A group of technology partners including Apple, Toshiba, Microsoft and OzEmail are teaming with the teachers' union in a valiant effort to provide 160,000 teacher members around Australia with a laptop IT package.
Under the initiative, known as Teachers First and launched in Canberra last week, the Australian Education Union is packaging the choice of an Apple Powerbook 1400/166c or Toshiba Satellite 300 laptop with a full suite of Internet services. The volume-priced package comes bundled with a full suite of mainstream applications software and a professional development program intended to provide both IT and curriculum support.
The laptops will be available either for rental or purchase, and the packages will give teachers about a 10 per cent discount on normal pricing. The union hopes to deliver 10 to 15,000 packages in the first 12 months. The scheme, which was some six to seven months in development, is initially being launched in Canberra and is on the discussion table in at least two other States.
According to ACT branch president Clive Haggar, the technology partners - Apple, Toshiba, Microsoft, Ozemail, Mackenzie Resource Management Services, Daintree and EdDirect, had shown a good mix of commercialism and altruism in their dealings with the union. And he said there was a desperate need in Australia to improve IT support to Australian schools and teachers.
"A survey last year highlighted the inadequacies in IT provision in Australian schools and we knew circumstances elsewhere had to be even worse. The real professional needs of teachers working in the Information Age have not been met.
"Every teacher needs a personal mobile office cum mobile teaching platform, cum online training and curriculum support facility," he said.