N4L (Network for Learning) has won the most innovative initiative award at the Hi-Tech Awards gala for its online learning hub Pond, designed to make it easier for teachers to find and share educational content, as well as connect with their peers across the country.
The panel of international and local judges said they were impressed at the way N4L had created a transformative educational and collaboration environment that is believed to be a world first. Their comments were read out to the audience of 700-plus attending the awards ceremony on Friday, May 15.
“Pond is a unique project that’s garnered international attention and admiration from other countries’ education systems and the judges see it as an example of true Kiwi ingenuity that has the potential to positively impact every school and every child in the country,” the judges said.
“Not only has their solution the ability to scale as a global commercial opportunity, the platform and concept has the potential of reaching across other verticals and is likely to have a significant long-term impact on New Zealand’s prosperity, through the betterment of education processes and content.”
Pond’s user numbers include more than 8600 teachers and 340 organisations that provide content and services relevant to education. All of Pond’s content is generated by its user community, where it can be tagged, reviewed, bundled with other items and shared with other users.
Chris South, who leads the Pond development team as N4L’s head of Dynamics Services, credited the 500 teachers who were part of the company’s “pioneer educator programme” for its success.
“Teachers have been included in the design process from day one. It’s really thanks to them – their invaluable feedback and the actions they’ve taken inside the environment, which has made Pond the success it is today.”
Earlier this month Pond’s users were given the option to make the learning materials they add to Pond’s fast-growing catalogue more accessible for public viewing, making these items visible to anyone who searches for that topic on the web.
Links to Pond resources marked for public viewing can also be shared via email and social media. The public can also search Pond from pond.co.nz.
In addition to Pond, N4L’s Managed Network was recognised by the Hi-Tech awards judges, being named a finalist in the public sector technology solution category. A year ahead of schedule, the government-funded Managed Network is now being used by more than 507,000 students and 35,000 teachers from more than 1600 schools.