The Digital Education Revolution (DER) faced significant challenges in Tasmania because of its distributed regional population. This geographic distribution of settlement has made it necessary to base Year 11/12 education in urban centres, with most high schools configured for schooling in Years 7-10. Therefore the Year 9-12 DER funding has been diluted in high schools to support Years 7-8, outside the scope of the policy intention.
In addressing this challenge, two Tasmanian high schools have adopted different strategies to introduce, maintain and integrate 1 to 1 computing.
The first school, which was involved in a research project (AlwaysOn from 2006-8), took a strategic and informed decision to provide netbooks to all students in 2008 (prior to DER). These netbooks have subsequently percolated through the entire school and are used in all curriculum areas. Some deviations from the school-based provision have varied the policy in recent years, but in the main there is a great deal of commonality between the devices students use, and central support is provided for these machines.
The second school saw the potential in user-owned equipment at an early stage, and negotiated administrative hurdles. These related to the security of the equipment (and potential breakages) and access to the institutional wireless network. Students can now bring their smartphones, netbooks, tablets and laptops to school, making judicious use of connectivity and printing facilities. This approach is more complex to engender, and the benefits of student ownership are somewhat diluted by patchy capabilities in individual classrooms.
Both schools were visited to gather data through questionnaires, observations and interviews. This paper will illustrate the differences and commonalities between these two schools, showing the decision-making around ‘all the same’ and ‘Bring Your Own (BYO)’ policies. The learnings from these schools inform future practice and link with emerging trends emerging from related studies in other Australian and UK schools.