School names and sneak peek of portal unveiled at ULearn conference

The company bringing safe, fast and predictable internet to New Zealand schools, Network for Learning (N4L), today announced the names of more than 20 schools that have begun the transition to its managed network.

The names of the schools connecting this year were announced today by Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye at the ULearn conference in Hamilton, where more than 1,500 teachers and education leaders gather annually to discuss the latest developments in teaching and learning. The map of schools connected to the Managed Network can be found here.

Conference attendees were treated to the first live demonstration of the N4L portal this week, which will provide schools a safe, collaborative and dynamic digital learning hub where trusted educational resources will be discovered, shared and rated. The portal will be introduced to schools from February 2014.

“Having the first schools coming on board is really exciting,” says N4L CEO John Hanna. “The response from principals has been overwhelmingly positive. They tell us they are looking forward to increasing their school’s use of digital technologies in the classroom knowing they will no longer be constrained by data caps and greatly fluctuating internet speeds.”

Mr Hanna explains that N4L will be taking a progressive, balanced approach to connecting schools, ensuring a broad mix of schools are connected this year. He says this allows the company to build up a range of knowledge from different school environments before connecting more than 700 schools by the end of 2014.

Teacher Trevor Storr, who is with South Canterbury’s Waimate High School, one of the 20+ schools transitioning to N4L this year, believes a managed network connecting the country’s schools has the potential to transform learning, and is looking forward to be among the first transitioning to the government- funded managed network, which will include uncapped data, content filtering and network security services.

“As a rural and relatively isolated school we have to work with other schools to provide the very best opportunities for our students and teachers,” explains Mr Storr. “A national network of schools connected by fibre will make it easier for sharing and learning to take place across the country and will allow our school community to learn with and from their peers.”

Prior to releasing a list of schools being offered an N4L connection in 2014, the company is asking the 1700+ schools registered through its website to complete an online questionnaire to better understand each school’s IT support needs. Schools wanting to be considered for a 2014 N4L connection are encouraged to to complete the questionnaire by Oct 25 as this will help the company finalise next year’s schedule.

“Every school is different,” says Mr Hanna. “There is no one size fits all approach. We are building a managed network that is capable of connecting more than 800,000 students, teachers and school administrators across the country. It’s important to get it right. This means ensuring we have the support in place to seamlessly transition schools and help them get the most from our services.”

Schools transitioning to the managed network this year will benefit from internet speeds of up to 100Mbs, which is approximately 10x faster than what most of them are getting now. Connection speeds for all schools transitioning to N4L in 2014 will be released by the end of the year.

ENDS

For more information, please contact:

Julie Landry, N4L Communications, 09 222 0142 or julie.landry@n4l.co.nz

About the Network for Learning (N4L)

N4L is building a managed network and portal specifically designed for schools. The managed network will run over fibre, connecting New Zealand’s 2,500+ schools to safe, predictable and fast internet with uncapped data; content filtering and network security services. The Crown-owned company will also build a portal offering a safe, collaborative environment where trusted educational content and services are discovered, knowledge is shared and constructive engagement is recognised. The aim is to give schools equitable access to digital technologies, enabling new ways of learning that lead to improved student achievement. Schools will be funded for their connection to N4L’s managed network.