Learning portal an award winner

WELLINGTON Shire Council’s EduCloud project has been awarded the Municipal Association of Victoria’s Technology Award for Excellence.

The EduCloud project also won the Collaboration or Partnership of the Year award.

EduCloud is a super-fast Wi-Fi platform that will enable secondary school students and teachers to work, connect and collaborate across Wellington Shire to support and enhance learning, increase independence of learning, and offer opportunities previously not available to the region’s youth.

Council has been working closely with Sale College, Catholic College Sale, Gippsland Grammar, and Maffra and Yarram secondary colleges to provide access to EduCloud for students in years 10 to 12.

Wellington Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley said the award was due credit for council’s IT team.

“For Wellington Shire to receive these accolades, with tough competition from large metropolitan councils that have much larger budgets and access to resources, is just fantastic,” she said.

“As part of the redevelopment of the Port of Sale precinct, Wellington’s IT team identified an opportunity to work with local secondary colleges to provide a super-fast Wi-Fi network that would extend education beyond the classroom walls.

“With financial support from Esso Australia and BHP, EduCloud developed from a possibility to reality.

“Our local schools are really excited about this new technology and are working to get students signed up.”

The shire’s information services manager, Phill Phillipou, said it would help families who were in remote locations, or did not have reliable internet access.

“The schools have been really positive,” he said.

“They’re really excited to be able to offer this, and also excited, for example, for a student from Yarram to be able to go down to the Yarram Hub and use that facility — it’s a wonderful thing.

“It’s designed to bridge that digital divide with our metro counterparts, because we still have a lot of school families that don’t have internet access at home.”

The system is separate to the public Wi-Fi currently offered at the library, and will only be accessible through a school login.

“All of the schools have their own learning management systems,” Mr Phillipou added.

“This is about giving students access to those learning management systems,” he said, noting it was the first of its kind.

“With the Victorian achievement of the year, it’s highlighted that no other council has undertaken a collaboration with its schools at this level.

“We’ll be able to take on feedback and evolve the platform, now we’ve got the infrastructure.”

He said a state government education whitelist would be used to block access to inappropriate content.

EduCloud will be made available to schools from the new Port of Sale Wellington Centre from May.

The technology will be rolled out to other Wellington Shire libraries in Rosedale, Heyfield, Stratford and Maffra from June, along with the Yarram Hub.

The anticipated completion timeline for all Wellington Shire libraries is about six months.