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Overview

The Government has committed $211 million to fund schools in the Network for Learning (N4L) Managed Network, which has been designed specifically for schools to provide safe, predictable, and fast Internet with uncapped data, online content filtering, and network security services.

The Managed Network runs over fibre and will be capable of connecting more than 800,000 students, educators, and school administrators across the country. Find out more about the N4L Managed Network and how learning with digital technologies will impact your school below.

Network for Learning logo

Crown-owned company Network for Learning (N4L) is rolling out a managed network designed specifically for New Zealand schools.

The Managed Network connects schools together via a secure data network, offering higher levels of service quality and support than has been available previously. The Managed Network will also enable schools fast access to the Internet and more predictable connections than most schools are using now.

The network will runs over the best mix of ultra-fast, rural, and remote broadband available in New Zealand.

It is a centrally managed, meaning schools will no longer need to support their own Internet connection. This will help reduce related ICT complexity and costs. Schools will be funded for an N4L package that includes access to the Managed Network – providing quality fast connections, uncapped data, online content filtering, and network security services.

Access more information about the N4L Managed Network on the N4L website.

N4L has also developed a portal as a hub for digital learning and the foundation of an N4L community. Visit the N4L website to find out more about Pond (the N4L portal).

N4L and the Ministry of Education are working together to ensure schools are well supported to take advantage of the Managed Network and of the support for learning with digital technologies.

N4L can provide advice and support regarding company services and the progress of the Managed Network.

The Ministry provides wider support around strategy and planning for e-learning, support for the use of digital technology for learning, and ICT in schools.

Contact us »  

Through using digital technologies over the N4L Managed Network, students will have access to a wide range of quality teaching and learning resources that can enhance their learning and engagement.

Digital technologies:

  • allow students to learn, create, share, and collaborate anywhere, at any time (rather than being tied to a certain place or time)
  • open up a new world of resources for students, providing much more knowledge than any one teacher or school library could hope to
  • enable students to personalise their learning experience (recognising every student's strengths, talents, and needs, building on their identity, language, and culture)
  • help build on students’ prior and current knowledge, needs, and interests (many of today’s students are already used to engaging with digital technologies)
  • encourage greater collaboration between students, teachers, and school leaders around New Zealand and support teachers to engage in blended, personalised professional, and peer collaboration.

All of these factors add up to more students being present to learn in the classroom and beyond – engaged, enjoying learning, and achieving better results. See examples from real schools below.

Nayland Primary School staff describe how e-learning is part of everyday learning across the curriculum in every classroom.

The three schools making up Waimea Campus collaborated to install ultra-fast broadband, purchase services, and share resources. Benefits include the purchasing of e-books, enabling greater anytime access, and an increase in the number of boys reading.

Sarah Kennedy, from Waimea school, describes how new technologies are making a real difference in teaching students with special learning needs.

Value for schools

The Government is committed to ensuring that all students have access to the opportunities provided by digital technologies. Currently, not all schools can access a consistent, high-quality, Internet connection. The Government funded N4L Managed Network will ensure there is:

  • uncapped data limits – no quotas to exceed
  • no invoices to pay as the Government has funded the Ministry for the base package
  • infrastructure robust enough to handle the growing demand from bring your own device (BYOD) and other mobile technologies
  • quality of service:
    • reliable, predictable performance, and guaranteed bandwidth for critical applications – for example high-definition video conferencing
    • no reduction in speed.

The N4L base package

The N4L Managed Network will provide schools with a Ministry funded base connection package. Schools will not be invoiced for this. However, if schools wish to purchase additional products or services from N4L they will be billed accordingly.

The N4L base package offered by the Ministry includes:

  • connectivity speed in megabits per second (Mbps)
  • uncapped data (N4L does not place any limits on the amount of data that can be uploaded or downloaded but a fair use policy will apply)
  • router, including firewall (firewall is optional but highly recommended)
  • content and email filtering (optional but highly recommended)
  • spam filtering
  • remote access to school’s internal network for students and teachers (optional)
  • network performance monitoring and support
  • predictable access in terms of fast speed and reliability.

The N4L Managed Network will ensure more equitable access to digital technologies for all schools and students, regardless of their location or financial situation. When combined with the state-funded access to fibre, school network upgrades, and a managed network with uncapped data by the end of 2016, this provides a sound digital infrastructure for schools and students.

Benefits of a fibre connection

Getting an Internet connection delivered via fibre has a number of advantages over asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL). It should:

  • be up to 20 times faster for rural schools because ADSL slows down as your distance from the exchange increases 
  • allow full speed uploads without the traffic shaping employed on ADSL lower latency – or time delay – making time sensitive applications, like video conferencing or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) work better 
  • have fewer errors, which also means less data needing to be retransmitted. 

Connecting to fibre will allow schools to consider a range of options that were not practical or possible using ADSL, such as:

  • putting bring your own device (BYOD) and other mobile devices policies in place as the investment in infrastructure will allow schools to cope with this growing demand
  • moving a range of services and servers to the cloud off-site back-ups
  • VoIP telephone systems
  • video conferencing generally, and high definition (HD) video conferencing in particular.

More information from N4L

  • N4L Managed Network FAQs
  • Almost all schools have now registered their interest in connecting to the N4L Managed Network. If you have any questions about connecting your school, contact N4L on 0800 LEARNING.

N4L started connecting the first schools in November 2013, and more than 1000 schools were connected at the end of 2014. All schools will be able to connect to the Managed Network by the end of 2016. Registering your school is the first step in getting connected. N4L will then contact you directly and once your school signs an agreement to connect, N4L expects you will generally be on the Managed Network within 6-12 weeks.

Schools involved in the National Education Network (NEN) trial were contacted separately to discuss their options for transition to the Managed Network.

The N4LManaged Network package is fully-funded for state, state-integrated, and partnership schools and will be available at a cost to independent schools. While the vast majority of schools will connect to N4L’s Managed Network via fibre, the remaining remote schools will connect via wireless or satellite technology. Speed and performance for each school will be determined by the type of connection available to that school.

More information from N4L

N4L has developed a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions covering both technical and general issues.

Once connected, all schools will immediately have access to the Government funded Managed Network that offers affordable, safe, predictable, ultra-fast Internet connectivity with uncapped data. The impact on individual schools once connected will vary depending on the stage the school is at. Schools that have not previously had access to a fibre connection will notice the most immediate difference. Assuming that the school’s internal network is well maintained and learners have access to web-capable devices, it will be easier to:

  • manage video-conferencing
  • collaborate remotely with other students
  • download and livestream content
  • upload and share content, including video and similar large-file formats
  • have more learners connecting online at the same time.

Staff at St Hilda's Collegiate School talk about the difference that ultra-fast broadband has made to teaching and learning. 

After the school has signed the agreement to be connected to theManaged Network, N4L will be in contact to discuss the specific requirements.

Impacts on students, staff, boards, and wider school communities

While digital technologies provide many exciting opportunities for teaching and learning, it is important to consider how schools can support all members of their school community to enjoy these opportunities.

Students

Through using digital technologies over the N4L Managed Network, students will have access to a wide range of quality teaching and learning resources that can enhance their learning and engagement. While many students will be familiar with digital technologies, teachers are critical in supporting students and ensuring learning opportunities are tailored to students' individual needs and interests, improving engagement and achievement.

Staff

Once connected, schools can begin to focus on developing the school community's ability to integrate technologies meaningfully into a student-focused curriculum. School leaders have a critical role to play as active leaders for digital learning in the school community, and teachers may need support to feel capable and confident to use digital technology to enhance learning.

The Enabling e-Learning website provides information on the many resources offered by the Ministry of Education to support educators to embrace digital learning including: 

Staff at St Hilda's Collegiate talk about the difference using technology has made to teaching and learning.

Boards

Schools boards will need to consider whether their school should connect to the N4L Managed Network (see the School management considerations section on this page). They will also need to review or establish strategy and development plans (for example, equipment leases and the replacement of old hardware and software), ICT policies such as cyber-safety, BYOD, information security, privacy, and other guidance material. The Ministry of Education and NetSafe have various resources which help schools to do this.

Wider school community

It is important to engage your wider school community, including whānau and iwi, in the development of your e-learning vision discussing the impacts of digital learning. Digital technologies can provide greater opportunities to engage with your community online on a regular basis but it may also raise questions for some parents, for instance around cyber-safety. There may also be the opportunity, particularly for schools in rural areas, to become community digital hubs.

The Ministry has developed a process, guidelines, and information to help schools and their boards understand what becoming a community digital hub is all about and what schools need to do, if they wish to consider this option.

Find information about connecting with your community in the Beyond the classroom section of Enabling e-Learning.

While N4L will initially prioritise the connection of state, state-integrated and partnership schools and independent schools will not receive Government funding for connections, all schools will be invited to connect to the N4L Managed Network by the end of 2016.

Therefore, school boards and sponsors need to understand the benefits of a managed network as they consider whether their school should connect to the N4L Managed Network. School boards are also responsible for ensuring an appropriate level of internet safety and security and that policies and procedures are in place to guide staff and students in this area. Schools may also want to review whether their school’s current ICT infrastructure (including hardware and software) are suitable for learning with digital technologies.

The Ministry of Education and NetSafe have various resources to help school boards.

School boards can also contact the New Zealand School Trustees Association for advice and support.

The Government provides funding to help schools provide a safe and secure online environment for students and teachers.

N4L offers optional content filtering and firewall services as a core part of their Managed Network package to help schools create a safe online environment for their students.

Schools connected to the Managed Network will progressively move off their Ministry funded WatchDog, SchoolZone or Websense services as the N4L content filtering and firewall offerings cover their needs.

Some schools may also choose to enhance filtering and firewall measures by purchasing additional services from other providers at their own cost.

No content filtering solution or firewall can guarantee full protection. Schools need to consider additional measures such as digital citizenship and cyber-safety programmes.

Individual school boards are responsible for ensuring an appropriate level of safety and security is in place for their individual school. The Ministry and Netsafe provide information and resources to support schools to do this.

More information

  • Digital citizenship and cyber-safety in schools
  • NetSafe – information to promote confident, safe, and responsible use of online technologies
  • Schools connected to the N4L Managed Network can call the N4L helpdesk on 0800 LEARNING for more information about N4L filtering and firewall services
  • Schools can also contact the Ministry of Education’s ICT Helpdesk on 0800 225542 for information about Ministry funded content and filtering and Netsafe services

How does the N4L Managed Network align with other Government ICT investments in education?

The following diagram provides an overview of the Government investments in infrastructure, hardware and support for the N4L Managed Network, how they relate to other initiatives, and how it contributes to improved outcomes for learners.

View larger version of diagram

School vision and goals

You can make the most of your N4L Managed Network connection by making sure your school has a vision and goals that support learning with digital technologies.

Ideally, school leaders, the Board of Trustees, teachers, students, and the wider community (including whānau and iwi) will be a part of your planning process. However, effective leadership is critical to implement effective e-learning practice in your school.

Dr Cheryl Doig, director of Think Beyond Limited, talks about the importance of having a shared language and understanding of what e-learning is before integrating it into the school vision.

e-Learning Planning Framework

Many schools have started the planning process by conducting a whole school review to inform a strategic plan using the e-Learning Planning Framework.

The framework provides schools and teachers with:

  • a self-review tool for schools to gather evidence about practice
  • a 'road map' for building e-learning capability
  • a tool to evaluate the effectiveness of e-learning programmes
  • resources and services to support schools as they build capability.

The eLPF is accessible both as an online tool and as a hardcopy. Decide which is the best tool for your school. Access the eLPF tools »

Brian Price, Principal of Breens Intermediate, describes how they used the e-Learning Planning Framework to develop their strategic planning, with a focus on improving literacy levels for their Māori students.

e-Learning Planning Framework
In this EDtalk, Karen Melhuish of CORE Education explains the elements of the framework, how it can be used, and where you can get support. 

Building a modern learning environment

As schools extend use of technology, it may provide the opportunity to redesign classrooms and reconfigure school layout to better support technology use.

The Flexible learning spaces in schools section of the Ministry of Education's website provides information and readings on designing and developing modern learning environments that facilitate a variety of approaches to teaching and learning.

There is also a section about Property on the Ministry of Education website that contains useful resources for Boards to make property and infrastructure decisions.

More information

The Ministry of Education’s Enabling e-Learning website is your hub for information on planning for digital learning, including:

The Ministry of Education’s School Network Upgrade Project (SNUP) upgrades internal school ICT networks and is continuing alongside the rollout of the N4L Managed Network. SNUP, which since mid 2013 has the option of wireless connectivity, will be completed by 2016. SNUP optimises the performance of fibre connections and should be completed ahead of connecting to the N4L Managed Network.

The following guidance is provided to schools regarding the infrastructure needed to connect to the N4L Managed Network.

Schools should provide:

  • all of their own internal network (wired/wireless)
  • their own network directory, which holds details of all the users on the network
  • a fibre connection
  • server.

N4L router

Schools do not need to provide a router. This is provided by N4L. There will be two ways that schools can use the N4L-provided router:

  • WAN (Wide Area Network) only
  • WAN + LAN (Local Area Network).

Wide area network (WAN) only

When configured like this, the N4L router will provide a clear demarcation point between the national N4L network and the school’s internal network. All data entering and leaving the school will do so via this device, but the school’s internal network will run on entirely separate devices.

Schools will need to provide:

  • firewall
  • dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) server
  • internal wired network
  • internal wireless network
  • any servers and associated storage, backup, and UPS required on site.

Combination of wide area network (WAN) and local area network (LAN)

In this case, in addition to the WAN functionality described above, the N4L router will also act as part of the local network. The N4L engineers will configure it to provide/allow local services such as DHCPVLANs, firewall, and static routes.

Schools will need to provide:

  • internal wired network
  • internal wireless network
  • any servers and associated storage, backup, and UPS required on site.

Throughout the establishment period, schools will continue to have the option to use their existing operations grant to purchase other network services.

See the diagram below for a representation of a combination of LAN and WAN networks:

WAN = LAN scheme

(Image source: LAN WAN scheme, Wikimedia Commons)

Web filtering

N4L have a series of training webinars on web filtering. These are recorded and can be accessed from the Pond for replaying.

Both the Ministry of Education and N4L want to see digital technologies used to enrich learning and lift student achievement.   

Network for Learning (N4L)

Network for Learning logo

N4L is a Crown-owned company set up to develop and operate the N4L Managed Network for schools and to provide access to a range of learning resources and services. A joint management group exists to maintain the relationship and ensure the delivery of the N4L Managed Network and other services that meet the needs of schools. The Ministry has not been involved in selecting particular schools to be connected but it supports N4L in the selection process.

N4L provides the technical support to transition across to the Network for Learning.

Ministry of Education

Ministry of Education

The Ministry provides a broader range of support to enable schools to make the most of learning with digital technologies, whether or not you are connected to the N4L Managed Network. The Ministry is working to ensure schools are well placed to take advantage of learning with digital technologies by reviewing their strategic planning and curriculum and promoting access to Ministry resources like the Enabling e-Learning website. 

More information

Connection savings

The Government has committed $211 million until 2020-21 to fund schools in the N4L and to fund schools’ connectivity to it. Therefore, connection costs for the N4L Managed Network are fully funded for state, state-integrated, and partnership schools. This means there is no set up cost to connect to the N4L Managed Network, and your monthly bill for your N4L package will be funded by the Government, through the Ministry of Education.

State, state-integrated, and partnership schools will be funded for a package that includes access to the N4L Managed Network, providing fast connections, uncapped data, online content filtering, and network security services. The Managed Network will be available at a cost to independent schools.

Other potential savings

  • Data, online content filtering, and network security services are provided to schools at no charge as part of the N4L Managed Network package.
  • A router is provided at no cost to the school.
  • An approved IT-support company can provide assistance to manage the transition to the N4L Managed Network if the school does not have sufficient in-house capability themselves. N4L will pay for transition services to be undertaken by a panel of approved IT support companies around the country. N4L will not reimburse a school for a staff member doing the work for connecting their school to the Managed Network.

Other potential costs

Technical considerations

If you have any questions about connecting your school, contact N4L on 0800 LEARNING.

Strategic considerations

Schools may wish to review their current strategic plan and curriculum in terms of how digital technologies are used for learning. Discussion, review, and planning with school boards and staff can begin. This might involve a review of e-learning capability.

Internet safety and security

The N4L Managed Network will provide schools with secure and safe access to the Internet. However, it should be noted that no content filtering solution or firewall can guarantee full protection. Therefore, schools also need to consider additional measures such as digital citizenship and cyber-safety programmes.

Each school needs to decide how to develop and manage their cyber-safety policy, security and maintenance programmes, and how to ensure cyber-safety and security for students, staff, and community.

Wifi safety in schools

Since June 2013, the Ministry has offered schools a wireless network (WiFi) option via the School Network Upgrade Project (SNUP). As schools adopt mobile technologies and implement 1:1 device policies including BYOD, WiFi networks are essential to support the integration of digital technologies into learning and teaching.

The Ministry of Health recently affirmed its position that there is no health risk to staff or students from exposure to radioactive fields from WiFi equipment in the area where it is used.

As the health and safety of children in our schools is critical, the Ministry of Education will continue to work with the Ministry of Health to monitor and respond to any changes in New Zealand standards, international standards and credible research on WiFi and radio frequency electromagnetic fields, as it becomes available.

More information

Software for learning

The Software for learning section of the Enabling e-Learning website is provides information and support for teachers selecting and planning for the use of tools and technologies to raise student learning outcomes.

e-Learning planning and professional development

  • The e-Learning Planning Framework, is designed to support you, and your school, in assessing and developing e-capability.
  • The Professional learning section has other supporting information and professional development resources.
  • Personalised learning allows students to take control of their own learning. Each akonga (learner) is unique and learns in different ways.

Existing software and devices

The N4L Managed Network will work with your existing digital devices and software to connect students and teachers to the Internet. However, given the quality access and uncapped data provided by the network, your school may want to consider moving to mobile (or 1-1) devices if you have not already done so.

The TELA laptops and software provided through the Ministry of Education will be compatible with the N4L Managed Network.

Bring your own device (BYOD)

Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to technology models where students and staff bring a personally-owned device to school for the purpose of learning. These can include mobile devices such as laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, e-book readers, and MP3 players.

BYOD/mobile technologies have the potential to expand and enhance interaction in the classroom, enable more real-world activities, improve learning environments, and engage students in new and exciting ways.

See the BYOD/mobile technologies page for guidelines and information to consider before introducing a BYOD policy for students in your school.

Moving to mobile devices

Before making decisions about purchasing devices, many schools have used the e-Learning Planning Framework in conducting a whole-school review of e-learning to inform their strategic plan. This helps ensure that decision-making around technologies is driven by learning priorities.

Schools should carry out a comprehensive consultation process with their wider school community to ensure the introduction of BYOD/mobile technologies is well understood and the benefits realised. Each school’s vision for their students, which is grounded in the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, will be the driving rationale.

Increasingly, many schools are moving away from desktop computers towards mobile devices. This is a natural extension of fast connections enabled via a managed wireless network. Mobile devices are easy to move around, allowing the device to go to the student rather than the student needing to move to the device, and can easily be locked out of sight or taken home at the end of the day.

There may be several reasons why you would want to explore these initiatives in your school. An over-arching purpose, however, will be the way in which increased access to a personal device can enable inclusive and more personalised learning pathways, and lifting student achievement through the curriculum.

 St Hilda's Collegiate are in their third year of introducing 1-1 laptops. Staff members explain the process they went through to select MacBook Pros as the 1-1 device they are currently using. 

More information

  • Laptops for teachers and principals through the TELA scheme (information about the TELA laptop leasing scheme, TELA support, and research into the impact of laptops for teachers)
  • Software for schools (providing funding for core software packages for schools, for example, operating systems, security and filtering software, e-portfolio tools, and student management systems)
  • BYOD/mobile technologies (information, research and school stories to support schools as they move into mobile technologies for learners)
  • Media gallery (school stories related to technologies in schools)

ICT infrastructure

While each school makes different choices regarding the best way to adapt its infrastructure and technologies to its local curriculum and community, there are some decisions that you might consider as you prepare to connect to N4L Managed Network.

Principal, Jane Danielson shares the thinking that went into planning their technological infrastructure at Hingaia Penninsula School.

Desktop to mobile

Increasingly schools are moving away from desktop computers towards more mobile (or 1-1) devices. This is a natural extension of fast connections enabled via a managed wireless network. Mobile devices are easy to move around, allow the device to go to the learner rather than the learner needing to move to the device, and can easily be locked out of sight at the end of the day or go home with the learner.

Systems manager, Alistair Montgomerie describes the infrastructure set up at St Hilda's Collegiate School. It enables all students and staff to use the Internet as part of their 1-1 laptops programme. He explains their wireless network upgrade and why they needed ultra-fast broadband.

Wireless networks

For many schools, having a fibre connection will be a step towards increasing the number of portable devices. Your internal managed wireless network makes it easier to support large numbers of mobile users. The management interface will allow you to make changes to all of your wireless access points at once, broadcast multiple wireless local area network (staff, student, guest, and so on), and to monitor usage patterns. Managed equipment is capable of greater density of users in any one space.

Cloud-based services

Moving to cloud-based services has many advantages for schools. Once connected, schools may wish to maximise the benefits of the network to use such services. As long as your connection can support them, you can investigate using some services to the cloud before you get a fibre connection.

Establishing a back-up of all critical data

This is always important, but particularly if you are delaying the replacement of an ageing server until you have a fibre connection to allow more cloud-based services. Make sure that data on your server is well backed up (on and off site) so that you can recover it quickly if the hardware fails.

More information

The framework enables schools to identify where they are in terms of e-learning capability, and plan their next step. Phases of the eLPF describe pedagogical development and technology integration. Find out more»

N4L is working to ensure the transition process is as simple as possible for schools. After a school registers their interest, N4L will in get touch to request further information and finally to go through an agreement to connect. Once an agreement is signed, a school can expect to get connected in 6-12 weeks’ time (these are estimated timeframes and may vary). N4L aims to work with your school to ensure downtime is kept to a minimum. For example, your school may prefer to schedule the transition outside of school hours.

Mount Aspiring College: Network for Learning – The journey begins
Read Mt Aspiring's blog describing their experience connecting to the Network for Learning.

School relationship with IT providers

N4L is partnering with a number of  IT support companies across New Zealand to assist schools with their transition to the Managed Network.

If schools choose to use an N4L-approved IT support company, their transition will be fully funded by the Ministry of Education. This includes schools that are currently contracting the services of one of these approved companies. Schools may however choose to use alternative IT support companies at the school’s own expense.

For schools using ICT providers for services other than the Managed Network, for example server maintenance, data management, hardware/software purchases, and configuration, schools will continue to fund these purchases.

Schools may also choose to use alternative software products to those provided with the N4L base package. However, this will be at the school’s own expense.

More information

  • N4L Managed Network FAQs
  • Almost all schools have now registered their interest in connecting to the N4L Managed Network. If you have any questions about connecting your school, contact N4L on 0800 LEARNING.

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