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Internet access is boosting Kiwi children’s learning – but many parents are missing out

A new survey has found that Kiwi kids are learning online at school, often from their first year at primary school - but many parents are missing out on the action.


By: Simon Collins 

Marshall Laing Primary School encourages pupils to bring their own devices. Photo / Nick Reed

The vast majority of teachers and principals said online educational resources were improving children’s learning, especially for students who were turned off by traditional pencil-and-paper learning.

But only 37 per cent of parents of primary and intermediate school children said they could see their children’s schoolwork online.

Only 15 per cent have online access to their children’s attendance records, and only 13 per cent can access their assessment results.

The chair of the 20/20 Trust which promotes technology in schools, Laurence Millar, said parents needed to be involved in their children’s education to motivate the children to learn.

“Parental involvement in children’s learning is one of the major factors contributing to better achievement,” he said.

The Government has earmarked $211 million to build and run broadband fibre-optic connections to the country’s 2500 schools until 2021.

The NZ Council for Educational Research has surveyed 200 primary and intermediate schools and found that 92 per cent are using the internet to practise skills such as maths.

Eighty per cent are researching on the internet during class, 71 per cent are creating documents and 56 per cent are creating multimedia work.

Almost all teachers believe the internet has increased their students’ engagement in learning (91 per cent) and improved support for students with special learning needs (92 per cent).

At decile 3 Massey Primary School in West Auckland, principal Bruce Barnes said technology was “a very powerful tool to engage boys in writing”.

“I’ve had students here who have been challenged by ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] and very poorly behaved, yet you put them on a device and they settle down to work. Before, they were producing nothing,” he said.

“We have another boy who was very badly behaviourally challenged. He got on to Minecraft. He would engage and work through Minecraft. Before, he would just sit in the classroom and do nothing.”

Massey Primary is one of 31 per cent of primary and intermediate schools that have introduced “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies, encouraging parents to provide devices for all children including new entrants.

But Barnes said only 20 per cent of families actually bought devices for their children. The school provides devices for the other 80 per cent to use at school.

“We open up at 8am. The children can get access as soon as they come to school, they can go to the library or their classrooms,” he said.

Decile 5 Marshall Laing Primary School in Mt Roskill encourages children to bring their own devices from Year 3. Principal David White said the school helped any families who could not afford it.

“We have seen quite a significant decrease in the cost of a device. We can get Chromebooks for $230 to $270.”

He said children averaged two to three hours online in each six-hour school day, and shared their work with their parents.

“All our children have Google Drive. It’s a great format for sharing stuff with collaborators, so kids are doing that all the time,” he said.

“The parents have access to anything the kids are doing. The kids just need to invite them in by email and the parents can see stuff.

“We often do brainstorming stuff. The kids share it with their parents and parents are chipping into the lessons. They are very proud of sharing their work with their parents and often their grandparents.”

Meanwhile, a survey of 464 schools by the 20/20 Trust has found higher numbers with BYOD device policies – 44 per cent of primary schools and 69 per cent of secondary schools. But chairman Laurence Millar said schools making more use of technology may have been more likely than others to respond to his survey.

The trust estimates that 120,000 school-aged children in Year 4 or above, or 20 per cent of the age group, still do not have internet access at home.

Source: NZ Herald


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