Students of Rongotai College sit NCEA exams – Image supplied by NZQA
With more schools expected to offer exams online this year, Network for Learning (N4L) is this week beginning free school internet health checks to ensure students can have the best and safest digital exam experience.
Through a partnership with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), Crown company N4L is preparing for more than 300 schools to take up the free offer to assess their exam room internet speeds and security, determine if there are any ‘dead spots’ without connectivity, and check that their wireless equipment can cope with the extra demand in the exam areas.
The checks are designed to minimise disruption during the exam period and keep students safe online and focused on their exam material.
Safety and security is a big focus, and N4L will suggest ways schools can stop students from reaching non-authorised websites and prevent outside intruders from tampering with their systems. Last year, N4L was able to ensure a school undergoing an online security attack could continue with its digital exam.
This is the second year N4L has offered the pre-exam health checks while also supporting schools throughout the exam period with its helpdesk. Orewa College was among 140 schools assessed last year and Deputy Principal Sue McCarthny has signed up again for a 2020 checkup.
“These assessments give our school the assurance we need that there will be no unexpected surprises during the exam period,” says Ms McCarthny, who expects around 700 of her students to sit at least 17 online exams in November.
“I was really impressed how thoroughly N4L checks all the exam rooms, and in doing so they picked up a few shortfalls which could have led to an issue during exams that we weren’t prepared for. They also suggested improvements we could make and explained the benefits and risks in a way that helped us make informed decisions on what we should do to better prepare for online exams.”
N4L CEO Larrie Moore says the there is a heightened focus on safety and security with the checks this year: “Giving schools the confidence their internet will work properly, is protected from outside intruders, and is set up to stop students going where they shouldn’t is crucial to fostering an environment where students are able to fully focus on their exams so they can do their very best on the big day.”
“We are delighted to help NZQA, schools and students build this confidence and achieve their digital exam goals.”
Andrea Gray, NZQA’s Digital Assessment Transformation Deputy Chief Executive, says the N4L partnership is important for preparing schools for digital exams: “We want every student sitting an exam to have a positive online experience. And providing the right technical support for schools is a critical part of their preparation so they are confident of delivering a good exam experience for their students.”
Ms Gray said having N4L on hand last year helped resolve connectivity issues quickly and no candidate was adversely affected.
Two-thirds of the NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) exams can now be delivered digitally in 2020 thanks to a recent funding boost announced by the Minister of Education in June.
About Network for Learning (N4L)
N4L connects all ākonga to smart and safe internet for learning. Today, all New Zealand public schools and their 825,000 students have access to a safe and reliable online learning environment through N4L. The Crown company works alongside government, education and technology partners on ways to provide safe connectivity for students living without home internet access so they can carry on learning with their whānau, beyond the school gate. See www.n4l.co.nz