Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru is a Rotorua-based trust dedicated to providing ‘ubiquitous learning’ across the district and is creating its vision in two ways, writes Lee Suckling.
“The first objective is to assist in putting a device into the hands of every child in Rotorua,” explained Adam Ellis, Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru’s Director of Technology. “The second is to create a wireless network that covers the entire district of Rotorua, including surrounding areas such as Matata, Broadlands and Reporoa.”
The goal of these objectives, Adam adds, is “to take learning past 3pm”.
“We need to start looking at connectivity as a right, not a privilege. It should be as easy as turning your radio on in your car. Connecting after 3pm, outside of school hours, is a must.”
Rotorua has a predominantly Māori demographic and census details suggest 62 per cent of its Māori population are ‘connected’.
“But what census data doesn’t tell you is that quality of that connection. Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru is dedicated to improving that quality. So, if a device is in the hands of a child as it goes home, what effect does that have on the rest of the whānau? What does it do for second-chance learners, and the elderly?”
Dedicated space in-store
The trust launched three years ago and kick-started with a plan to get one device in the hand of each Rotorua child. Within two weeks, Apple had expressed interest in being part of it. Over the first few months, both Samsung and HP also come on board.
“The process isn’t just about giving kids iPads or tablets. We have a system of evaluative thinking. We look at the current state of connectivity within a school, what ecosystem and infrastructure is in place, and work through the process of engaging with principals, teachers and parents, and working with them to future focus their learning environment.”
In order to facilitate this, Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru has a ‘bricks and mortar’ representation in the shape of Noel Leeming.
“The company employed an ex-teacher, who works in a dedicated space in-store, so any parent and their child can walk straight in and have somebody to talk to.
“They’re asked ‘What’s your school?’, and then they’re taken through the whole process of getting a device for that particular ecosystem.”
Co-construct a desired state
Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru currently services 34 of the 50 schools in the district. By 2018, all 50 schools will be on board.
“We work with the schools to ascertain their current state of connectivity, and then co-construct a desired state. The goal is ubiquitous learning, and we work on that specific to each school and set targets on how we’re going to get there.”
Rotorua Boys’ High School is a particular success story for the project.
“The school decided it wanted a 1:1 iPad programme for all Year 9s. As a decile 3 high school, we worked with Noel Leeming and Apple to see how we could fund those who needed it.
“The Principal had a target of half of new Year 9 students coming with an iPad. We were all amazed when 71 per cent of them turned up with one.”
Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru and Noel Leeming deploy mobile device management (MDM) software Lightspeed onto every device, so it automatically configures to a school’s SSID, server rules, and app requirements out-of-the-box, with no technician intervention. This, Adam agrees, is a perfect example of “quality connectivity”.
The wireless network side of the trust is currently funding a business case with the Rotorua District Council for feasibility.
“The underlying thing is for kids that can’t afford connectivity after 3pm to connect for free. The only way to do this is to partner with an investor, because of the infrastructure and support costs. When we get there, everybody in the district wins.”
Lee Suckling writes for INTERFACE Magazine.
For more on Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru go to npew.org
Nga– PU–manawa e Waru
Nga- Pu-manawa e Waru’s mission is to “make Rotorua a great place to learn”. It’s working to bring all schools, learners, iwi, communities and wha-nau of Rotorua together to share a common kaupapa – one that is connected, future focused and centered on learner achievement.
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