Auckland’s Saint Kentigern College has chosen a new partner to supply its students with Toshiba laptops this year.
The college, one of the country’s top private schools, requires each student to own their own laptop for class work, research and homework.
This year, it has awarded the contract to supply 450 specially configured Portégé M500e laptops ultra portable laptops to its students to specialist education reseller Edtech.
The contract had been held by Portables Plus for the past 10 years, although its sister company Service Plus retains its contract to service the school’s entire suite of more than 1800 Toshiba laptops.
St Kentigern negotiates the contract for the supply of the laptops directly with Toshiba, as part of the vendor’s Student Notebook Access Programme (SNAP), in which it has participated for the past 14 years.
However, the machines are supplied and supported by channel partners selected by the school.
Edtech national sales and marketing manager Steve Ford says its existing relationship with St Kentigern and a thorough understanding of the education market helped it win the contract.
“We have a very good and existing relationship with the college and an understanding of the dynamics involved in the education market.”
Ford says he has maintained a close relationship with St Kentigern that he developed in his former role as Toshiba country manager, while Edtech has done some work with the college in the past.
He adds Edtech has worked in a “true partnership” with the college to ensure the needs of the college, parents and students are met.
“Being able to work with the college to deliver that has put us in a position to win the contract.”
Walter Chieng director of ICT at St Kentigern College says Edtech was selected as it was able to provide better value to the school at this time.
“Edtech brings a few more things to the table. They deal with many schools already and have a big team of engineers.”
Although St Kentigern has so far always chosen Toshiba notebooks, it still evaluates other offerings each year, says Chieng.
“We keep a very close eye on what is happening out in the market. We assess the products and keep ourselves aware of the other brands. Each year Toshiba stands out clearly as the right vendor for taking our students’ learning to another level.”
Toshiba understands the education market very well, adds Chieng.
“For us learning is the key outcome and Toshiba believes it too. They understand it is not just dropping boxes, but about delivering everything that needs to be in place to serve a programme of this size.”
Toshiba offers the laptops at a special bulk price, even though parents pay for the machines individually.
“We have very special pricing for St Kentigern, which is better than the market price,” says Toshiba country manager Gary Wicks.
The laptops supplied to the school have been customised to withstand the rigours of school use, by being more rugged than standard models, says Wicks. “They are also lightweight at under 2kg, which is great for students.”
In addition, the laptops are sold with STM Armourbag protective carrycases.
Each machine is loaded with a standard St Kentigern image and features curriculum-specific software. They are configured for access to the school’s wireless network, which is one of the largest in the country.
This year all the machines will be shipped with the Windows Vista operating system, while St Kentigern is upgrading last year’s laptops to Vista from XP.
Wicks says few local schools provide student notebook programmes such as St Kentigern’s, with mostly private schools offering such schemes. “We would love to see more. If other schools want to roll out student programmes, we will be there.”