Your child's new laptop has been custom-designed for school use. It's robust, compact and lightweight, and fits easily into a school bag. But don't be deceived by its size. It supports a full range of leading software, has plenty of storage and lots of memory.
The laptops are wireless enabled, which means they can be used to connect to the internet in the library, the playground and in the classroom.
Built-in security means your child can't access unauthorised internet content. Your child can also use their school laptop to access the web safely from home if you have an internet connection at home.
The laptops will be remotely monitored and managed wherever they are. What's more, a stolen laptop can be disabled and the thieves tracked and prosecuted. These safety measures protect your child by removing any incentive for theft.
Before students take their new laptops home, they'll be asked to sign the Laptop User Charter. This is an agreement that they have read and understood their responsibilities.
The charter must also be signed by parents or carers. The charter includes a commitment to take the laptop home each day and bring it back to school the next day fully charged.
If you don't sign the charter, your child will be given access to a laptop for class use only. However, you are encouraged to sign the charter. The laptop represents an effort to expand learning beyond the boundaries and schedule of school, so it's important they are used at home. Using the laptop at home will also help to include your family in your child's education.
Download the charter (Ms Word 62.5kB).
The program is committed to providing the minimum of a full time Technology Support Officer for every secondary and central school with an enrolment in Years 9 to 12 of more than 100. Schools with less than 100 students in Year 9 to 12 will be provided with a part-time Technology Support Officer, the minimum allocation being two days per week. Sharing of Technology Support Officers will be coordinated regionally. Technology Support Officers will be based in the school and report to the principal.
The program is also committed to providing additional support for Technology Support Officers at a regional level. Regional Managers along with Regional Technology Support Officers will provide coordination for the Digital Education Revolution - NSW program on a regional basis.
A full list of specifications for all laptop models can be found at Know your laptop on the Teaching and Learning exchange (TaLe).
For more details on software see:
Adobe offer free seminars on their website. Seminars in the beginner's stream last for about 60 minutes each. You can register for a live seminar at http://anzevents.adobe.com/ or do on-demand seminars at a time of your choosing at http://anzevents.adobe.com/. You can also learn at the TV Adobe site at http://tv.adobe.com/#
There is also a design centre for teachers and students at http://www.adobe.com/designcenter/ with online galleries and video tutorials, see http://www.adobe.com/designcenter/video_workshop
Encourage your child to look after their laptop. After all, it's about the most important tool they'll have in high school. Here are some tips:
Using your laptop
- Treat the laptop like you would your wallet. Don't leave it lying around. Avoid leaving it in the car, or if you must, lock it in the boot.
- Carry the laptop inside your school bag when travelling to and from school. To help prevent theft or damage, avoid using it in public.
- Be sure nothing is stacked or thrown on top of the laptop.
- Tell the school immediately if the laptop needs repairs, or is stolen, lost or damaged.
- Don't drop the laptop, get it wet, or leave it outdoors. Avoid using it with food or drink.
- Put the laptop on a solid surface if you are using it for a long time. Resting it on a pillow or other soft material might block the airflow vents and cause it to overheat.
- Use a soft cotton cloth, like a handkerchief, to clean the screen.
- Take care not to leave anything, like a pen, between the screen and the keyboard when closing the laptop.
- Recharge the battery each night. While charging, place it on a hard surface like the dining table or kitchen bench. Don't charge it near water.
- When using or charging the laptop, it's normal for the bottom of the case to get warm.
- Take care with the charger. Don't step on or yank the cord.
- Unplug the laptop if there's an electrical storm.
If you don't have the internet at home you've probably thought about getting it. But it can be a confusing experience. Ads for internet services are full of jargon like "broadband", "dialup", "ADSL" and "VoIP ". What in the world do they mean? If you're new to this or just need a refresher, take a look at the following guide to connecting the internet at home.
Your first decision is the kind of connection you want. This will depend on what services are available in your area and the level of service you think you'll need.
These days most people are opting for faster connections known as broadband. There are four types of broadband.
Your second decision is who you'll buy your internet services from. They're known as Internet Service Providers, or ISPs. There are many ISPs-see below for a list. Who you choose will depend on how you want to use the internet and who is offering the best plan in your area.
Comparing available services and ISPs can be overwhelming. However, there are some excellent online services to help you do this.
Go to the Broadband Choice ISP directory at http://bc.whirlpool.net.au/ and enter your phone number. This will give you a list of services, providers and prices.
You may want to use your telephone service provider as your ISP. If so, ask about "bundling" the services you're buying for better value. Or you can choose an ISP without changing your telephone service. Make sure you shop around to get the best deal.
You will typically purchase a plan similar to a mobile phone plan-that is a monthly cost over a period of time. Costs often depend on the duration of the contract. A long-term contract may offer lower monthly payments now but prevent you from accessing cheaper and faster services in the future.
Once you make your decision, your ISP will lead you through the payment and installation process.
Understanding your internet service
Internet services are measured in terms of the speed of access and the amount of data available for downloads. Usually they're expressed as downstream speeds and upstream speeds.
Downstream speed is the speed at which data is downloaded from the internet to your computer (like music, videos, and photos). Upstream speed is the speed at which data is uploaded from your computer to the internet (like your emails). Downstream speeds are faster than upstream speeds in most plans. This makes sense because the majority of users will want to download a lot of data from the internet but don't need to send nearly as much.
The term download doesn't just refer to the music, programs, photos and other files that you download from the internet. Every time you view a website, your computer has to download it to your computer. Every line of text, image and advertisement that makes up that page is downloaded and is counted towards your limit. This is in addition to the files and programs you download.
- Look for all costs involved including installation and setup fees. Installation cost often includes the modem and the cost of shipping the modem to you.
- A plan with a low download limit will be the cheapest, but you'll pay a price for every extra megabyte downloaded after that (often around 15c/MB). The cheapest plan upfront may not be the most cost effective in the end.
- Many ISPs offer account management on their websites. This means you can login and view your account details at any time.
- Download limits can quickly be overrun by enthusiastic teenagers. Rather than get a shock in the next bill, keep a track on your data usage by checking your account online during the month.
- Opt for an ISP who will let you change plans once you find out what your needs are. Some plans will decrease your download speed after you've reached your usage limit, instead of landing you with extra charges.
- You can get great discounts on plans if you're switching from one ISP to another or if you choose to have your home phone provided by the same supplier, so shop around.
If you don't have access to the internet at work or at a friend's house, browse the following links at your local library, community centre or internet cafe.
Getting started with broadband: http://www.dbcde.gov.au/broadband/broadband_for_consumers
Compare prices in your area:
Some popular Broadband internet service providers (ISPs) include:
AAPT phone: 135 005
Internode phone: 13 66 33
iiNet phone: 13 19 17
iPrimus phone: 131 789
Optus phone: 133 345
Telstra phone: 13 7663
TPG phone: 13 14 23
Note: This list is not exhaustive! There are many ISPs and the best one for you may not be on this list.
Dialup is a common type of internet connection for home use. These connections work well but are becoming less popular because they are comparatively slow and tie up your phone while you're using the internet.
Unlike a dialup connection, a broadband connection doesn't tie up the phone line and is always on, which means you're not making a phone call every time you want to access the internet.
What's a modem?
A modem is a small box-about the size of a novel-used to translate information from the internet to your computer. You'll need to purchase a modem to connect to the internet. A modem is typically the only significant installation cost. Usually the ISP will supply the modem and charge for it as part of the installation. You can buy one separately from an electronics shop but this can be more complicated.
What kinds of broadband are there?
The four types of broadband are:
- ADSL - uses your existing telephone line, but you can still use the phone to make and receive calls while connected to the internet at high speed. ADSL is currently the most popular kind of broadband connection for home use
- Mobile - a little like the mobile phone network, a wireless modem connects to your computer and communicates with the closest transmitter.
- Cable - the fastest and most expensive form of broadband. It comes to your home through a separate wire, or can share your cable TV connection if you have one.
- Satellite - used in rural areas when no other connection is available. The internet connection is made via a satellite dish connected to the home. Satellite connections can sometimes be high-speed in only one direction.
As a parent it can be daunting keeping up with new technologies, but help is at hand.
Click, our technology guide for parents, is available online: http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/click
For parents who want to develop their computer skills, TAFE NSW offers a range of short courses, for beginners through to advanced users. Courses are also run through Community Colleges NSW and the Centre for Continuing Education. Visit the following links for more details:
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