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Ultra-fast broadband – what difference will it make?

Students with laptops

When you read about ultra-fast broadband, the promise is that it will enable a transformation in teaching and learning. Students, and teachers, will be able to collaborate and learn anytime, anywhere, and from anyone, but does this happen? 

Recently, while filming a school story for Enabling e-Learning, I had the privilege of seeing the benefits of ultra-fast broadband in action at St Hilda’s Collegiate in Dunedin.

Melissa Bell, principal, describes e-learning for them as using a range of digital tools in the classroom to support teaching and learning. Part of their school vision is for learners to develop a set of attributes via the use of digital technologies.

The school paid for ultra-fast broadband to be put into their school and a total upgrade of the wireless network to enable teachers and students to fully utilise the opportunities provided by having 1-1 laptops. A lot of research went into:

  • deciding on the type of 1-1 device they were going to use
  • setting up their wired and wireless system to ensure access for all students anytime, anywhere
  • implementing the use of 1-1 laptops within the school, including staff PD and approaches to teaching and learning.

Currently students have immediate access to the school’s networked computer system, providing on-line facilities for information and research purposes.

So what difference has this made?

The teachers said…..

"It differentiates the learning within the classroom, and enables teachers to extend students based on where they perceive their strengths to be."

Students with laptops

"Teaching approach and delivery has changed, for example in mathematics, there has been a move away from textbooks, pencils, paper, rather it is taught in a contextual way – having the laptops means students can research."

"There are more options for students to take an idea, develop it, create works, analyse those works, come back and clarify them, then produce a finished product. We can be multi-tasking through a unit, and it gives the students more independence. Ultra-fast broadband has meant students aren’t restricted, physically."

"The way you go about teaching lessons has changed, having UFB allows a lot more time for teacher student interaction."

"While you have an overarching goal in mind you have to step back and let the students make some decisions about how they will synthesise, process, and present their learning. The teacher’s role is more supportive."

What difference will ultra-fast broadband make in your school? How are you preparing for it?

Further information about ultra-fast broadband is found in the Getting connected section of Enabling e-Learning.

Watch the webinar When ultra-fast broadband comes to you, where to start? - with Douglas Harré