Opoutere School: small, but beautifully connected

Computerworld Excellence Awards: Excellence in the use of IT in Education (Primary and Secondary) finalist

Opoutere School is a small rural school which hopes to foster a life-long love of learning with the help of the Kopu Digital Opportunities Project.

One of a cluster of such schools in the Thames/Coromandel area that together make up the project, the school is using information and communication technologies to help create a “learning” atmosphere, using inquiry-based learning. A range of ICTs support this — for example, wireless laptops, interactive whiteboards, data projectors and KnowledgeNet, an online learning environment.

The project also changes the teacher’s role from being a source of knowledge to being a facilitator who guides students through a process of finding and analysing appropriate knowledge resources.

Fast, filtered internet and the KnowledgeNet, accessed via wireless laptops, allow the teachers to model and demonstrate using the interactive whiteboards. The children can then work independently to gain more information.

Parents with computer access are being encouraged to become more involved in their children’s education, by logging on to KnowledgeNet at home or at work to see what their children have been learning.

Inquiry-based learning makes students more motivated, says the school. And teachers see improvements in school work getting completed too, as it can be done anywhere, anytime.

Parents can also take a more active role in respect to their child’s work, which enables teachers, students and parents to work more closely together.

The adoption of technology has also helped reduce the feeling of isolation that can overshadow small, rural primary schools.

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