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Vic touts its connected classrooms: pics

The Victorian Education Department officially opened its latest "connected classroom" on Friday with the state's Education Minister Martin Dixon doing the honours.
By Luke Hopewell, Contributor on
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1 of 6 Luke Hopewell/ZDNET

(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Each student has a Dell Latitude 2110 netbook, retrofitted for a more ergonomic design.

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2 of 6 Luke Hopewell/ZDNET

(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon talks to students and faculty about the new connected classroom that features $50,000 worth of tech, donated by Dell to the Debney Park Secondary College.

Minister Dixon indicated that in the future, he hopes that schools will lead the way in purchasing new technology like laptops and desktops based on their own specialist needs, saying that the push for new technology needs to come from schools and not the education department.

"If a school's got a strong bent towards Mac or Dell or whatever it may be … we shouldn't say 'no, you can't have that because we've got something cheaper'. You've got to trust them to make that educational decision, that business decision to weigh up what is the best for our students and run with it," he said.

"We want to move away from the top-down [management style of] this is how many computers you've got to have, this is the way you have to teach and what you've got to teach."

The minister added, however, that schools less confident in selecting their own IT will be able to choose from a panel of vendors.

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3 of 6 Luke Hopewell/ZDNET

(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

The connected classroom features an interactive whiteboard that is sensitive to touch. Here, a teacher is writing down notes on the interactive whiteboard using only touch.

Other technology in the classroom includes fast internet access, videoconferencing gear and wireless projectors.

Minister Dixon said that he would like to see confident, specialist schools use government grants to purchase tech to suit their own needs, rather than have the education department prescribe inadequate devices.

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4 of 6 Luke Hopewell/ZDNET

(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

The interactive whiteboard also comes with an extensive toolkit in both hardware and software form.

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5 of 6 Luke Hopewell/ZDNET

(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Dixon and Dell's general manager public sector for Australia and New Zealand, Bernie Kelly, helps students in their history lesson using a digital projector and Dell laptops.

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6 of 6 Luke Hopewell/ZDNET

(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Going through a history lesson on the Latitude netbook.

Students are broken up into smaller groups to make learning more effective.

"The connected classroom encourages students to be independent thinkers, more confident and versatile communicators and better navigators when it comes to seeking and sorting information," said Dixon.

Luke Hopewell travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Dell.

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