KAREN » NEN Evaluation Project
Kristin SchoolAlbany Highway, Albany
Kristin is an independent co-educational school of about 1400 students, from NE to year 13, on Auckland's North Shore. Established in 1973 Kristin School is a recognised leader, nationally and internationally, in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), to improve the learning and teaching processes at all levels of the school. In 1996, they were the first school to introduce the use of laptop computers to all students at Year 7.
Kristin students participated in the first New Zealand Schools High Definition Video Conference Music lesson and performance with Canterbury University and Christ's College in Christchurch. The project titled “musicGrid”, was initiated by Merryn Dunmill of the Music Education Research Centre at Canterbury University. It involved two students from both Kristin School and Christ's College receiving a lesson from Mark Walton, Director of the Christchurch School of Music. Following the lesson, despite their different locations, they were able to play an ensemble together.
Staff and students at Kristin also enjoyed the benefits of using a variety of the Google applications over the advanced network. A Junior School teacher used Google Earth as a part of an Ancient Civilisations study, while other teachers used Google Docs for collaborative work among whole classes at a time. Using Google earth, some of the more adventurous students were able to use the Google Simulator to 'fly' into the environment of Darfur they were studying.
Students participating in the online music lesson saw many benefits from the experience. The two students from each school; Antoni Tisot and Jonathan Sampson from Kristin and Justin Standring and Danny Lee from Christ's College were understandably impressed with the experience.
The video conference was far greater than I anticipated. It was amazing how effective it was. Despite using technology, a personal connection with the tutor was easy and the quality was not taken out of the lesson at all. The tutor was able to not only accurately scrutinize articulation, but even the tone of my playing. It's really exciting to see the development of such technology which will allow for students to have direct access to tutors from anywhere in the world, said Antoni
Today's live communication was eye opening in that it showed the possibility of communication with people who we would never meet otherwise. The sharing and comparison of assignments or work, for any subject, is now possible. This could prove useful in improving the quality of our work, said Jonathan.
Staff at Kristin are enthusiastic about the benefits of using KAREN, both in terms of the speed advantages that are offered to enable participation in HD video conferencing, and in the capacity advantages of being able to involve large numbers of simultaneous users.
The benefits of connecting to KAREN are immense; students and staff can reach the resources of universities in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States; show maps and satellite footage to Geography classes using Google Maps; and collaborate via high definition video conferences with other students around the world, says Jason MacDonald, Director of ICT Services at Kristin.
The ICTS team at Kristin believe that the musicGrid project is a perfect exemplar and a trial case for the Ministry of Education to look into.
At the moment we are facing a chicken-and-egg scenario, in that we need more schools and universities to be connected in order to be able to connect and collaborate on an ongoing basis. However, we have many ideas for further video conferences to continue to enhance the learning opportunities for our students, says Tony Bigby, Network Administrator at Kristin School.