Unlike the other States and Territories which have largelyleft the decision of how to spend their portion of the Rudd Government's $442 million Digital Education Revolution budget to individual schools, NSW took the approach of providing every Year 9 student with their own Lenovo netbook running Windows 7. All the current Year 10 government high school students were provided with a netbook last year.
If they complete their education through to Year 12, the machines will be unlocked from the Department of Education and Training network, and gifted to them at the end of 2012. Today at Kogarah High School in Sydney's south, the NSW Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth and Yang will hand over the first of this year's crop of netbooks to current Year 9 students.
The State's public high schools hope to have this year's batch of machines available by the end of Term One. Besides being blue, this year's crop of machines feature the latest Intel Atom processor, a higher resolution screen, larger spill-resistant keyboard, improved battery life and what the schools are referring to as 'airbag technology' to protect the computers' hard drive.
Although last year's machines came with a plastic protective case, many schools have encouraged students to invest in padded sleeves or bags to further protect the computers.
Trumpeted by Lenovo as the single biggest educational netbook rollout anywhere in the world the machines have met with a mixed reception among students.
While the machines have proved excellent for watching films, some students complain that the machines are relatively slow and the keyboards clumsy. And, although students lug the machines to school each day, only a fraction of teachers have yet integrated their use in lesson plans.
The millenials also remain peeved that since they access the internet via the DET portal, which blocks access to many sites, they can't use the computers for social networking out of school hours.