Northern Ireland invests further €28 million in Classroom 2000

3 Nov 2009

The breath-taking speed of roll out of technology in Northern Ireland schools continues apace with news that HP has been awarded a contract valued at €28 million to extend its work in the groundbreaking Classroom 2000 (C2k) initiative.

The contract, which was awarded by the Western Education and Library Board, will see HP’s involvement in the C2k project extend from five to seven years as part of the provision of a managed service.

One adaptive infrastructure

HP will continue to provide Northern Ireland with a single adaptive infrastructure, email and online Managed Learning Environment, connecting in excess of 300,000 children in 1,100 schools.

This will include a range of services, from the provision of email hosting, help-desk services, and video-conferencing services to a virtual learning environment for school children known as Learning NI.

HP will be providing a number of additional services as part of the contract, including optimisation of its Wide Area Network (WAN) to handle the increasing usage of C2k’s services.

One of the biggest online education systems

Jimmy Stewart, director of C2k, the public-sector body tasked on behalf of the five education and library boards with the delivery of education-technology services to schools in Northern Ireland, described HP’s work in developing one of the largest online education systems in the world as a monumental development in the way education is delivered in local schools.

“HP has worked in partnership with C2k to deliver a world-class solution which has evolved and developed with the changing needs of schools, sophistication of users, and developments in ICT,” said Stewart.

“As a result, C2k service continues to grow and adapt to pupil, teacher and administrator needs as requirements evolve, resulting in a personalised, responsive and interactive experience for all. The extension of this contract reflects the expertise and capabilities of HP’s delivery team and includes the addition of a range of network efficiencies which will provide value for money for the Department of Education.”

Well received

The success of C2k is evident by the fact it has been embraced by both teachers and school children.

C2k now reaches every pupil and teacher across Northern Ireland’s schools with some 9 million school-related emails being processed per month, as well as collaborative learning projects between schools in Northern Ireland and schools as far away as Japan being common place.

“HP and C2k continue to work in partnership to develop and provide a world-leading adaptive infrastructure for education, which to date has delivered impressive results,” said Martin Murphy, managing director of HP in Ireland.

“Every child in Northern Ireland now has access to technology-rich resources in their classroom and every teacher has access to their own laptop and tools to enable them to share resources online.

“We’ve seen how schools using C2k video-conferencing facilities now collaborate locally and across the globe and how technology is transforming how children are taught and learn, providing an enriched education experience. All of these elements delivered by C2k help equip children with the necessary skills and know-how for a 21st-century digital economy,” Murphy said.

HP will be working with a number of worldwide suppliers and specialist local companies as part of the contract extension, such as Belfast-based Replify, who will provide network-performance improvements for 900 primary schools in Northern Ireland.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Martin Murphy, managing director of HP in Ireland (left), joins Jimmy Stewart, director of C2k, to announce a multi-million euro contract to provide managed services to C2k for the next two years.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years