Students across New Zealand will soon benefit from a more seamless and safer internet experience in their classrooms when Network for Learning (N4L) begins a four-year wireless upgrade programme next month.
Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has announced classroom internet throughout hundreds of schools will get a boost via a new support programme, Te Mana Tūhono, (the power of connectivity).
From February, N4L will begin replacing more than 12,000 switches and 38,000 wireless access points across New Zealand’s 2450-plus schools, and providing support along the way via its helpdesk.
“We’ve designed Te Mana Tūhono with the vision of removing the burden on schools to monitor, maintain and manage the internet inside their classrooms. We’re excited to partner with N4L in delivering this long-term programme of support to schools over the next few years.” says Kim Shannon, Head of Education Infrastructure Services.
Around 200 schools will get their equipment replaced before the end of June 2020. These will be schools with limited access to IT support, and with aging network hardware that is coming out of extended warranty. The remaining schools will be upgraded over the following four years.
Craig McDonald-Brown, Principal of Awakeri School, a rural full primary school 12km southwest of Whakatane, is looking forward to being part of the Te Mana Tūhono programme:
“We live in a connected world, and there are great learning opportunities available through the internet. At the moment our wireless infrastructure doesn't support us accessing what it has to offer. It’s really disruptive to our learning when it stops working, and is frustrating to both teachers and students.
“We are really looking forward to N4L supporting us with establishing and maintaining a strong online connection. It means we'll be able to spend more time focusing on our students’ learning without having to worry about managing and maintaining the technology."
N4L CEO Larrie Moore says “We recognise that IT knowledge and skills vary among schools, and there is a need for safe and seamless internet access inside classrooms so they can have a better online learning experience.
“Simply put, they need to be able to trust their internet where and when it’s needed so they can get on with great teaching and learning.”
As with N4L’s previous IT rollouts, the company will appoint a panel of local IT support companies to assist with the replacement of network switches and wireless access points, partnering with highly-skilled technology companies which have a proven track-record of working successfully with schools.
If a school’s wireless internet equipment fails before it is scheduled to be upgraded, then N4L will fix or replace it, as part of a programme that’s been in place since 2018 when N4L began extending the warranty support on school network hardware.