Building the Network for Learning: Commentary by Niki Davis

You may, or may not, be familiar with the Network for Learning (N4L) that is being developed in New Zealand. The potential of such a network is huge, but it requires a collaborative effort to actually make it work. It’s not so much about the infrastructure, it’s more about the people, the connections…the opportunities to collaborate, share, and build. How can you get involved, if you are not already? In her column While waiting for the Network for Learning we are building it!  (CINZ) Niki offers some suggestions, while also adding ideas for the overall planning behind the N4L. (All quotes from the article reproduced in this post are with kind permission of Niki Davis.)

Niki provides a useful overview of the background to the N4L.

Let me introduce you to the crown entity that has been established this year called the Network for Learning Ltd. (N4L). The New Zealand Government is making a significant investment in infrastructure that will deliver ultra-fast broadband (UFB) to more than 97% of New Zealand schools by 2016, including support for upgrades to schools’ internal network infrastructure (SNUP). This began as the Ultrafast Broadband in Schools (UFBiS) initiative in 2010 and the best information is probably on the Ministry of Education “Enabling e-Learning” website led by Margaret McLeod and Howard Baldwin In 2011 cabinet approved a business case for a managed network with managed services for schools and decided that this “Network for Learning” would be overseen by a new Crown-owned Company, (called the “Network for Learning Ltd”/N4L; incorporated in July 2012 see The Network for Learning Ltd. aims to realise the benefits of this infrastructure investment in terms of improved educational outcomes for students in line with government policy. The N4L Ltd is accountable to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education who have appointed N4L’s independent board to govern this crown company. The board have now appointed a chief executive and are gaining additional staff to ensure a network service is available to all schools in 2013.

To conceptualise what the N4L ‘looks like’ in practice, Niki gives an insight into what is underway in the Cantanet and Westnet clusters, as well as  activities in initial teacher education that provide significant resources and networking activity that should benefit and accelerate the growth of the N4L and its impact”. Niki goes on to say

I trust that readers will therefore support the case for those involved in initial teacher education to be encouraged to actively participate in the N4L with our colleagues and their students in schools. After all, to limit access would reduce the preparation of newly qualified teachers for schooling today and block development. For that reason I have developed a discussion paper (see and sought and received support from key agencies including the Tertiary eLearning Reference Group, TEFANZ, the VLNC Council, and DEANZ, the national association for open flexible and distance learning representing all sectors of education and training.

Will you join the conversation? “Only then can the N4L emerge and grow to play its part to support increased educational outcomes and related economic benefits for all students and their communities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand”.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by katypang:


About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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