The Hon Nikki Kaye, Associate Minister of Education, today announced a range of initiatives to help ensure that every student benefits from the advantages of digital technologies for learning. She drew on the recommendations of the 21st Century Learning Reference Group’s report Future-focused learning in connected communities that was published in May 2014 to develop a holistic approach to learning in a digital environment. Towards Digital Fluency addresses all four dimensions of learning in the 21st Century – infrastructure, teaching and learning practices, online content and equitable access.
Of special interest to the 2020 Trust are the initiatives aimed at ensuring equitable access to digital learning for every learner regardless of location, learning needs or family background. The Trust’s Computers in Homes initiative, that receives most of its funding from the Ministry of Education, directly addresses the issue of equitable access by helping students in the most disadvantaged communities get access to computer equipment and the internet in their homes. While the Minister’s initiatives naturally focus on ways in which schools can directly address equitable access, she has recognised the value of initiatives that enable students to use the internet out of school hours. Computers in Homes is one way that this can be achieved and has the added advantage of engaging parents more directly in their children’s learning.
Using schools as digital hubs is another is another initiative recognised by the Minister. 90% of all schools now have a fibre connection which opens the broadband door to nearly every remote and rural community. Our trust has supported initiatives in Kaingaroa Forest, Umawera in the Far North, the East Coast on the North Island and the West Coast of the South Island to connect students’ homes with their local schools using wireless technologies and obtain access to the internet through the school’s fibre connection.
Minister Kaye has created this opportunity for rural communities; we now look to her colleague Minister Adams to ensure that round 2 of the Rural Broadband Initiative provides the necessary capital for community wireless operators to make this “last mile” connection to homes.