No more headaches as schools hook up to faster internet

LIB WILSON
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014

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About 75 schools throughout Waikato have hooked into a government-funded internet network aimed at ending the days of IT "headaches".

The $211m managed Network for Learning (N4L) is part of a plan to get fast, reliable, uncapped internet into schools and is now running well ahead of schedule.

The first schools were connected in late 2013, and the 700th to get connected was a Bay of Islands kura last week - meaning the target for this year has already been reached.

Mercury Bay Area School in Whitianga has been on the network for about 18 months, which principal John Wright said was "fabulous".

"It's having an impact on not only the way we teach and learn but also young people's ability to become effective learners," Wright said.

"It's just another tool but it's a pretty sophisticated one."

The area school is one of about 75 in Waikato to be using the high-speed internet.

Connections for state, state-integrated and partnership schools are funded by the Government and are predominantly fibre.

Speeds were determined by the size of the school roll and could be up to 500 Mbps (megabits per second), N4L marketing manager Andy Schick said.

"We've calculated what the average student is using now across the board and we're giving them 10 times more than that."

The Government-owned company manages the network and related aspects, such as firewalls, security and filtering with the aim of removing "headaches around IT stuff".

A newly created ICT advisory service allows connected schools to talk through problems.

Around 75 Waikato schools from the Coromandel to Taupo were hooked up to the N4L and most of the rest had registered interest, Schick said.

"We absolutely expect that by the end of the rollout every school in the Waikato will have chosen to connect to the managed network."

Pond.co.nz - a resource-sharing site for teachers - is another project of the company.

It will allow teachers to share their content and plans, as well as commenting on or sharing others' resources.

"The best way of describing it is a mashup between Facebook and Trip Advisor," Schick said. libby.wilson@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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