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View Full Version : Broadband in all NZ schools?



26-05-2002, 06:07 PM
Okay, this isn't a problem as such (or is it?). In his budget speech on Thursday afternoon (yes, I DID watch it) Dr Michael Cullen mentioned that the Government is going to pay millions of dollars to get broadband into all NZ schools by the end of 2004.

I'm just interested in hearing peoples views on this, whether its necessary or not, who thinks its a good idea, who thinks its a waste of money, and whatever other opinions you may have.

Personally I think it is NOT necessary (it may be nice, and sure the schools would use it, but do they actually NEED it - is it essential to kids education?), and there are way more important things in education the money could have been put towards, eg Teachers pay dispute (that is STILL going on).

Now its time for your views.

Mike.

26-05-2002, 06:28 PM
To get broadband into all NZ schools, the government will first have to get broadband into all NZ areas.

Lets look at the West coast of the south Island as an example, the local exchanges, in Westport, Greymouth, and Hoki do not support ADSL. (Hoki doesn't even get faxability) Well theres a problem isn't it. Then again why should telecon fix it's own gear up, when the Govt is going to pay them millions to get rural lines up to scratch, and maybe now to get ADSL support installed as well. Would you fix something if you knew that if you didn't funding would appear to fix it for you?

I hope our govt doesn't do what it seems to always do and just throw $$ at telecon.
Anyone living in those areas will be aware that part of the South islands backbone of communication is a fibre optic cable that goes to CHCH via the arthers pass, Greymouth, and then north to somewhere around Nelson. It is just the local gear that is not up to speed, the superhighways run straight through atleast some of the place.
There are of course other alternatives, Walker wireless took advantage of telecons slackness, and have offered the first broadband service in Westport.

That makes it easy.

But apart from the technical difficultys, and the enevitable backhanders a certain starving telecomunications company is about to get, i think it is a good thing. A school has far too many people on it's network to be sharing a dial-up connection(s). Our children should be fully literate, and that includes computer literate.

26-05-2002, 06:31 PM
Hi Mike
My $.02 worth...

I read it, didnt watch it, (boy are you SAD, to want to watch that..) and understand that due to remote locations of many schools they will possibly use wireless....

Now, journalists may not use the right techhie talk, perhaps they mean satellite (which requires phone uplink) as the remote locations would mean wireless (as we know it) would be useless as well. Trunk radio had only a couple of kB bandwidth and ADSL would be out, as would cable. Private microwave also out.

As to if they should have it, quite frankly no, if it requires an unreasonable investment. As to why they want it, well I am involved professionally in an industry that (in some countries) has strategic influence exerted in key areas, a bit like lobbying, that manipulate desired outcomes. If you train the kids they must have broadband I assume a company somewhere may benefit longer term as the population forget about cheap dial-up...

Perhaps I am cynical??

TW

26-05-2002, 07:11 PM
I don't think broadband internet is required at all schools. I don't see the point in a primary school needing internet access for the pupils. Other than everyone huddled round one computer and finding some information on Google.

High schools. Well yes they do need broadband internet access. It's just shocking when there are 30 people sharing one ISDN line. But they need to have an ISP like WatchDog or similar.

At the College/HighSchool/Tech place that I am out. There is a WatchDog JetStream account. This provides enough speed for the 30+ people that are there. Apart from when WatchDog is being hit by another DoS attack, or *someone* is downloading some rather large files.

JM

26-05-2002, 07:47 PM
Mike knows I am pretty hot on all this, but here goes:

Like anything in a school, there is no point unless there is clear benefit to the kids and they use it properly.

Giving five year olds the ability to use Word XP is a waste of time. They can't read, let alone use a keyboard or type.

Is giving broadband to spotty teenagers (no offense intended, I used to be one and I was a shocker) really going to help their education? I can see them using to generate their own DoS attacks and downloading porn, movies, and pirated games.

I would say that spending money on broadband would be an excellent thing if they already have adequate computers, teacher pupil ratios, computer literate teachers (that aren't striking for better pay), and enough chalk for the black boards.

I don't believe that will be the case by 2004.

Frankly, it feels like a bit of big noting and name dropping and not much else (and I am being thoroughly apolitical, I don't care which party suggested it).

robo.

26-05-2002, 07:51 PM
Personally I think any excuse that makes the governement responsible for ensuring the whole country has decent access to real broadband is a good thing. I believe that broadband is required to allow what has started re. social interaction of the worlds population the room it needs to grow further and extend the power of the individual all the while building real social fabric concerned with the members of society and not vested power interests.

The way we communicate via the net nowadays is just the start of a social revolution destined to change our social structures as long as we continue to allow it to grow naturally. Our children have to have access to this to be a part of it and while we all understand initially there will not be a lot on offer we all must realise that once itsa in place some very clever people (teachers) are going to find better and better uses for it. The potential is amazing for cost savings if you use the technologies available right now to distribute information and lessons online.

I dislike the idea that Telecom may end up with the bulk of funding but somebody who knows what has to be done has to do it and the result is far more important than the fact some corporate structure will gouge the system in my opinion.

26-05-2002, 07:56 PM
There was an article re: computers in schools in one of last years' issues of PC World.

I think that computers in schools are given way too much emphasis, and the money could be better spent elsewhere. Throughout my entire schooling carrer - so far in my 15th consecutive year - the computing resources of the schools almost always exceeds that of the average business pc at the same time.

OK, I have gone predominantly to city schools, but when your school has 50 brand new iMacs three or so years after they bought a pile of performer 6400's and still had money left over for 6 new classrooms and an $8million pool complex including waterslide, two spas wave pool, sauna, steamroom, and olympic lane pool with movable floor, you begin to wonder why you have to pay for tertiary education. That $8million would definitely help the student loan problem.

Computers in schools are useful tools. I emphasize TOOLS - not replacements for teachers, sports, drama and other valuable parts of school.

Broadband should be provided where economical - not everywhere by default, especially if it encopurages our monopolistic telecommunications company to continue to provide NZ'ers with substandard services and products.

G P

26-05-2002, 07:59 PM
Robo
Dont hold back in such a reserved manner, tell us what you really think...

TW =:-^)

26-05-2002, 09:06 PM
Robo!
i never thought i would see anyone with a less faith in our youth than myself...but i must defend!
I have been watching what young people learn when granted computer access, This was partly a by-product of having a small home network in my home for me, my 7 flatmates, and thier often quite young friends. A mere 3 or 4 years later, i find some of those kids are now doing jobs using thier limited computer skills. These skills begun here while finding stupid smutty chatrooms and the like.
One, now but 21, is doing the layout for a magazine, and already earning resonable $$ for doing it.

Like everything else, we can only get what we make of a situation, and if all people are going to want to do with thier lives is download porn/games, then sadly so be it. Others are going to want to go further, and absolute knowledge and familiarity with computers is already important in both the social and work world. Computer literacy will become essentual for anyone wanting to do anything more demanding than street cleaning or picking up the trundlers at the local supermarket.
For that reason i want to see our schools have broadband, knowing full well that it will be abused in the way that you say.

Many are going to be annoying brats anyway, but atleast this way they will learn something that will later be useful.

27-05-2002, 10:09 AM
Chris,

I'll just clarify a few things. The budget stated that they aimed to have broadband in urban schools by the end of 2003, and in rural schools by 2004, so obviously they've considered the implications of this policy. I do also believe that the major ISPs have already got plans in place to supply broadband (which doesn't necessarily have to be ADSL/Jetstream) to rural areas.

Now to comment on your post - you say that our children need to be computer literate. Do you honestly believe that children are learning to be computer literate at school? I don't think so; I think they are learning at home/friends places. Having worked in schools re. internet access through networks etc. access is never a problem unless BIG files are being downloaded. And these big files aren't necessary, and are usually not allowed to be downloaded anyway, as they have nothing to do with their school work. I mean, what do the kids actually NEED the internet for at school?

Mike.

27-05-2002, 05:56 PM
Yes!! Totally! Demystify IT as completely as possible & perhaps things will work right for a change! Don't get me wrong - IT pays my bills, but it's not magic, it's about the same as being a reasonable plumber - if more kids (& adults) think of it like that, then perhaps they'll progress through the coming age with a degree of confidence & skill way beyond that of their parents and (dare I say it) teachers.
Future up & coming generations matter more than the existing one<s>, so try & give them as much of a boost as possible now, while U can!

27-05-2002, 09:23 PM
Chris,

Before leaping into print, please at least get your facts right. Greymouth has had ADSL for some time, Hokitika gets it next month, but Westport already has another provider which diminishes its appeal to us. Telecom already has DSL enabled much of rural Otago and Northland, and several other regions will be done this year. This work was undertaken with the specific goal of providing broadband access to schools, and has been received very favourably.
There is no doubt that the governmental funding for this type of work will be useful, whether it goes to Telecom or any of the other suppliers who have emerged in the past week now that a potential gravy train has been announced. The fact remains that the setup is not cheap (tens of millions) and even the biggest organisations have reservations about spending that sort of money without some return.

Steve Eckett
DSL Planning TNZL

ps That rather expensive fibre cable is itching to do more work. I am open to any offers for new business.

28-05-2002, 01:41 PM
I live in suburban auckland, and we cannot get DSL yet remote towns of a few thousand can get it! our school is in an area that can get it, although all we have is a crappy watchdog connection... try 60 odd students trying to do research on a shared single line ISDN connection! try reading my article on dsl at http://www.vectorstar.net/~porsche/rant/telecomnz/index.html as it will amaze you... prehaps. blah!! grr!!

28-05-2002, 06:45 PM
We all know how fast this industry moves. Dial-up may be fast enough now, but in a couple of years? Not a chance.
My only gripe would be that more than half the teachers don't know how to use a computer properly themselves. My step-daughter knows more about using a PC/Mac than her text-management teacher and usually ends up semi-teaching the class. How can that be right? Give those teachers some decent training!!!