teaching the same subject in another school has found an online programme that has helped get their students excited about a topic, then our teachers can see this in Pond and review the programme knowing that their peers have used it and liked it. It tells us that that resource is worth investigating for our own use.”
Primary school teacher Trudi Browne, who is introducing Pond to Burnside primary school teachers in Christchurch, says the response to using Pond has been really positive: “Our teachers are enjoying following the teacher profiles of their colleagues in other schools. The search engine is also proving popular as it allows us to go deep into the archives of Digital NZ and search video clips that are hard to find on regular search engines. Pond’s search returns the more educationally useful material to the top of the list and this saves us time having to go look for them.”
Ahead of schedule
Both the rollout of N4L’s Pond and Managed Network are running are ahead of schedule, with the company surpassing its end-year target of giving all teachers access to Pond a couple of of months early. The Managed Network surpassed its 700th connection nearly five months ahead of schedule, with 920 schools connected to date. A connection to N4L’s Managed Network is not required to use Pond, which can be accessed with any internet connection.
For more information, please contact:
Julie Landry, N4L Communications, 09 222 0142 or Julie.email@example.com
About Network for Learning (N4L)
Network for Learning (N4L) is building a Managed Network and a digital learning hub called Pond, specifically designed for New Zealand schools. The Government-funded Managed Network provides fast and predictable internet with uncapped data; web filtering and network security services. Pond offers a collaborative environment where teachers can discover a wide range educational resources for classrooms and share them with their peers. The aim is to give schools equitable access to digital technologies that can enable new ways of learning and improve student achievement.