Teachers and administrative staff in New Zealand schools can now access Pond, the digital learning hub designed by Crown-company Network for Learning (N4L).
When teachers return from school holidays next week, they can take part in N4L’s new ‘Make a Splash’ programme designed to help them make the most of Pond, N4L says in a statement.
More than 75 schools representing around 2000 teachers have already signed up to be part of the program, and they will join the 1500 teachers already inside Pond.
N4L demonstrated several of the features of Pond to more than 2000 attendees of the ULearn teachers' conference this week in Rotorua.
“Teachers have told us they want the ability to group items into related topics,” says Chris South, N4L’s head of dynamic services, responsible for Pond’s development.
“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.”
Other new features include the ability to bookmark items (called ‘Ka Pai’, the Maori name for ‘good’) and a new ‘Ponder this ...’ tool allowing teachers to save items into Pond via a Chrome web browser (by clicking on a Pond icon on the browser’s toolbar). Teachers can now also upload documents directly to Pond.
Both the rollout of N4L’s Pond and Managed Network are running are ahead of schedule, with the company surpassing its end-year target of giving all teachers access to Pond a couple of of months early, N4L says in a statement.
The Managed Network surpassed its 700th connection nearly five months ahead of schedule, with 928 schools connected to date. A connection to N4L’s Managed Network is not required to use Pond, which can be accessed with any internet connection.
“Pond prompts us to a consider alternative education resources that we may not have otherwise known about,” says Steve Hornby, a primary school teacher from Solway School in Masterton. “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.”
Primary school teacher Trudi Browne, who is introducing Pond to Burnside primary school teachers in Christchurch, says the response to the portal has been 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.”