IT managers weigh in on the digital education revolution

Computers in schools 'change the face' of education

The digital education revolution of 2007 has posed some management challenges but has had an overall positive impact on schools, two IT managers have claimed.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia, head of ICT at Saint Ignatius' College Riverview, Peter Anderson, and Head of IT at Grace Lutheran College, Peter Kellet, said funding initiated by the Rudd government in 2007 has had a continual impact on their students.

“We’ve currently got around 750 [computers funded by the government], and by the end of this year, that will have gone to about 1050,” Anderson said.

Kellet said that while each school has used the funding in different ways, Grace Lutheran College has used government funding to create an on-site resource centre.

“Every school have done it quite differently," he said. "One of the key models is where students in years nine to 12 are given the device and it’s funded by the Rudd government and perhaps there is a co-payment by a parent.

“We have a resource centre here where any student can come in and pick up a laptop; there’s no-one excluded and they take the laptop home.”

Anderson said St Ignatius' College supplies machines to students from year nine to 11 and while this is a school machine, they are permitted to keep the machine once they finish year 12.

Both IT leaders agreed that good management was necessary for the computers in schools program to be successful, as both have said there have been a few bumps in the road during the implementation phase of the digital education revolution.

“We’re issuing MacBooks and we’re setting them up to be dual booted so that is as they are started up, the student is prompted to choose whether they want to run Windows or OS 10 so they can use both platforms,” Anderson said.

“In our management, we’ve had to look at managing both Windows and OS 10 for each student. An invaluable tool for us has been CASPAR, which is an imaging suite for Macintosh”

Kellet said Grace Lutheran College faced a massive change in IT infrastructure during the rollout.

“It’s a massive change for IT infrastructure," he said. "You need data and wireless and a lot of the schools just don’t have it."

While the program has provided a challenge to IT managers, Kellet said it has been an overall positive addition to his school.

”I think it has been in my career, a once in a career event in my industry," he said. "I don’t think we’ll see the likes of it again.

"It’s changed the whole face of this school forever and I really applaud the current government for doing it.”

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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