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Oz teachers lugging obsolete lappies

Victorian departmental lease terms under attack

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A change to government policy in Victoria will see teachers saddled with old and discontinued laptops under a four-year lease that they have to pay for out of their own pockets.

According to Victorian assistant principal and blogger Richard Lambert, the policy change by that state’s education department not only extends the lease period from three years to four – which Lambert says will saddle teachers with obsolete kit long before they get the option to refresh – it also inexplicably has a huge difference in lease terms for machines that retail at close to the same price.

The Lenovo ($AU799 at retail, says Lambert) is leased out at just $AU4.00 a fortnight, while a white MacBook ($AU899 at retail) leases from the department at $AU11.50 a fortnight. He says the price difference is explained by the department as accounting for one replacement battery in the Mac’s lifetime (because the longer lease period is notionally longer than the battery’s spec), the need for accessories like VGA adapters to plug the units into projectors, and the need to create a new official departmental software image for the new machine.

The problem for teachers is that in the public school system in Victoria, BYO machines are verboten: only units with the department’s approved software image (and suite of applications) are allowed, and at the same time, both policy and practice strongly encourages teachers to put classroom material online and do their marking online.

In other words, Lambert told the Sydney Morning Herald, (warning: autorun video forced on visitors to Fairfax Websites) teachers are in a bind: they must lease a machine just to do their job, they have to pay for the machines themselves, but they feel they’re being railroaded to particular choices.

“I think it's becoming more and more of an issue asking someone to pay for something they can't perform their job without,” Mr Lambert said. “I don't think any other industries would get away with that,” he told the newspaper. ®

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