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The Age

Schools' Ultranet a failure

Date: 29/06/2013
Words: 245
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: News
Page: 3
The Victorian government's failed $180 million schools IT experiment - intended to transform the way students learn - will end on December 31, with schools forced to pay if they wish to continue using the Ultranet next year.

The Education Department has signed a $2.8 million contract with NEC to continue to provide the troubled intranet for another six months to give schools time to plan.

Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon said the Ultranet - promised by the former government in the lead-up to the 2006 state election - had been a "dreadful waste of money", blowing out to three times its original budget.

It is used by only 4 per cent of the intended 1.5 million teachers, parents and students.

Many teachers said it was clunky and slow and did not reflect real online experiences. They said other software was easier to use and more flexible.

"I think the time has come to put it out of its misery humanely," Mr Dixon said. "The department's role is to provide options and advice and allow schools to choose a system that suits their need."

Australian Education Union state president Meredith Peace said she was disappointed schools would be asked to pay from next year if they wanted to use the Ultranet to communicate with parents.

"This will create real problems, particularly for smaller schools," Ms Peace said.

A scathing Victorian Auditor-General's report late last year found the Ultranet had failed to deliver the promised benefits and had been shunned by schools.


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