Ararat schools to gain access to world class digital classroom

Region - Minister for Education Martin Dixon has announced that schools in the Ararat and Stawell regions will gain access to a world class digital classroom via an extension of the Victorian Coalition Government's Rural Video Conferencing Initiative.

Mr Dixon said 75 additional rural and regional schools would be receiving state of the art video conference technology worth $900,000, including a flexible suite of virtual learning tools for students and teachers to connect, interact, share and learn with others outside of their classroom and school.

Ararat North Primary School and Marnoo Primary School will each receive this new technology.

"Video conferencing and wireless connectivity break down geographical barriers and ensure richer educational opportunities for students and teachers," Mr Dixon said.

"Access to a broad range of curricula and learning opportunities may be taken for granted by most metropolitan students, whereas students from remote rural schools may not have enjoyed the same opportunities."

Video conferencing allows students to participate in virtual excursions to a range of Australian and international locations and gives teachers access to a range of professional learning opportunities, subject associations and cultural organisations.

More than 600 Victorian government school sites were connected to the enterprise-class Polycom video conferencing system in 2012.

Mr Dixon said flexible and mobile access to online learning experiences using devices such as tablets and notebook computers is essential to helping every student reach their full potential.

"That is why I am so pleased to announce that a further 540 schools will soon be connected to the Department's enterprise-class wireless network eduSTAR.net," Mr Dixon said.

Schools in the region to be involved in this program include Ararat North, Ararat West, Buangor, Concongella, Elmhurst, Great Western, Halls Gap, Landsborough, Marnoo, Maroona, Moyston, Navarre and Pomonal primary schools.

The eduSTAR.net network has previously been rolled out at 1,091 Victorian government school sites and $4.2 million has been allocated for the further deployment.

"Wireless networks are essential in today's modern schools," Mr Dixon said.

"With video conferencing and wireless internet connectivity the traditional classroom can open up to virtual audiences, and provide specialised programs to students hundreds of kilometres away.

"The decision to again provide internet services free of charge will collectively save Victoria's government schools $20.9 million, which they can put towards delivering quality infrastructure and teaching programs.

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