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Greater Christchurch Schools Network (GCSN)
The focus of the GCSN is on creating a community of connected schools, teaching professionals and educational resources in the greater Christchurch region utilising the high speed fibre optic network infrastructure being installed by Enable Networks.
The aim is to allow schools to:
- Effectively access and share content with other schools
- Participate in real time video conferencing and virtual classrooms
- Access innovative education, ICT and communications service providers
The GCSN project has the support of the Primary, Intermediate and Secondary schools Principals associations, as well as the Ministry of Education and key educational institutions.
A cyber infrastructure which ensures teachers and students in Christchurch and later Canterbury schools are able to learn locally, nationally and globally.
The following principles, developed by the Christchurch Schools, have been promoted as open and democratic to support the new network:
- Educationally focussed– with the key being increasing students access to learning and learning outcomes;
- Access for all –All schools can join and participate whether or not they are ready or able to take up broadband services;
- Openness – in terms of preserving the principles of an open access architecture,
- Affordability – through collaborative purchasing and cost sharing where appropriate;
- Flexibility – schools choose the service and capability from an appropriate offering. Schools will still responsible for their own decision-making;
- Advocacy –providing a unified voice and representation for schools;
- Responsiveness – Technology is used to increase the flexibility of schools to meet the individual needs and preferences;
- Collaboration – at all levels; working together and sharing expertise, knowledge and information. This includes working with local providers of services to the network to ensure maximum value is obtained locally.
Enable Networks– an independent subsidiary of Christchurch City Holdings Limited, responsible for the design and rapid construction of an open access fibre network utilising the best local specialist contractors and the best technology available anywhere in the world.
CORE Education– a not-for-profit educational research and education organisation based in Christchurch, with an international reputation for support and promotion of the use of new technologies for learning, and enjoys a strong relationship with the NZ Ministry of Education as preferred provider for a range of national scale projects.
Canterbury Development Corporation - Christchurch’s economic development agency tasked with accelerating growth and transforming the Christchurch and Canterbury economy.
Planning for the Greater Christchurch Schools Network began in 2006. A seminal discussion paper, “Christchurch Schools Loop proposal”, which was written by Derek Wenmoth of CORE Education, marked the first official steps. Since that time there have been several meetings and discussions but little progress could be made till the beginning of 2009. Fibre optic cable had been extended across the city and the dreams could at last be turned into reality.
An alignment of a range of services within Christchurch, nationally and internationally made it possible for the development of a schools’ network in the greater Christchurch area. Using a state of the art open access fibre $50 million network within Christchurch, (Enable Networks), the commitment of the new National-led Government to provide $34 million for upgrading internal school networks, the development of school loops based on fibre throughout New Zealand, and the Ministry of Education issuing an RFP for Regional Clusters throughout New Zealand.
At the beginning of 2009 a Broadband Steering group was set up to initiate the work. The three principals’ associations, - Canterbury Primary principals, Canterbury Intermediate Principals and the Canterbury West Coast Principals- each have two representatives on the Steering group. This work has been actively supported by Canterbury Development Corporation, Enable Networks and CORE Education with funding. At the end of June 2009 two project managers were appointed, one to look after the technical issues for schools and the other to work through learning issues. Teachers involved in these last two groups held fortnightly meetings in the latter part of the year. The technical group has worked on RFPs for schools and the curriculum group on learning programmes for schools which included a successful application to establish a regional ICTPD cluster.