A customer of Internode, Willunga High School, with 850 students and a staff of 70, is the first secondary school in SA to be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN). Willunga, the first release site for the NBN in the state, already has around 150 NBN trial customers connected to the network. Located 45 kilometres south of Adelaide, Willunga High School is in a semi-rural environment, with strong community and industry support, particularly from the wine, grape-growing and hospitality sectors.
Willunga High School Principal Janelle Reimann said the NBN's speed, interactivity and videoconferencing capabilities were extremely valuable to Willunga High. "Significantly, the NBN offers us the opportunity to reverse the trend of centralising specialist courses in fewer schools," she said.
"Students disadvantaged by the tyranny of distance and smaller class and school numbers will be able to engage in a broader range of curriculum offerings. Programs such as Physics and Chemistry can be delivered throughout the district in real time while staff and students will be able to engage in higher order Science and Maths programs.
Socially, this is very important for our community, which wants its young people to remain in the local area rather than having to leave to pursue specialist studies—because once they go, they often do not return. With skill shortages that need to be met, especially in rural industries and the building and construction areas, this will allow students to gain qualifications without having to leave their district."
Mrs. Reimann said the NBN would change how people lived, communicated and learned. "It will allow our learning community to develop opportunities and networks for our students that are limited only by our imaginations," she said. "Through the National Broadband Network, we will use information technology in a manner that is faster and more interactive to promote deep and powerful learning. Students will be inspired in their learning by providing a global environment within the four walls of a classroom—those walls will virtually tumble before their very eyes.
Our students will be provided with access to a virtual world that empowers, enthuses and stimulates their young minds and takes them to a deeper and richer learning environment than could have been provided before the advent of the National Broadband Network."
As a demonstration of the greater interactive learning potential offered by the NBN, Internode, with its partner Cisco and TAFE SA, delivered a high quality, life-like videoconference of Willunga High students in a classroom interacting with a TAFE lecturer actually trimming vines at the nearby Chalk Hill vineyard.
Cisco deployed its TelePresence videoconferencing technology at Willunga High School, using the NBN to deliver a high definition video stream running at six megabits per second in each direction, Australia's education sector is a key market for Cisco TelePresence, which provides an enriched collaborative learning experience in the classroom and is already deployed at about 1600 schools in NSW.
Internode managing director Simon Hackett said NBN connectivity was an important building block for schools in Australia. "The NBN overcomes the tyranny of distance," he said. "It enables school to build communities of interest, both within their local district and with other schools, to deliver a better and more engaging learning experience for students."