Guidelines for choosing devices and tools
Since 2012 Te Kura has been replacing old print-based subject booklets with online resources. Te Kura students enrolled in online courses use our Online Teaching and Learning Environment (OTLE), which is a secure, password-protected environment accessed via the internet.
An internet-capable device gives students instant access to unlimited resources and enables them to support, extend, communicate and share their learning in ways that prepares them for the future. Students enrolled in any courses with an online component will need access to a suitable digital device with internet connectivity.
The OTLE provides the functionality students will need to learn online.
Students and parents should consider the following guidelines when looking at options for purchasing a device or deciding whether an existing device will be suitable.
A suitable device must enable the student to:
- access the internet and Te Kura’s OTLE (via a web browser)
- create audio and video recordings, as well as still images
- create and edit documents, including spreadsheets and presentations (using PowerPoint or Prezi for example).
A laptop or desktop computer, netbook, or tablet PC (also known as a Smart PC) will provide students with a comprehensive learning tool which can be used to create and share content.
What do I need to learn online?
You’ll need a suitable device, such as a laptop or desk top computer, and an internet connection.
A data plan of 30GB or more is recommended for students who are enrolled in an online course. Dial-up internet will not be sufficient.
Can I use a tablet or smartphone?
Tablet devices, such as an iPad or Android Tablet, can be used to access some of the learning activities and resources in OTLE, but not all. You may also be able to complete some online activities using a smartphone, but you would require a laptop or desktop computer, netbook, or tablet PC as well.
Students will also need access to email to receive instructions about how to log into the OTLE and other important information, and to communicate directly with their learning advisor or teacher.
There is more information about the hardware and software required for online learning on our website or you can request a copy by calling us on 0800 65 99 88.
What software do I need?
Our Online Teaching and Learning Environment (OTLE) provides a lot of the functionality required to learn online, but there is some other software you’ll need as well.
In partnership with Microsoft and the Ministry of Education, Te Kura is providing Microsoft Office to every student free of charge. Office 365 includes the latest version of Word, for writing; Excel, for spreadsheets; PowerPoint, for presentations; OneNote, for organisation and note taking; and much more. More information and links to download the software are on the page Free Microsoft Office for students.
Most of the other software you’ll need can be downloaded free from the web:
• Internet browser – Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox are the browsers you should use to access the OTLE. These can be downloaded free from the internet. Internet Explorer won’t allow you to use all the functionality available in the OTLE.
• Common browser plugins – examples of these are Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Java, Adobe Shockwave or Apple Quicktime. Check our glossary of terms for more information about these.
• Graphics, image editing or drawing software.
What other tools do I need?
It would be good to have:
- access to a webcam with microphone so you can record video and audio files (many laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs generally have these built-in)
- a digital camera or device capable of taking digital photographs (e.g. smartphone or tablet)
- an email account with a recognised internet service provider (or a My TeKura email account).
Some courses also require students to have a gmail account so they can access Google Docs.
Do I need a printer?
Access to a printer would be useful.
Who can I contact if I’m having problems using OTLE?
If you are having problems doing some of the activities in OTLE, first make sure you aren’t using Internet Explorer to access it. If you are, switch to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. If you’re still having problems, contact our OTLE helpdesk by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 65 99 88 extension 8712 between 8am and 5pm on week days.
Your learning advisor or subject teacher should be able to answer any general questions that you have about learning online.
Why can’t I use Internet Explorer in OTLE?
Internet Explorer will allow you to use some of the functionality in OTLE, but not all. This means some of the activities you might be asked to complete in the OTLE, such as drag and drop activities, hovers and interactives won’t work as they should. We recommend you use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari.
Does Te Kura have a programme to assist students who don’t have access to a suitable device or internet connectivity?
Yes, we are able to assist eligible families of full-time students who are enrolled in Te Ara Hou and/or an online course at curriculum levels 3-5 (year 9 and 10). If you do not have access to a device and/or are not connected to the internet and are a beneficiary or Community Services Card holder, you can apply to Te Kura for assistance. An application form is available on our website through the Laptop and internet assistance page or you can call us on 0800 65 99 88 to apply over the telephone or ask for a form to be sent to you through the post.
If you are not a beneficiary or Community Services Card holder you may make an application by writing to Te Kura’s Chief Executive outlining why you are unable to provide access to a suitable device or the internet for your student. Please provide as many details as you can and address your letter to:
Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu
Private Bag 39992
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045
Other things to consider
Robustness - if you are looking at a portable device, it should be strong enough to survive a fall onto a hard surface.
Insurance - we recommend appropriate insurance cover.
Warranty - minimum warranties with new devices are typically 1 year, but you may want to consider upgrading this to a 2 or 3 year warranty. A factor to consider is how long the device will be unavailable should it require repair under warranty. It could be a few days, or as long as a few weeks. Check if the supplier can offer a loan device should repair be required.
Optional USB DVD - some devices such as netbooks do not have a built-in DVD drive, so you may want to consider a USB DVD (an external DVD drive connected to the device through a USB cable) to be able to load any additional software you purchase or to view DVDs/CD-ROMs.
Glossary of terms
Adobe Reader – For viewing PDF documents in your course.
Adobe Flash – For viewing animations in your course.