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.