In the midst of debate over broadband policies announced by the Gillard government and the Coalition, the first school connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) by retail service provider Internode says a faster Internet connection can be beneficial to education.
The Circular Head Christian School, located in Smithton, Tasmania, has been hooked up to the fibre-optic network as part of the Stage One program overseen by NBN Tasmania.
Circular Head Christian School Principal Patrick Bakes said that since being connected to the NBN, staff and students were no longer limited by sluggish Internet during peak times. "We can have up to 150 students on the Internet at once, which our NBN connection handles with ease," he said.
According to Bakes, there are many educational benefits by being connected to a network like the NBN. One of these is the virtual classroom concept where technology is incorporated into the learning process. Virtual online classrooms are "much more feasible". "We are also developing the use of interactive whiteboards throughout the school and improved Internet access makes the potential use of these devices greater."
Bakes said the school was also examining videoconferencing as a way to deliver subjects between the Christian schools in Tasmania. "We have conducted some test high-definition videoconferencing trials, and this is not hampered at all by general use of the Internet connection. We're also exploring the use of videoconferencing between our students and other parties, such as specialist educators located interstate or overseas."
The Circular Head Christian School previously relied on two ADSL2+ connections before being connected to the NBN. Although those links reported speeds of 13 megabits per second downstream and 1Mbps upstream, actual traffic throughput never reached these speeds. Bakes also says that the school is paying less for the fibre service in comparison to its previous ADSL2+ service.