Surfing the DER Laptop Roll Out

Tomorrow we’ll take a delivery of the Lenovo IdeaPad S10e at my school.  Stage 1 of the fast wireless network is in place. More optical fibre is currently going in so that we’re ready for stage 2 of the roll out when the entire school will be awash with access.

What follows immediately is the commissioning process in which each student is to be issued with their own laptop.  Things won’t be the same again after this, although it’s still far from clear exactly what the impact is going to be.

Teacher skills and preparedness for this change vary immensely.  We seem to have moved beyond the point at which any virtue is seen to accrue to those who overtly stand outside the application of digital technology. At least everyone is now having a bit of a go and this is becoming easier as there’s more and more conventional pedagogical material being digitised.  Mathletics has really taken off

Access to published digital material can only increase as publishers respond and provide more of their hard copy texts in a digital form.

What of our ‘Digital Natives’? Will we be able to take them beyond the Cargo Cult of the digital consumer and encourage them to become digital producers?

Setting up for commissioning laptops.


The set up was quite straight forward.  We set up four commissioning points, each with 12 power outlets, plus an additional 12 laptops with batteries fully charged.  This meant 60 laptops linked to two WAPs.  We began the process with 30 laptops then, after about 15 minutes, began comissioning the remaing 30. All ran quite smoothly.  There was the odd problem but nothing insurmountable.

Continuing on day 2 simply confirmed the technical quality of the DER laptop roll-out.  This is such an excellent and largely problem free innovation.  Overnight there were a few problems with students hot being able to gain access to the Internet.  All but one was easily rectified.  In the end we rolled-out 162 laptops.

Even with the relatively limited Stage 1 of the roll-out and the limited number of wireless access points available, we’re finding remarkable hot spots around the school.  New areas of the playground are suddenly being populated by students with laptops. The area between the school library and a nearby class room block has become propagation centre.

As a measure of the relevance of the DER I”ll recount one anecdote.

I was organising students to come to the library for the commissioning process and happened to walk into a photography class.  Here a student teacher was carefully and competently explaining the intricacies of loading 35mm film into a SLR Camera.  I excused myself and quietly explained the purpose of my visit, not wanting to disturb his lesson.  Someone overheard me mentioning the commissioning.  In moments the entire class was buzzing with excitement. There was no containing them.  The journey into analog photography would have to wait for another day, the digital realm was immediate and compelling.

Everything has run incredibly smoothly. We’ve been very well support by the Technical Support Officers (TSOs) engaged to assist with the implementation of the DER in NSW.  Since the roll-out is being staged, we had TSOs from our two other campuses plus two other schools.

Next week the real work begins.

4 thoughts on “Surfing the DER Laptop Roll Out

  1. What a great account of a busy day and lead up. You’re right, the real work begins now. To leverage the buzz that is clearly happening at your school. Here’s to hoping the teachers are up for the exciting challenges and new opportunities ahead!


  2. A great insight and account to the proccess and the excitement of the students. It appearsthe technical aspect is working along with human resources. Now let the real challenge begin Teachers are cleaver at adapting to change. now let’s embrace this and make it a success. Thankyou to the staff at Leichhardt for theor support to make the roll out successful.


  3. I was one of the visiting TSO’s. I must admit I am really starting to enjoy this job. Is all the expense worth it? yes.
    There is an image that will stick with me. When I left on the first day about 4:45pm there were two schoolmates sitting at the benches outside the library. They explained they were downloading pictures for their desktop. The sun was setting slowly but these mates were unaware. Showing each other what they had found.
    I got my first computer 25 years ago. My mum spent a whole two weeks wages on it. I was the last one of my friends to get a computer. I would visit my schoolmates afterschool hovering with the hope to get to play with their computers briefly. We all had different computers depending on what our parents could afford.
    This program is special it is more than the gift of a laptop – it allows every year 9 student the ability to be part of the common group regardless of standing. I hope we can enhance that association.


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