Computer access a sore point

A LAUNCESTON IT teacher fears the state's public students are being left behind due to a lack of access to computers in schools.

The teacher, who did not wish to be named, highlighted the plight of their high school of 500 students which has access to only 180 computers, in a recent letter to The Examiner.

According to the teacher, the Education Department told the school the computers had to be removed in the past few weeks because they were now without warranty and could not be kept due to budget constraints.

The department's IT services director David Briggs said schools purchase computers with a four-year warranty, which is much longer than the industry standard one-year warranty.

He said the four-year warranty was generally regarded as the end of that computer's working life in a school and although there is no directive from the department to remove out-of-warranty computers, it is regarded as good practice.

Mr Briggs said all public schools have an information communications technology plan and each school also has its own IT committee which determines how best to manage the computers in their school.

"Tasmanian government schools are provided with an annual ICT grant as part of their SRP," he said.

"How the grant is spent is determined by the school based on the recommendations of the school IT committee and the tasks and actions identified in their ICT plan."

In recent years schools around the state have introduced a Bring Your Own Device policy, that allows students to bring their own laptop, iPad or other mobile device to school for learning purposes.

The policy is widespread in Australia, with state education department's developing guidelines for schools and students about the use of such items accessing the school's wi- fi network.

In Tasmania it is up to each school whether they allow students to bring their own device and, if so, must follow a few department guidelines, such as informing the school community.

According to the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations, equity was the key to any Bring Your Own Device policy.

The association's executive officer Cassandra Wells said they had highlighted to the department that the policy should not become the norm for what was expected in a school as a basic learning tool, and those students not able to bring their own would not be disadvantaged in any way.

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