Schools go hi-tech
Schools are collaborating to get the latest technologyADAM ROBERTS
The adage "a problem shared is a problem halved" has been updated for the new millenium, with schools collaborating on wireless internet access.
The Waimea Cluster has opened its new wireless system, creating a high-end service that could be expanded across the Nelson Loop.
Typically when schools want to install a wireless network system, they have to buy a hardware controller and a series of access points.
But Waimea College ICT director Paul Crofskey said the school had seen the cost involved, and realised it would be more economical for schools to join forces to provide wireless.
The college manages the main web-based manager via the Nelson Loop, so other schools that want to use the network need only buy their own access points and work off the central management consul, rather than buying their own hardware controller.
"It stops the repetition of smaller schools having to have large, expensive pieces of hardware."
The service has been extended to the schools in the Waimea Cluster - the college, Waimea Intermediate and Henley School - as well as Garin College.
The move meant smaller schools had the chance to use a high-end wireless system without spending as much.
"Now we're at the stage where some of those schools, if they wish to, can budget for that and join (the network)."
Geographical location did not matter, as long as schools were connected to the Nelson Loop, he said.
Schools could also use the network's sophisticated security features, meaning certain users, such as students, were banned from certain sites at certain times of the day.
"A small school still needs all the same duty-of-care as a large school does, but to providing that for a school of 100 can be expensive," Mr Crofskey said.
The network is robust enough to scale up to 10,000 users simultaneously - useful at a time when smartphones and wireless devices were becoming more common.
Henley School principal John Armstrong said the move was a brilliant idea that allowed schools to move with the times and use portable devices.
"The days of having one computer in the corner of a classroom - we're moving away from that."
Waimea College student Nicola Hone, 15, said she used her iPhone in class to look up information on the internet, or calculate answers in maths. If she had had access to a smartphone when she was at primary school, she would have used apps to make reading more fun, she said.
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