Net access helps learning
Moves to turn pupils into digital citizens extend beyond the school gates in East Auckland.
The Tamaki Learning Network aims to provide wireless internet access to the homes of students in the area and its completion is only a couple of months away, Point England School principal Russell Burt says.
The project is among a range of initiatives run by the Manaiakalani Education Trust, an organisation that aims to lift educational and employment outcomes for young people by improving digital literacy among children who attend 11 schools in the Tamaki area.
Pupils do the majority of their academic work on lease-to-own netbooks (East & Bays Courier, April 5) from year 5 onwards.
Shannon Samuels' children are part of the Tamaki Learning Network pilot. Son Levi, who is a year 7 student at Point England School, logs on at home through the network and her year 5 son Jordan will be taking his netbook home from the end of the year.
Mrs Samuels is a big supporter of the initiative.
"Through blogging Levi has done more writing and got better at it than he would have otherwise.
"There are more creative outlets for them to learn to read and write this way and there are no missed learning opportunities."
Parents have the opportunity to receive digital training and this has resulted in more family engagement, the Pt England woman says.
"I have so many friends who are now so much more involved in their children's learning.
"The parents are learning things like how to post comments and encourage their children about their blogs. It's all just positive reinforcement for the child as well."
Mr Burt says the network is now up and running in about 25 per cent of pupils' homes in the Tamaki area.
Multiple stakeholders are on board including mayor Len Brown who signed a memorandum of understanding with the Manaiakalani Education Trust on July 31.
Wi-fi antennae are being attached to lamp-posts in the area to create overlapping circles of coverage, he says.
This means students will be able to connect to the internet throughout the neighbourhood.
Levi says the greater accessibility to the internet will be beneficial to his learning.
"I will be able to take my netbook to places and post stuff on my blog instead of writing on a piece of paper."
But it won't mean free access for all.
The connection is linked to each student's netbook address.
The filtering that occurs at school will also be in place, Mr Burt says.
Having an internet connection is rare in the community where roughly 70 per cent of those living nearby don't have a landline.
This is about levelling the playing field, he says.
"Kids in high decile communities have digital access on the 3G network. Our Maori and Pasifika kids should have equitable access to what other kids have.
"We want to extend the hours and opportunity of learning," he says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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