News & Information

The NBN in the home and in the school

The NBN isn't just enabling better learning opportunities in the school; Amy Small and her mum Michelle Small talk about how services over the NBN are also impacting learning in the home.

Teachers create virtual classrooms with no boundaries

Case study: St Peter Chanel Catholic School

Finding new ways to engage and inspire students is a priority for all school teachers. Smaller class sizes, a greater focus on practical learning and the use of technology to assist learning are all approaches that schools are encouraged to adopt.

In November 2010, St Peter Chanel Catholic School in Smithton Tasmania, connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN), and has successfully used technology to adopt new ways of teaching.

Headmaster Clynton Scharvi has found that children are immersing themselves in new learning experiences and relishing the opportunities that the NBN offers.

"We anticipate a change in how children learn and retain information as the NBN provides them with a more well-rounded learning experience," explains Clynton. "It removes many of the barriers and limits to what children can investigate."

The new approach is designed to increase enjoyment at school, expose children to new ways of learning and communicating, foster creativity and curiosity, and ultimately deliver better learning outcomes and results.
Faster internet speeds allow teachers to harness online learning

Prior to the NBN connection, St Peter Chanel Catholic School's slow internet speeds made it difficult for teachers to adopt online learning methods in the classroom.

"Our download speeds were much slower and we had a lot of problems with our equipment," explains Clynton.

"Although we had budget for newer technology, we were still restricted by slow internet speeds and found it difficult to download large files such as videos and audio recordings."

"Children are engaged and enthused and the NBN is outstanding in supporting discovery or inquiry-based learning."
Teachers continue to embrace new skills

Clynton explains that continuing to up-skill teachers on ICT has been key in keeping students engaged with online learning.

"The fact that the kids are so engaged motivates our teachers, which drives the whole learning process. Going back three or four years, having a teacher set up a data projector and screen was a big deal. Now we have teachers using iPads, Google applications online and seeking out new ways to enhance online learning through the NBN," said Clynton.

Teachers embrace e-learning

Providing practical, hands on training for Vocational Education Trainers (VET) was one of the key focus areas for Skills Tasmania's e-learning unit.

Case study: Skills Tasmania

Providing practical, hands on training for Vocational Education Trainers (VET) was one of the key focus areas for Skills Tasmania's e-learning unit.

Based in Hobart, Jennifer Dunbabin and Peter Shanks are two of Skills Tasmania's e-learning coordinators who provide online resources to help teachers and VETs in Tasmanian schools incorporate e-learning into their teaching curriculum.

According to Jennifer, online learning is almost impossible for people who don't have a good internet connection: "For people who have restricted internet bandwidth, the types of information they can view are limited by how patient they are or how long they can wait for the resources to download to their computers."

The impact of limited bandwidth on both teachers and students has been significant, "We've been restricted in terms of what we can teach and how we can teach which has had a big impact on the student's learning experience."
Distance and time are no longer barriers

Skills Tasmania believes things will improve greatly once the NBN has been rolled out.
Moving into an online learning environment where everyone is connected to the NBN, will deliver enormous accessibility, cost and time saving benefits.

"With the NBN, learning experiences will be greatly enhanced with much smoother online discussions and interactions. It will provide so many more people (including teachers) the opportunity to learn and break down the barriers of distance and time."

"One of the things which is a challenge for many teachers is that they are time poor. So those who can't join the online learning sessions live can watch the recorded sessions at a time which suits them. Often this might mean individuals logging on at 10 o'clock at night or early in the morning so there's a whole range of accessibility options that open up when you're able to learn online," Jennifer said.
Training no longer limited by location

One of Skills Tasmania's students and VET trainer, Kai Mohell, based at Circular Head Christian School in Smithton, undertook Skills Tasmania's, 23 Things, a professional development course based on e-learning techniques.

Kai's explains that undertaking the training online was simple once he was connected to the NBN.

With Circular Head's VET students expected to grow from just over 20 students to 50 students in 2011, Kai's training has enabled him to look at more ways to provide course delivery online.

"Now I've done the training we're looking at ways we could teach students online and offer courses to other schools through virtual classrooms. This would involve having a camera in the classroom so that our trainer can teach the class in a physical classroom while it is also being broadcast on the internet. This would enable live questions and online discussions with students in other schools, some of them remote. It means that training is no longer limited by your actual location."

"With the NBN, very soon people will be logging onto virtual machines on a cloud computer and they will have their applications hosted completely separately from the material they have at home. It will totally transform the way in which we teach and our students learn."

Jennifer concludes: "Through the NBN the entire learning experience will be greatly enriched and I have visions of people being able to run live experiments for students from state of the art facilities around the world. The NBN will create a much closer connection between individuals so that it will be like the whole world is there on my computer."

NSW firefighters ignite e-learning flame

Fire and Rescue NSW are embracing e-learning opportunities made available via the NBN to remotely train over 6,000 fire fighters across the state.

The forward-thinking firefighters have developed an innovative training program which allows regional emergency crews to further develop their fire investigation skills. Regional fire crews can now receive real time feedback while on site at a local fire scene via live streaming video camera technology, saving precious time and money often associated with face-to-face training.