Victorian school may deploy 3,500 iPads


news Independent Melbourne school Haileybury has already rolled out 1,000 iPads to staff members and students throughout its three campuses in the Victorian capital and may roll out several thousand more as it attempts to take advantage of the Apple technology in education.

The school is affiliated with the Uniting Church and operates three campuses in the Melbourne suburbs of Berwick, Brighton East and Keysborough, including an all-boys college and an all-girls college. It is known as one of Melbourne’s premiere independent schools and also offers the the International Baccalaurate Diploma alongside more traditional Australian education.

In a media release issued by wireless networking vendor Meru Networks this month, the company revealed Haileybury kicked off an extensive iPad deployment program in 2012. “In August last year,” the statement said, “Haileybury embarked on a new pilot technology program that would see over 1,000 iPads deployed, one to every staff member and every student at the Berwick campus from Year-5 to Year-11 and to every Year-9 student across the remaining two campuses in January 2012. If the pilot program is successful, the remaining campuses will roll out iPads to all 3,500 students.”

Meru Networks is involved in the rollout from the wireless angle, with a review finding that the school’s previous wireless setup would not be able to cope with the additional “density or diversity of devices” caused by the iPads and other devices being used on the network.

“We did not have the confidence that our previous wireless infrastructure, which was only 18-months old, would support us to implement the school’s technology program. It became evident through our investigative process that the Meru Networks solution would enable us to do this. Meru has delivered more than what was promised to us – it simply works,” said Charles Lloyd, Deputy ICT Manager at Haileybury.

The solution had to provide complete wireless access for all 3,500 students and staff at the school’s three campuses in Brighton, Berwick and Keysborough. The Meru solution encompassed multiple controllers, 382 access points, Meru’s Network Manager, as well as Meru’s Identity Manager with Smart Connect to manage the surge of wireless devices from students and staff that access the school network.

As part of its technology program, the school uses a wide range of wireless devices including iPads, iPhones and notebooks, where Information and Communications Technology skills are developed progressively from the Early Learning Centre to Year-12.

The news comes as iPads and other tablets are increasingly being used in Australian educational organisations. Students and staff of years 9–12 at Brighton Grammar School, Victoria were each provided with an Acer Iconia Tab A500, Acer revealed in a statement in December last year. The move is part of what is being publicised as the first large Android program for an Australian school.

In addition, a separate trial was also conducted at University of Melbourne residential college Trinity College over the past several years, which saw hundreds of iPads deployed and a report recommending a universal rollout to all students and staff at the college. Such a rollout would mirror a similar initiative by the University of Adelaide, which in September 2010 revealed it would give hundreds of students enrolling in a science degree in 2011 iPads, in an attempt to kill off the humble paper textbook.

In general, schools and universities right around Australia have jumped headfirst into iPad trials as they rush to discover exactly what the device’s use will be in the educational field, although other sectors such as public health have not been as fast to start trialling the devices.

3,500 iPads is a lot of iPads. I would be fascinated to see what management software and processes has been or will be put in place to manage a tablet fleet of this size, as it is my understanding that this is where a lot of the complexity around iPads rollouts resides in major organisations — in the management of them.


  1. hooo that’s going to be interesting.

    presumably this is purely for content delivery.. I cant imagine that “learning to use an ipad” is a part of their IT curriculum.

    They must have a heap of faith in their content development team. It’s a big investment for a concept that arguably has yet to prove any value add…

    • iPads are great tools for content creation in many areas. They are not simply consumption devices, and as someone who teaches people how to use them, I can tell you they’re not difficult to learn.

      • My problem with iPads being used over notebooks; is programmability.

        Personally, I think Asus Transformers should be used in schools. Keyboards, better battery life, USB support. Sure, its not an “iPad” so people will think less of it. But you don’t need to buy Mac’s to write software for it. You are allowed to write programs that let you program in it. (On that note; is there a kids programming language – like Logo or Microworlds – available on the iPad or Android?).

        I doubt it would be available on the iPad as the iPad has rules against implementing your own programming environment in your app. I wonder if the guys behind microworlds or the old style logowriter have thought about this kind of thing.

        I started programming in logo when I was a kid (1993)! My year level was the first to have laptops at school, 386 non-active (mouse trails due to slow screen updates – not software!) black and white TFTs and windows 3.11. I don’t think the iPad would have allowed me to get the same experience.

        • My problem with iPads is their longevity. We’re heading to a point where the rollout happens in Yr 7, and ideally you want a product that will last the entire secondary schooling duration. So 6 years in total.

          I can see that 3 years into the schooling cycle, the iPads issued in Yr 7 wont hold a charge for the entire day. That becomes an issue as we rely on them more and more.

          Because apple products cant have the battery easily replaced, you’re then in a situation where students need to recharge through the day, or are behind the learning of those around them. Neither of which is a good thing.

          I dont have a problem with iPads specifically (I actually think they deliver very well for education, and that its one of their strengths), just the notorious nature of iProducts to need replacing after 3 years.

          • Depends on the requirements I guess, other than app selection (which is a very big motivator!) I still don’t see why you would choose an iPad over a notebook. And if portability is your concern you can then “downgrade” your notebook into a Transformer, which gives you your keyboard (and better typing position).

            Obviously; app selection is the decider here, but I just don’t see the ubiquity with the iPad that a transformer/netbook would provide a child to exceed the curriculum. A big part of what made me so interested in computing was what I did outside of class on my laptop, rather than inside of class.

            With the iPad, the only thing I can see occurring outside of the curriculum is media consumption. There’s no experimenting, there’s no exploration. Apple make sure its exceedingly easy to understand and *do* things. Apple also make it exceedingly difficult to try to break out of the limitations of the system.

            Ease of use is broadly a good thing, but at the expense of allowing students to tinker…ultimately flawed.

          • It’s not true that there’s no editing or experimentation — the possibilities in music, art and video are great. I concur that there’s less flexibility with regard to programming, but the vast majority of students aren’t interested, and there are many devices that do allow that. I too grew up with programming (AppleSoft Basic, LOGO, etc.) and if you liked computers in the mid-80s you did too. I don’t expect everyone to be the same today.

          • This is fundamentally why MS didn’t get the ipad until it’s possibly too late for them to respond.

            The ipad is closer in kin to a Playstation, or Xbox than it is a PC. You don’t buy those platforms to tinker, you buy because of the ecosphere of games, the network of users, and the supportability of them. They are appliances for gaming.

            The ipad is a computing appliance for applications including games. It’s lack of openness is it’s strength rather than it’s weakness.

            Laptops for schools has been a disaster because on the hardware and software front there’s more things that can and do go wrong than with an ipad.

            People look at Windows, Linux, and OSX and see systems they can tinker with, and then think that’s what they need in a phone or a tablet, but actually semi-closed Linux appliances and open linux servers are what people actually use. The majority of Andrioid phone users have barely gone beyond the browser or even the phone and sms apps. The traditional operating system clients are becoming increasingly irrelevant as long as the appliance is robust and there is network access.

            I think if you could break out from the language popularity list ( all the languages that are used for server side applications and in-browser like Javascript, I think you’d find that the vast proportion of development doesn’t require anything more than an ssh login and a text editor. The smart kids don’t take long to realise their ipad is in fact no restriction at all. Google’s Chromium wouldn’t exist if Google didn’t think so too.

            Of course the smart kids will actually move onto using Android as well because they want to differentiate themselves through customisation of their client which obviously is far better on Android than ios, but the rest will be happy with their appliance.

        • It’s not really designed for young kids but programming on an ipad is easy enough. I use python but there is:

          Maybe in a few years we’ll find a few more Android tablets in ed now that Google has released Android Jelly Bean and a competitive tablet in the Tablet 7, but realistically the problem for Google in this space is exactly the same problem that Apple had originally against MS Windows; everyone’s developing for the ipad since they have the vast majority of the market.

          • Hadn’t seen this one, it looks impressive. I am going to have to get it and give it a try.
            (it is also the kind of thing I didn’t think Apple allowed!)

          • Apple started officially allowing programming language interpreters in the iOS App store late Q3 of 2010 (they changed their SDK agreement to clarify this). However interpreters (except for Javascript in a UIWebview) are not allowed to run any downloaded code. Only code built into the app, or typed in by the user.

            This makes me both happy (interpreters allowed!) and exceedingly sad. (no sharing of code).

  2. The value add of engaging teachers and students with technology for teaching and learning, and resulting grade improvement is actually quite well proven, one of the key factors being the CPD of the teachers who need to learn quickly and understand the power of these devices for content delivery and application use.
    One only needs to look at the example of ESSA Academy in the UK who have embarked on a full Apple roll out some time ago. the grade improvement of the students has been significant.

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