Page 3386 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 September 2015

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over the 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years to ensure all of our students, both primary and secondary, are benefiting from the nation’s fastest school internet speeds. Our students expect reliable access to learning from wherever they are whenever they need it, and the ACT government is providing the digital tools, services and connectivity required for its citizens to realise the aspirations of the digital Canberra action plan.

The digital backpack is a secure ACT public schools online portal which provides easy access to online learning platforms and resources for students and teachers. The digital backpack can be accessed from any device with a modern internet browser at school, at home and through the growing network of publicly available wi-fi in the ACT on their own device of choice.

I was very pleased to launch earlier in the year an e-book library which is now available through the digital backpack. The e-book collection is designed to augment the existing high quality library services on offer to our schools and expand opportunities for reading across all public school communities. Our extensive e-book catalogue provides all ACT public schools with access to over 4,000 e-books including more than 400 audio books. The collection has grown threefold since its release this year and will continue to grow each year. The collection can be accessed and downloaded on students’ device of choice and is based on an age-appropriate access, aligned to the Chief Minister’s reading challenge. I recall my first visit to Calwell High School in January this year, where I could see firsthand students accessing the collection on tablets and any other device they had with them and I saw how easy it was to access and how engaging the platform was for delivering literacy in our schools.

The directorate has launched the world-leading education cloud platform Google apps for education also for ACT public schools. This too is available through the digital backpack. Google apps for education is a modern platform for communication and collaboration and provides students and staff with unlimited online storage available anywhere, anytime on their own device of choice. Google apps for education was trialled and selected by teachers and students in our schools because it is an authentic, real-world tool that students and teachers already use at home. It is familiar and provides all the ingredients for a modern, connected and collaborative learning environment.

The Google apps for education platform is proving to be one of the most successful learning services provided to our public schools, with 21,000 students now connected to the platform and more than 750,000 resources created by teachers and students since its release in February. Alfred Deakin High School is a great example of a school that has provided a personalised and innovative approach to learning with these new capabilities. Students have reliable access on their own personal device anywhere in the school, and often with over 500 student devices logged into the network at any given time, all connected to their learning by Google apps for education. Google apps was used as the collaborative platform for their student-led exhibitions program. Students at the school, in partnership with Communities@Work, were able to plan and collaborate online using Google apps, which led to the success of an event that catered for hundreds of people in the community.

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