by Darren Sudlow

NetNZ welcomes new government

Let's keep our eye to the future 

NetNZ congratulates the incoming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and welcomes the new Labour-led coalition government.

We look forward to working with incoming Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins and his associates, Tracey Martin, Jenny Salesa and Kelvin Davis and believe we share a common vision for education in New Zealand.

NetNZ believes in the fundamental importance of public education and its place in building and sustaining local communities. The latter was a key driver in the emergence of the original eLearning clusters in the 1990s and early 2000s and the eventual spread of a nationwide network of schools committed to meeting the needs of every learner, no matter where or when they were learning. These clusters were the original communities of schools, formed out of a common need and vision for learning, and acting in the true spirit of collaboration. In essence, a ‘connected’ approach to schooling that looks well beyond schools as silos.

NetNZ was formed in 2013 to explore how we could further ensure a sustainable future for online learning both within our own schools, and beyond. We want to help shape a future in which online learning is normalised and where a ‘connected’ schooling system is an integral part of the future of education in this country and beyond. Schools operating as silos is neither sustainable nor does it recognise the significant transformational role technology is having on our world. Whether seeking solutions to teacher shortages, engaging students and schools in Digital Technologies|Hangarau Matihiko, or embedding Te Reo Māori as fundamental knowledge for any New Zealander; it is vital we look beyond conventional solutions to complex problems.

Late in 2016, NetNZ wrote a press release welcoming the proposed regulatory framework for online learning, and the provision of Communities of Online Learning (Cools). We felt it had the potential to build a more equitable environment in which “The future norm will enable learners to interact with a range of education providers while being based at a single physical school.” We also recognised the dangers elements of the legislation presented public education, especially in the form of those wanting to use education for profit rather than the public good.

NetNZ looks forward to working with the incoming government on a vision for the future of education in this country that not only places a high value on public education, but also ensures we remain future focused. It is important that we realise a future in which every learner has equitable access to learning and is fully prepared for the world they live in. The future requires a ‘connected’ education system which supports and sustains local communities, where educational provision is shared across schools and organisations, and in which we fully realise the potential of a technology enabled world.