Last updated: 07.03.12

School produces 'fit for 21st century' virtual learning environment

A New Zealand educational establishment is increasing its focus on online learning tools.

The North Shore Times reports Murrays Bay Intermediate School's principal Colin Dale is allowing students to use modern technologies in their lessons.

A spokesman from the Educational Ministry told the publication schools are allowed to decide how to incorporate online tools and e-learning into their education.

Mr Dale explained children use mobile telephones, iPads and iPods and take advantage of all the technological innovations available.

"It's not monitored," he noted, pointing out his pupils might use a cellphone to take photographs, as calculators or to communicate with each other.

This approach appears to be successful, with academic results revealing the innovative approach to education has a positive effect.

E-books and iPhone applications are superseding blackboards and textbooks to create a virtual learning environment in classrooms, with careful budgeting ensuring every pupil can receive the tools they need.

Some students bring their own computers to school and Mr Dale claimed the facility has not experienced any problems relating to children "missing out or not having their own" devices.

If this happened, staff would help them out, but parents typically view ensuring their children have the tools they need in lessons as a priority.

The principal argued: "Technology will underpin everything we do - we have no choice in my view but to go with it."

Furthermore, at the start of every day, children prepare a TV news bulletin, which is streamed to each classroom.

Parents are allowed to watch this and can keep up-to-date with their youngster's successes over the internet, which Mr Dale said is particularly useful for mothers and fathers who live in different countries.

As well as a focus on providing pupils with technological abilities, the school deals with the cultural areas of drama, art, orchestras, choirs and bands.

"It comes down to the vision that the principal, together with the board, has for the school," he was quoted by the publication as saying, adding: "Ours is that we are a digital school for the 21st century."