Ultra-fast, fibre-based networks have been supporting education in many parts of the world for a number of years already – and finally schools and education institutions in New Zealand will be able to experience the benefits of being connected to such a network.
The development of local 'urban fibre networks' that provide fibre based, high speed broadband connectivity to the internet and other online services has been started in many parts of the country, and recent Government funding announcements mean that this is now likely to accelerate – and schools are a primary target. This work includes the development of a National Education Network as a backbone across the whole of NZ.
Schools are realising that using fibre loops the connection between them is very fast and can be used for a great variety of educational and administrative purposes. But fibre speeds offer much more than simply "faster internet" connectivity.
These networks will allow the growth in much of what is currently happening in the virtual learning space (with schools sharing classes and teachers via video conferencing), and create the opportunity for schools to collaborate over the use of shared services, such as student management systems, learning management systems and library management systems for example.
High speed fibre networks create the infrastructure required to fully benefit from the idea of cloud computing – providing access speed that provide the end user with an experience similar to what they'd have when accessing data from their own hard-drive or a servier within the school or organisation.