Network for Learning (N4L) has begun inviting 500 educators to start using Pond, the web portal it is developing to make it easier for schools to find and share trusted educational resources for the classroom.
There has been a surge of demand from teachers to access Pond since N4L and the Minister of Education unveiled its key features at the Festival of Education in March, which include a sophisticated ‘deep search’ function and tools that make it easy for teachers to discover, review, and share educational materials with their peers.
N4L is now looking for digitally savvy teachers who are recognised by their peers for the innovative and engaging way they use technology in the classroom to be the first 500 to pioneer the use of Pond.
Pond will be introduced progressively to schools, with the 500 “Pioneer Educators” gaining access in Term 2 (May-July) with all teachers able to access the portal by the end of the year. A progressive rollout is planned to ensure the feedback gained from the first group of teachers using Pond can be reviewed and incorporated into its further development.
N4L Head of Dynamic Services, Chris South, who is responsible for leading Pond’s development, explains it is important that Pond user experience meets the high expectations of teachers who are leading the way with digital learning.
“There are a large number of teachers in New Zealand who are doing some really exciting things with digital technologies,” says Mr South. “It is important that we take the time to watch, listen and learn how these teachers are using the tools available inside Pond so that we can make further refinements and make sure we are fully meeting their expectations before we make it available to a greater number of teachers.
“We need to get Pond right in the early days, and this includes having the right technology and the right support systems in place as we introduce higher numbers of teachers to Pond, so we are able to maintain the highest level of standards and act on valuable insight gained from working with this first group of teachers.
A small number of teachers have been testing Pond’s environment since February, providing regular feedback to N4L’s Pond development team which they’ve been using to make the service more valuable to users.
Important next step
Teacher tester John Creighton, who is Head of Digital Technologies at Christchurch’s Burnside High School, says he is really pleased with how Pond is developing and thinks that the next lot of 500 teachers will be an important next step for the rollout.
“N4L have been highly responsive to the suggestions our educator advisory group have put to them,” says Mr Creighton. “Instead of developing Pond in a way that N4L think teachers should use it, they are taking the time to watch, listen and learn about our needs and preferences. It’s been a really interactive and supportive process since we’ve started testing Pond.
More than 450 teachers have requested early access into Pond, and 130 organisations have already created ‘provider profiles’ inside the portal showcasing their relevant school offerings.
N4L’s role is to provide equitable access to digital technologies regardless of a school’s location or financial situation. This includes building a government-funded managed network as well as the creation of Pond.
Teachers who are interested in becoming a Pioneer Educator in Pond are encouraged to watch a new video posted to N4L explaining what they can expect from the experience. See www.n4l.co.nz/pond/pioneereducators/ for more info.