Teachers taking tech lessons from pupils

MICHELLE ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 26/08/2012

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Teachers struggling to keep pace with new technology are relying on their students for advice.

Schools are racing to introduce high-speed broadband and equip students with the latest computers, but teachers lack the knowledge to protect them in the digital world.

Cyberbullying and children's tendency to share personal information on social network sites are worrying parents, a recent AVG antivirus company survey shows. This is no surprise to Secondary Schools Principals' Association president Patrick Walsh, who says many older teachers struggle with technology.

"They have gone through training college without that technology. Teachers have got used to whiteboards, data projectors, iPads and iPhones, but as soon as they learn, there's something new."

Student "techie" groups were popping up in schools, where pupils shared their expertise and helped teachers. "The kids are good about it if you ask," Walsh said.

His school, Rotorua's John Paul College, has had its firewalls breached by spyware from within. "Students have used it to try to access their marks. Some see it as a challenge. It's a constant cat and mouse game."

This year the college would spend $20,000 on network protection for its ultrafast broadband, scheduled for October, and thousands on maintenance, Walsh said. Although the Government paid for basic network antivirus protection, and each school had an IT budget for infrastructure, maintenance and staff, technology remained expensive.

"A lot of it depends on the school's income. Schools that struggle have real difficulties."

New Zealand lags behind countries such as Australia, where year nine students are equipped with government-funded laptops, but continues to invest in broadband and IT infrastructure.

The global study surveyed more than 4500 parents in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, on how technology was changing the childhoods of 14 to 17-year-olds.

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- Sunday Star Times

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