$50 million plan for e-Learning in schools

  • Steve Maharey

Using technology to make learning more exciting and innovative is the focus of a $50 million a year action plan launched today by Education Minister Steve Maharey.

The plan was launched today on a visit to New Zealand's first Tablet Classroom, which begins classes at Brooklyn School in Wellington today. The trial involves students completing classwork and homework on small, hand-held computers called "Tablets".

Steve Maharey says the e-learning action plan represents an annual investment of more than $50 million in ICT for schools and sets out goals and activities to support e-learning for the next four years.

"The plan is aimed at ensuring teachers continue to have access to the latest tools so they can foster learning in the most exciting environment," Steve Maharey said.

“It is vital that all children are confident using new technology and have access to it as part of their school day.

"What's exciting about the Tablet project is not just that it's new technology but that it allows children to take charge of their learning. It changes the relationship between teachers and students, and means teaching can more easily be shaped around the way different students learn.

"Almost all New Zealand children now have access to ICT and the learning opportunities it offers, including broadband access to every school gate, and more than 100 ICT clusters. We are committed to ensuring every school is able exploit this.

"Other programmes being supported under the e-learning plan include laptops and training for teachers, upgrades to the school network, and new software licensing to give all schools access to the latest software."

New initiatives being funded under the plan include:

  • Expanding the Virtual Learning Network, which provides video conferencing and resource sharing between schools ($812,000 over three years)
  • Access to the Learning Federation, a Trans-Tasman programme that provides high-quality, interactive digital content for teachers and students ($4.1 million over three years)
  • Providing remote schools with satellite broadband at a subsidised rate, including in the Chatham Islands and Pitt Island ($700,000 over two years)

'Tablet Classroom' sets the scene for e-Learning

  • The Tablet Classroom involves students doing almost all of their work on small, hand-held computers called "Tablets", which they also take home to complete homework on.
  • This is the first ever "Tablet Classroom" to be trialed in a New Zealand school, with the trial to extend to all students at the school from next year.

Background information

Funding for e-Learning Action Plan

Project 2006/07
Te Kete Ipurangi and Digital resources including computer recycling $2.3M
ICT Professional Development clusters $11.8M
Software licensing $8.7M
ICT Helpdesk $0.70M
Principals’ laptops, leadspace and online network $3.83M
E-Learning Fellowship $0.60M
Learning Software $0.21M
ICT Schools Network Upgrade – operational and capital $11.7M
ICT Strategic Framework $0.19M
Internet Safety $0.80M
Learning Federation $1.37M
TELA (Laptops for all teachers) $17.58M
Digital Opportunities projects $1.13M
Virtual learning network (video conferencing) $0.78M
Managed internet services $3.1M
Satellite broadband $0.35M

Tablet classroom trial
The trial will take place at Brooklyn School during the second half of the 2006 school year and involves a class of 28 year 5 and 6 students. Next year, the trial will be extended to all students at the school.

Students will use a stylus to write and draw on their Tablets, which also include foldaway keyboards. Students will do at least 80% of their work on their Tablets.

The only learning areas where the Tablets will not be used to any great extent are in areas such as dance, drama and sport, and in some aspects of art.

All 120 year 7 and 8 students will use Tablets at home and at school for 80% of their work. Students in years 5 and 6 will have access to class sets of Tablets for approximately 50% of their work, while students in the years 1 to 4 will develop skills in the use of the technology by using them in their numeracy and literacy programmes.

The trial is part of the "CHaOS through ICT" project which is jointly funded by the Ministry of Education and HP New Zealand. Tablets have been trialled by a small number of students since 2005 and are now, for the first time, to be used by a whole class and then a whole school.