Schools and eteachers who have been learning with us from our first classes in 2009 have experienced the range of technical challenges including using the phone (polycom or speaker phone), power outages - snow days, floods, really bad telephone exchange, electric fence ticking, satellite dish misaligned or the connection cut by a weed eater! Internet so slow that some students just couldn't get on the same page. Yet for those last few years we have kept moving ahead with a lot of good will, resilience, and hope; working with what at times feels like No.8 wire technology.
This year is the first year that all of our schools are now on a fast (relatively for our rural schools) managed schools internet connection, most on N4L; and ironically it has also been the most challenging year to date to technically. The first half of the year was plagued with connectivity around skype conference calls, and no amount of technical trouble shooting, support from the Connected Learning Advisory or calls for help to MicrosoftNZ would help us isolate and resolve the problems. Adobe Connect didn't provide a quality audio solution so we decided we had to try something completely different. Every day that went by without resolution of our technical impasse was another day of lost learning for our children.
So we jumped to ZOOM!
Our trial became a very short one, as eteachers were so eager to make the switch, we had a lot of support from our providers ConnectNZ and Ginette was onto it in both the trial and implementation phases. We provide pro account users for all our eteachers so we can manage, monitor and support their online classes. So far so good - here are Ginette's recommendations. If you are interested in knowing more about the Zoom trial her full report is attached. Also attached - ConnectNZ full user guide and our eTeacher Zoom Quick guide.
"The platform is stable and offers all the best used features of Skype and Adobe Connect Classroom combined, in ONE simple and easy to implement system. The system is sophisticated enough that it will cater for the demands of our most efficient and digitally capable eTeachers, whilst affording an easy and flexible model for those not so confident with the technology.
Having used the system for a few weeks I am encouraged that this platform offers VLN Primary School a platform that will enable us to further develop the digital capabilities of our eTeaching team and our learners as the technology that we use for lesson delivery becomes an enabler and no longer a barrier."