When teachers return from school holidays, they can take part in N4L’s new ‘Make a Splash’ programme designed to help them make the most of Pond. More than 75 schools representing around 2000 teachers have already signed up to be part of the programme, and they will join the 1500 teachers already inside Pond.
“Teachers have told us they want the ability to group items into related topics,” says Chris South, N4L’s Head of Dynamic Services, responsible for Pond’s development. “From today, they can now bundle resources into ‘buckets’, and other teachers can easily view and share these buckets within Pond. We wanted to make it easier for teachers to see what their colleagues in other schools find interesting and useful for student learning and their own professional development.”
Other new Pond features include the ability to bookmark items by labelling them ‘Ka Pai’, and a new ‘Ponder this ...’ tool allowing teachers to save items into Pond via a Chrome web browser. Teachers can now also upload documents directly to Pond.
N4L is regularly adding new features and refining existing functionality to ensure Pond remains responsive to the needs of teachers now and in the future. Teachers are already using Pond to discover new resources they can use in their classroom and to connect with colleagues across the country.
Those already in the Pond are enthusiastic about the new features.
“We are always looking for new ways to engage our students and improve their learning,” says Steve Hornby, a primary school teacher from Solway School in Masterton. “Pond prompts us to consider alternative education resources that we may not have otherwise known about. If a colleague teaching the same subject in another school has found an online programme that has helped get their students excited about a topic, then our teachers can see this in Pond and review the programme knowing that their peers have used it and liked it. It tells us that that resource is worth investigating for our own use.”
Burnside Primary School teacher Trudi Browne agrees.
“Our teachers are enjoying following the teacher profiles of their colleagues in other schools. The search engine is also proving popular as it allows us to go deep into the archives of Digital NZ and search video clips that are hard to find on regular search engines. Pond’s search returns the more educationally useful material to the top of the list and this saves us time having to go look for them.”
Both the rollout of N4L’s Pond and Managed Network are running are ahead of schedule, giving all teachers access to Pond earlier than expected. The Managed Network now has 928 schools connected to date. A connection to N4L’s Managed Network is not required to use Pond, which can be accessed with any internet connection.