Dunedin's Otago Boys’ High School is one of a growing number of schools opting for network computers.
A total of 50 computers is needed for the entire school, but only 14 NCs will be installed initially in a trial set-up in the social science department.
Computer manager Peter Foster says the social science department is the first to trial as a high proportion of the staff in that department is computer literate.
“They can work together and develop resources. And it allows me as the administrator to bed in the things they need before the less experienced staff use it.”
A vendor for the machines has not yet been decided, but Foster says the school has discussed this with some organisations. One of the organisations which has spoken to the school is Education Software Design (ESD).
ESD partner Sharon Hayes says since ESD began just over two years ago, it has put NCs into more than 20 schools and has more lined up. Its latest installation was for 32 NCs into Flaxmere’s Peterhead School, which will be finished once an ISDN connection is completed. She says when ESD first started it had a head start on the competition. “But people are now catching on to the idea.”
More than 90% of the company’s business is school-related. “Schools are realising the amount of work a stand-alone multimedia machine is going to create,” Hayes says. Foster agrees. He believes NCs are a good solution for schools in terms of cost and management, including security.
“The kids can’t fiddle with them. One of the biggest problems with PCs and kids is they’re not very secure; the kids can delete files and alter settings and you can’t really stop them.”
Another attraction is only having to upgrade software once. Because everything’s done by the server schools don’t have to spend money replacing machines that have grown old. “When it comes to upgrades you’re only upgrading the server — not every machine.”
He says NCs are “not so hot” when it comes to intensive graphics, but adds that students are not likely to be doing that in a classroom situation anyway.
Foster says the infrastructure is in place as far as the backbone is concerned, now the school has to purchase the NCs and a new server. The school already has a fibre-optic backbone. “All the network’s there, our connection to the Internet is there and every student who wants one can get their file area on the file server.”
He hopes the trial NCs will be in place sometime in September or October. Foster estimates a cost of $1000 per NC while the server will cost between $8000 and $9000