Last updated: 30.06.12

Low-income New Zealand school boosts attainment with online learning

A New Zealand school is improving the academic performance of its students by investing in e-learning tools.The Aucklander reports that Pt England, in Auckland's low-income Glen Innes suburb, has used digital and online learning technologies to increase the exam results of its pupils.Attendees typically only have three exercise books, but use laptops, interactive whiteboards using Google applications, blogs and online assignments instead, while staying connected to their classes' webpages over the internet.These sites contain instructions for pupils and spaces for them to create movies, songs and other creative pieces.Parents, who typically have an average income of NZ$19,000 (£8,200), pay $3.50 (£1.79) every week to provide students with netbooks as part of the innovative e-learning scheme.Principal of the school Russell Burt told the publication: "It's really amazing and cool when you consider the average adult income."He pointed out mothers and fathers bought into the project quickly, although most of them do not have their own computer in their house.Members of the local community typically use prepaid mobile telephones to manage their finances, while around 70 per cent of households do not have landlines, he continued.Furthermore, many families lack internet access, so Auckland Council installed wireless networks on streetlights to enable students to access virtual learning environments from anywhere in the district."We're trying to get rid of two phrases - 'schoolwork' and 'homework'. We just want to talk about learning. So you do it at home, at school, wherever you are, in the park. We're trying to get [wireless access] in the park," Mr Burt told the news source.The e-learning innovations made in the school provide a significantly different educational environment than that seen in traditional classroom and textbook-based education, the principal added, pointing out traditionally a learner would complete a task and shut their book, so no-one ever sees what they have done.Online learning courses have helped the school improve the literacy of students and their oral language ability, while enabled them to become talented in movie making, podcasting and a number of other useful skills.