This blog post was taken from an announcement on the Microsoft New Zealand News Centre.
NZ Catholic Schools to connect with a shared online community
The New Zealand Catholic Education Office is set to lead the international Catholic community with the launch of an online education network today that will give over 4,000 teachers the ability to share resources and collaborate in new ways.
Microsoft New Zealand and the New Zealand Catholic Education Office (NZCEO) today officially unveiled the online network as the first outcome of the Education Alliance Agreement signed between the two organisations.
The online services portal is built on Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud platform and incorporates collaboration tools such as Yammer, shared workspaces and catholic education resources.
Sir Brother Pat Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of the NZCEO, says the network will increase the digital literacy of the whole school community and will enhance the special character of Catholic schools.
“This network and partnership with Microsoft will strengthen our community and help us use the vast array of skills and resources within the Catholic education sector more effectively and equitably,” says Sir Brother Lynch.
The NZCEO and Microsoft recently entered into an Education Alliance Agreement. The schools online network is the first deliverable from this, and will be followed by Microsoft working with the NZCEO to upskill teachers and schools to ensure that schools get the most out of this network and technology in teaching.
Six schools in Auckland took part in a pilot programme for the online network over the last year. This allowed the NZCEO and Microsoft to conduct a full review and make improvements to the online service.
Evan Blackman, Microsoft New Zealand’s Education Sector Director, says partnerships such as these are about empowering educators and inspiring students through the smart use of technology.
“The launch of the Catholic school education portal today is a great step towards lifting collaboration across the Catholic school community, and will enable the more than 4,000 educators across the 249 NZ Catholic schools to work together to advance both the special character of these schools and the educational achievement of their students,” says Blackman.
“Improving collaboration amongst schools and educators has been consistently called out in research and by the Ministry of Education as the key catalyst for the sector moving towards innovative, future-focused learning.”
Blackman says the NZ Catholic schools community already has some great examples of innovative teaching and learning, such as Baradene College in Auckland which was recognised as a Microsoft Showcase School in 2014.
“The intent of this portal and the partnership is to support Catholic schools’ move to 21st Century learning and ultimately equip students with the digital literacy and skills they’ll need in the workforce,” says Blackman.
“Initiatives like this shows the NZCEO’s commitment to moving the sector forward, and we are very pleased to be able to be a partner in that.”
Blackman says Microsoft has a deep understanding of how technology can enhance teaching, learning, and assessment for Kiwi students, and will offer future support through their professional development programmes, such as Partners in Learning, for NZCEO’s educators.
“This will cover how to effectively use technology in the classroom and how to use the network to share information and skills.”
All state and integrated schools have access to Microsoft’s full suite of e-learning tools under the Ministry of Education’s Microsoft Schools Agreement.
The New Zealand online Catholic education network is part of a broader agreement between the Catholic International Education Office and Microsoft Corporation to build a global network based on Microsoft’s Office 365 for Education platform.