Network for Learning (N4L) is now open to all educators and administrative staff in New Zealand schools, with some new features making it even easier for teachers to share resources. The new features of the digital learning hub were revealed to over 2000 attendees at the ULearn conference in Rotorua.
Chris South, N4L's Head of Dynamic Services and responsible for Pond's development, says that teachers requested the ability to group items into related topics.
“From today, they can now bundle resources into ‘buckets’, and other teachers can easily view and share these buckets within Pond. We wanted to make it easier for teachers to see what their colleagues in other schools find interesting and useful for student learning and their own professional development,” he said.
Pond users are now able to bookmark items using the new feature 'Ka Pai', the Maori name for good. They can also use 'Ponder this' to save items into Pond via a Chrome web browser. Another feature is that teachers are able to upload documents directly to Pond.
The 'Make A Splash' programme is also now available, with over 75 schools representing around 2000 teachers signed up to join the 1500 teachers already using Pond.
N4L's Managed Network and Pond (accessed from any internet connection) are both running ahead of schedule. The company's year-end target of having all teachers with access to Pond has been met a couple of months early. There are now 928 schools connected to the Managed Network.
Steve Hornby, a primary school teacher from Masterton's Solway School, says that Pond prompts consideration of alternative education resources that might not have otherwise been thought of.
"If a colleague teaching the same subject in another school has found an online programme that has helped get their students excited about a topic, then our teachers can see this in Pond and review the programme knowing that their peers have used it and liked it. It tells us that that resource is worth investigating for our own use.”
Trudi Browne, a primary school teacher who is introducing Pond to Christchurch's Burnside primary school teachers, says the response to Pond has been really positive.
“Our teachers are enjoying following the teacher profiles of their colleagues in other schools. The search engine is also proving popular as it allows us to go deep into the archives of Digital NZ and search video clips that are hard to find on regular search engines. Pond’s search returns the more educationally useful material to the top of the list and this saves us time having to go look for them.”