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EN(ni) - The new Education Network for Northern Ireland's Schools

A new Education Technology contract has been awarded by C2k and the Western Education and Library Board which will deliver the next generation of education technology services to all grant-aided schools across Northern Ireland.

Northgate Managed Services has been selected as the successful bidder for the latest C2k contract which will replace the current ICT Managed Services for schools.

The new service will commence on 1 April 2012 and will see Northgate deliver to schools across Northern Ireland Europe’s first Education Cloud environment, providing secure access to resources online, 24 x 7 from a wide range of devices. As part of this service Eircom will deliver superfast connectivity to the Education Cloud, providing schools with up to 200Mb of bandwidth. The application and use of this solution will continue to be promoted and supported by staff within C2k.

This new provision has been designed to create a dynamic, future proofed, flexible service which will deliver increased access to a rich pool of learning resources. It will support collaboration between schools and will help develop skills which will equip learners for the future.

A key aspect of the service will be to facilitate the increased use of personal smart mobile devices, such as tablet computers. It will also take account of the need for increased bandwidth and data storage, with an emphasis on the centralised hosting of applications and the increasing use of WiFi in networks. As a result major improvements in the use of digital technologies will be delivered to all schools.

In announcing the new contract the Education Minister, John O’Dowd said: This significant contract, representing an investment of just under £170million over the next 5 years, will offer schools greater flexibility and choice.

“It will give teachers and pupils access to the best learning resources from across the world and will bring these resources into the classroom. Access to the ‘digital classroom’ and its e-learning tools, lessons and resources will also be possible from any internet connected device, 24 hours a day - allowing teachers, pupils and parents to work in real partnership to support learning.

“The communications and e-learning elements of the service will support real collaboration between schools allowing them to work together to deliver a shared curriculum and give all their pupils a richer learning experience.”

The new contract has been designed to recognise the changing nature of technology alongside the specific educational requirements of Northern Ireland’s schools. It will again place the Northern Ireland Education Service in the vanguard of those who recognise the valuable contribution that technology can make to maintaining an attractive and relevant learning experience for all young people.