If the Government thinks the biggest challenge in their rural broadband plans is getting fibre to rural schools, they have another surprise coming, says education consultant Charles Newton.
Newton is the manager of the EHSAS Nelson Datasmart Project and for the past five years he has been the chair of the award-winning Nelson Loop ultra-fast broadband ICT network for the regions schools.
Having been at the forefront of getting ultra-fast broadband into schools in the Nelson region, Newton says getting fibre to the school is only the first part of a huge equation.
Newton says education has changed from a book-based paradigm to an internet-based paradigm in the past decade and that we have entered an age where people have the right to internet access, especially students.
However, issues he has witnessed during his time with the Nelson Loop has lead him to believe that the government is only looking at the very first stages of the ultra-fast broadband equation.
Newton says the country won’t be able to achieve any significant progress towards a truly digital classroom environment without a number of resources – firstly, the infrastructure the government intends to roll out, but then on-going IT management costs and problem-solving, software requirements, training the teachers response for teaching the students how to make use of this technology plus a number of other issues.
These are problems the government will have to look at, but getting fibre to the schools is just the start of the puzzle, he says.