I had the privilege of attending the official launch of the Greater Christchurch Schools Network website yesterday afternoon at Burnside High School – attended by around 200 principals and education leaders from Christchurch schools, plus various representatives of the local business community who have been supporting this endeavour, including enable networks and the Canterbury Development Corporation. CORE Education also got a profile for the contribution it has made to the development of the GCSN community.
Guest of honour was Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, who spoke positively about the potential of fibre connectivity to schools and the ways in which this can benefit learners and learning. All very encouraging and affirming of the work we’ve been doing in Christchurch.
The launch of a website is rather ho hum these days, with websites being started up every day – but for the GCSN it was more about the launch of the community than the website. The momentum for this initiative has been building for nearly five years now, from some informal discussions about the concept of a MUSH network in the city leading to the current situation where more than 200km of fibre has been deployed around the city, and things are on track to have all 160+ schools in the greater Christchurch region connected by the end of 2011.
While there has inevitably been a significant amount of effort put in by specific individuals and companies, the main reason for the success of this venture so far has been the level of buy-in, participation and commitment from people across all areas of the school and business community. Thus, the website that was launched yesterday is intended to provide a focal point for that community. It is far more than a brochure site for the GCSN. While it will be the place where news, updates and features are presented, it has been designed to allow members of the community to make their own contributions, whether they be resources, links to workshops or professional learning opportunities, or programmes being offered for students in other schools.
In particular, I am really pleased to see the development of the ‘learning centre‘ on the site, focusing on the 3 Ps – Programmes, Projects and Professional learning. In these areas teachers and schools have an opportunity to share ideas, resources and specific events that both students and teachers can participate in and benefit from. I’m looking forward to seeing how this area will grow and develop.