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Frankston High School reinvents the classroom with tough Toshiba Tablet PCs

CASE STUDY:
Frankston High School reinvents the classroom with tough Toshiba Tablet PCs



Since 1995, Frankston High School has pioneered the use of notebook and Tablet PCs in education. Today, it has the largest portable computing program of any Australian public school and continues to push the boundaries with long-term partner Toshiba.

Key points
· Frankston High School has pioneered use of notebook PCs in the public school system (with Toshiba).
· Strong focus on integrating technology with curricula and supporting teachers.
· Recently introduced Toshiba Portégé Tablet PCs to expand learning possibilities.

Challenge
Frankston High School provides education to approximately 1,650 students. It is among the few publicly funded Australian schools with programs encouraging students to use notebook computers in all classrooms and subjects.

Located in an outer suburban area of Melbourne with average incomes, it needs to provide notebooks to students in a way that makes the most of new technology while supporting the state curriculum, remaining affordable to parents and meeting students’ needs for machines that are durable, portable and easy to use.

Solution
Since starting its notebook program with Toshiba in 1995, the school has formed a long-term partnership with Toshiba Australia Pty Ltd and educational partner, Computelec, for the supply of customised computers, warranty plans and educational expertise. These computers are used by about 650 students aged from 12 to 16 each year. The notebook program is not compulsory, but around half of new students starting school in Year 7 sign up – showing the value that parents and the local community perceive.

“We wanted to take our school to the next level in terms of what we could offer students,” says Travis Smith, Assistant Principal at Frankston High School. “We’re not just educating them for Year 12 exams, but a life beyond.”

In 2006, the school extended the program to include Toshiba Portégé tablet PCs, giving students a pen interface and touch screens. These are ideal for course material such as writing script in Japanese or solving maths problems by writing on digital paper.

“In art classes, we use an amazing program called ArtRage 2 that lets students do artwork including painting, airbrushing and sketching straight onto the screen” says Smith. “The pressure sensitive screen means they can do heavy or light strokes – it opens up a whole new opportunity.”

Teaching support
Frankston High School has also led the way in ensuring there is genuine integration between computing and the curriculum, and that its 150-strong teaching and administrative staff are well supported when it comes to using the technology in the classroom.

“The reason our notebook program is successful and still running in a government school is that our focus is 100 per cent on the curriculum, not on bits and bytes,” Smith says. “Anyone can put a CD-ROM into a computer and say: ‘Watch this animation kids’. But when students have their own laptops, you need a different strategy,” says Smith.

Frankston High School also participates in Toshiba’s Learning Technologies Support Group, a forum where leading educational technology users from Australia and New Zealand can come together to critique current machines, develop specifications for the coming year and share ideas.

Security, safety and durability
Toshiba’s long experience in the Australian Education market (since 1990) confirms that the school environment is amongst the toughest for computing equipment, with students dealing out unusually rough treatment. The computers must also be practical for students to use, such as ensuring that they are light enough for young students to carry to and from school. At the same time, the computers must have all the features for a computer educational experience, which are automatically built-in to Toshiba notebooks.

Toshiba has completed extensive research into how notebooks are used in schools. Its top priorities are that its computers are durable, safe and secure. This ensures students’ educations are not disrupted by equipment failures and reduces support time and costs for schools.

“We’re not willing to put in a cheaper, less reliable product,” says Smith. “Toshiba machines are extremely robust. The Portégé M400 tablet that we bought in 2007 with our Year 7s has proven to be the strongest laptop we’ve seen since 1995 in terms of the number of repairs needed.”

Plans
Frankston High School is continuing to explore innovative ways to use technology to maximise learning outcomes and prepare students for life.

In the long run, Smith says that Frankston would like to see students’ Year 12 assessments done on computer instead of having to complete them by hand, and concludes that the continued investment in tablet technology is overwhelmingly justified by the continued support of students and parents.

About Toshiba:

Toshiba’s Information Systems Division (ISD) is a division of Toshiba (Australia) Pty Limited which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation, the seventh largest integrated manufacturer of electric and electronic equipment, with around 191,000 employees worldwide, and annual sales of over A$73billion on a consolidated basis. Toshiba is the leader in the Australian notebook market, with 21.6% of the market in calendar year in 2006 (IDC) remaining as leader both in market share and revenue.

Unique among vendors, Toshiba ISD specialises exclusively in mobile solutions and services. A global reputation for quality has been achieved through an R&D budget, roughly equal to Australia’s total expenditure as a country in this area. Toshiba ISD extended its business in 2007 to include Toshiba’s audio visual (AV) products. This expansion is a consolidation of the company’s IT and AV technology offerings and drives Toshiba Corporation to be a key player in the Australian computing and home entertainment market.

Instrumental in the DVD revolution, Toshiba Corporation now introduces its HD DVD format, offering incredible image quality and realism where sound and pictures come to life. Continuing its commitment to innovation and market leadership, Toshiba is providing Australians with the next generation of High Definition products.

Since it pioneered the notebook market in 1985, Toshiba ISD has sold more than 1.75 million notebooks in Australia and New Zealand and in 2006 celebrated its 21st anniversary of providing market leading mobile computing solutions. Toshiba’s Virtual Pressroom: www.isd.toshiba.com.au

Toshiba now also offers customers two notebook recycling and recovery programs: e-CYCLE and Technology Refresh. These programs provide for the responsible and professional disposal of Notebooks, and can help some customers recover value from equipment that has reached the end of its life. For more information, please visit: http://www.isd.toshiba.com.au/environment/ecycle_business.html

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