By Sean Richards

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It’s public knowledge now that the Victorian Government’s Ultranet project suffered more than a few bumps through it’s short existence and what’s now apparent is that it is approaching the end of it’s shelf life.

Albeit disappointing that this project didn’t achieve a long term solution for the tax payer’s dollars it cost Victorian’s, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for both Victorian schools and the parents and families that depend on them.

Inadequate planning, cost blowouts and failed tenders all culminating in the cost growing from $60 million to $180 million1, these issues are really just the tip of why Victoria’s Ultranet has really failed.

The real failure is that usage of the system has been spiraling downward since its launch, with current statistics suggesting less than 4% of the intended 1.5 million teachers, parents and students actually using the system2. This would suggest a solution that is simply not user friendly and has not delivered the functionality and features that schools and their communities actually need from a solution.

Well Victoria and Australia, don’t despair. We spoke directly with the Ultranet and Digital Learning team at DEECD who indicated that schools are now being instructed to act autonomously and look to the private sector for solutions.

This was fantastic news for Schoolbox as it appears this will open an opportunity for our company to work closely with Victorian government schools to support their digital learning requirements with our web based software.

Apparently, the latest news suggests that NEC has agreed to support individual schools after this six month extension, but they will have to pay for this themselves. So one must question, if schools are going to have to pay for a solution, why would they choose the solution that has so obviously let them down since it’s initial roll out.

What about the funding? That’s exactly what we are wondering. How does the Victorian Government plan to support and fund schools to select and pay for the software and digital solutions they need? The Government obviously sees the need for the solutions, which is why they originally tried to deliver it through the Ultranet.

Given that a solution (albeit a canned one) is no longer being provided, will the Victorian Government look to allocate budgets to schools to fund their own software and hardware infrastructure costs?

Can Victorian Government schools use Schoolbox? Interesting question.

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and in this case, maybe one school at a time our company can help bring Australia’s public schools into the future of digital teaching and learning through Schoolbox.

We’re very proud to announce that Schoolbox has been selected by one of Melbourne’s leading secondary schools, Northcote High School to manage and deploy Schoolbox to their approximately 1540+ students, 150+ staff and 2400 parents.

In what is sure to be a successful project, we will be working with Northcote High School to integrate with their existing solutions and environment to provide one central online destination for all their users on any device, anywhere and at any time.

And for the rest of Australia, we highly recommend you take a look at our rapidly growing customer base and check out Schoolbox to see just how easy it is to bring your school online with a solution that actually delivers all the Ultranet promised it would. Then get in touch with us as we would love to hear from you.

References
1
http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/government-it/ultranet-ultimatum-schools-told-pay-up-or-lose-it-20130628-hv0kl.html
2
http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/government-it/ultranet-ultimatum-schools-told-pay-up-or-lose-it-20130628-hv0kl.html