Western NSW selective students "jump the gun" on new Lenovo netbooks

xsel tipped to have received the first batch of second generation Lenovo netbooks

Virtual selective school regional provisioner xsel is believed to have received the first batch of second generation Lenovo netbooks, announced yesterday as part of the NSW Department of Education's Digital Education Revolution. xsel has provided netbooks to its current intake of 30 Year seven students, who started this year on the virtual selective school program.

NSW Minister for Education and Training Verity Firth yesterday unveiled the new notebooks, which will be delivered to Year nine students at NSW public high schools at a rate of 10,000 per week.

However, the 30 Year seven students who started xsel class on February 23 are already using the new Lenovo netbooks.

xsel manager Bill Adams told Computerworld Australia that the newly minted program was "very lucky with the Digital Education Revolution."

"We were able to jump the gun on that. We have been lucky enough to piggyback onto that, so our students are the only Year sevens with DER laptops," Adams said. "xsel supplies each student in the program with one of the second generation Lenovo netbooks."

Neither the NSW Department of Education or the Minister's office were available for comment at time of writing.

The netbooks are powered by an Intel Atom processor and run the Windows 7 operating system. They are also equipped with the Microsoft Office 2007 productivity suite, and an Adobe software suite which includes Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop Elements, Flash Professional, Fireworks, Dreamweaver and Connect.

xsel is a virtual school program for the Western NSW region that allows students who pass the NSW Selective School Placement Test to take selective-level mathematics, English and science classes in their home school. The program opened on February 23 with its first intake of 30 Year 7 students, each of which were given a Lenovo netbook.

The program utilises the netbook's built-in webcam and microphone, in conjunction with Adobe Connect videoconferencing software and the 802.11n wireless access points in schools so teachers can communicate remotely with students.

According to Adams, there have been few problems with the netbooks or software since the program started.

"The major emphasis for Term one is getting our head around Adobe Connect," Adams said. However, he said there was some "variability in connectivity in schools; in some places the wireless signal is strong, and somewhere it isn't so strong. The software demands pretty good connectivity."

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