The New South Wales Department of Education has an ambitious new plan in motion to put 240,000 netbooks into local high schools, despite the fact the CIO Stephen Wilson thinks high schools are “the most hostile environment you can roll computers into.”
The Lenovo netbook initiative will offer new challenges to tech security. Students and parents have been asked to sign forms acknowledging their intent to take care of the machines and use them properly.
The machines are being given to ninth graders and will come with Windows 7, Microsoft Office, the Adobe CS4 creative suite, iTunes, and other education-centric content. Despite the costly software package, 2 GB of RAM and 6-hour batteries, the NSW Department of Education has restrained costs to $500/unit.
In order to ensure the security of such a massive system, each netbook has been password protected. The netbooks are additionally embedded with tracking software at the BIOS level. The netbooks can be remotely disabled in the event of their theft or sale, a technique that will work regardless of whether the hard drives are switched out or operating systems cleared.
New South Wales’ move to bring netbooks to students is just the latest in a number of educational plans meant to bring technology to the individual level in classrooms.