NSW DET kickstarts netbook deployment, seeks IT staff

It’s an early Christmas for Year 9 students who are the first to receive the promised laptops

After a lengthy wait NSW high school students are receiving the netbooks promised to them by the state’s Department of Education (DET).

The NSW Digital Education Revolution tender opened in December, seeking a supplier to provision 200,000 netbooks to 571 schools for year 9-12 students over the next four years. The device had to be under $500, weigh less than 1.75kg, be smaller than an A4 sheet of paper, have a minimum screen size of 8.9-inches and be able to boot up in less than five seconds.

Despite IDC PC analyst, Felipe Rego, expressing doubt that a single supplier would be able to offer a device to meet those specific requirements before the January 14 deadline, six companies were shortlisted and Lenovo secured the $110 million contract with its IdeaPad S10e laptop in April. Microsoft was selected as a software partner, where it will serve up the Windows 7 operating system and Office suite.

Year 9 students are the first recipients in the netbook rollout and the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and NSW Education Minister, Verity Firth, will visit Fairvale High School in Sydney to grasp how the devices will be used in class.

In a release, Minister Firth also said the DET is taking on 400 additional IT support officers to provide on-site assistance to students and teachers. The Department is seeking people with excellent IT and communication skills for full-time temporary positions for the next four years. Three hundred places have already been filled.

The second phase of the recruitment process will commence early next month, which will include part-time IT support officer vacancies. According to a statement by a NSW DET spokesperson, applicants need to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Successful completion of a computer studies program to year 12 or demonstrated experience in computer use and understanding
  • Demonstrated problem solving skills and ability to provide effective computer support
  • Sound communication and administrative skills
  • Good organisational skills and ability to determine work priorities
  • Ability to learn and use a variety of computer application systems

Early this month, ARN revealed the while NSW school PCs employ the McAfee SmartFilter XL with TrustedSource Web Database as an Internet filter, netbooks will use a licensed Blue Coat Systems clean-feed solution which is managed solely by the NSW DET.

The December tender also had a $70 million wireless connectivity component, which was won by IBM. The vendor will implement a centrally managed network over the next year.