School IT enters BYO era

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 11:42 22/11/2012
College

Online: Otaki College students at work on the school’s computers, from front, Sapphire Snedden, Tineal Teu, and Gay-Marie Wallace.

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Otaki College has delved into bring-your-own-device learning as Kapiti becomes part of one of the most "fundamental shifts" in teaching.

College head of digital technology Chris Magill said when students arrived at school with mobile devices they were carrying the collective knowledge of the world in their pockets.

"BYOD will contribute significantly to the current changing role of the teacher, in that the power of who has the knowledge is shifting from the teacher to the student. Technology and the internet have levelled the playing field - teachers are no longer seen as the 'sage on the stage', but are more likely seen as a facilitator, or the 'guide on the side'."

Mr Magill spoke to the Kapiti Observer as the school wraps up the year as a trial college - one of only two in the Wellington region - for a powerful new wireless system by international company Allied Telesis.

Mr Magill said wireless was one of the most important modern technologies.

"In the past, range, or coverage, was important, however, this is not so much of an issue any more as most wireless access points deliver adequate range. We are more concerned about bandwidth - the system's ability to cope with multiple connections at the same time, while still delivering an expected quality of service."

Wireless allows students and teachers to use portable devices like tablets and smart phones in the school.

"I expect most schools will be grappling with the decisions around how these devices are actually used in the classroom for some time to come."

Mr Magill said there didn't seem to be a one-size-fits-all approach to using the technology - it was "simply too new".

"We are in the infancy of a technological shift that will significantly shape the future of education in New Zealand and the world." He said with the new system, staff and some senior students have access to the internet via their own devices.

"It is a very complex setup, but is the most secure way of creating a distinction between school-based devices, and personal devices. The BYOD internet connection is filtered and monitored for safety and security purposes."

The trial will allow the company to fine tune its system for the school market - and the college keeps the wireless.

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