Education technology in New Zealand is rapidly changing due to the introduction of high-speed broadband internet to schools across the country. Students have good access to technology in their classrooms, and some schools are beginning to integrate portable devices into their teaching and learning programs.

The New Zealand Information and Communications Technology Strategic Framework for Education states that all students should be able to access information and communications technology at school and have the opportunity to become confident and capable users.

To help, New Zealand’s Ministry of Education funds a programme called the Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES), which allows schools to provide licensed programs for software. The Ministry also runs a dedicated video conferencing bridge and other e-learning services for schools. Just as technology is dominant in classrooms to help students learn, it’s also being used for innovative professional development for K-12 teachers. That’s where The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education comes in.

The Faculty of Education is committed to improving the quality and understanding of education and social services in New Zealand. It’s using a webcasting platform called Mediasite by Sonic Foundry to meet e-Learning requirements in schools across the country. The University delivers online professional development via webcasts available to teachers in 250 K-12 schools.

The Faculty of Education is building a series of Mediasite webcasts for year six to year 12 teaching and learning programmes, and topics are centered on the new national curriculum. The programme offers professional development across all regular curriculum areas, and a new bilingual webcast programme is also offered to educators who teach in the indigenous language, Te Reo Maori. Teachers can watch these state-of-the-art webcasts live or on demand, and they involve interactive polls, Q&As, links to resources and searchable closed captioning.

A variety of other technologies are also being used in New Zealand schools. The TELA laptop scheme, for example, gives laptops to all teachers to enable them to integrate e-Learning into all their programmes. This initiative gives educators the opportunity to access a leased laptop for three years, with the Ministry of Education funding two-thirds of the total costs.

Interactive whiteboards are being replaced by interactive flat screen TVs in some schools, as fast-speed broadband rollout is introduced nationally.

The general sentiment in New Zealand K-12 schools about technology is that the cost for schools to access technology continues to be a challenge. The cost of equipment and upgrades, the speed of technological change and technical support all come with a price tag (about 11% of a school’s operations grant), but in today’s 21st-century classroom, technology is a necessity.

This column first appeared in Tech & Learning. It also ran in University Business in the UK last month.

Mark Dashper is a facilitator for Team Solutions and Te Puna Wananga (School of Maori Education) in the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland. He uses Mediasite by Sonic Foundry (www.sonicfoundry.com/mediasite) for his academic video initiatives. Learn more about Mark at www.sonicfoundry.com/customer/mark-dashper.