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Friday, March 03, 2006

I can see a 2MB school from your window

This morning I visited two schools that were (or, lets face it ‘are’) having difficulty with newly installed SMART Boards. One of these schools has made a terrific investment and has a system installed in each of their teaching areas. I was almost on the verge of asking for a job! The problem turned out to be a Java one – they needed an update in order to use the Notebook application. No problem thought I – I’ll just download the update (26MB) and be on my way. 5 minutes into the download it estimated another 6 hours 42 minutes remaining for the download to be complete. 10 minutes into the download it hung up. One of the teachers on realising my frustration suggested we open the concertina door to the neighbouring teaching area as one of the technical staff had recommended they do this if the network connection speed was slow (Don’t even start me on this one). I politely informed them that if they wanted to check the wireless signal strength, all they needed to do was look at the indicator on the screen (all the bars were lit up) and that this wasn’t actually the problem we were facing. I apologised (yet again) for something that actually wasn’t remotely my fault to the Head Teacher, and offered them two possible solutions to their problem.

So there we have a school, completely kitted out to be making excellent use of technology but their hands are tied behind their backs. Sure, they can make great use of stand alone applications and CDs, but there is no point even trying to make use of the net. I can’t begin to describe their frustration, and I take my hat off to their patience and professionalism.

When I got back to the office late afternoon, curiosity got the better of me. Now those of you that know me know that arithmetic isn’t my strong point, but here goes. 6 hours 42 minutes to download 26MB – that works out to be 1.08KB per second – not even funny, is it? To make matters even worse I could see a 2MB school out of the window.


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