Hartco Income Fund

Hartco Income Fund


November 21, 2008 17:36 ET

Metafore and HP Canada Sponsor Mobile Computing Project with Grade 8 Students

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 21, 2008) - Hartco Income Fund (TSX:HCI.UN)

Metafore, one of Canada's leading IT solution providers and a long-established presence in the education sector, has partnered with HP Canada to launch a mobile computing pilot project for the Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) that brings the technology out of the computer lab and directly into the classroom.

Initial results of the project, the first of its kind in Canada, were recently demonstrated when a group of students presented a series of multimedia projects (featuring text, graphics, photos, audio and video content) that they had produced entirely on their own over the previous four weeks using the new equipment.

The pilot project equipped 30 grade eight students with wireless broadband Internet access and a newly developed mini-notebook PC that was specially designed by HP for the education market. The project's objective was to enable educators and students alike to assess the benefits of working with their computers in the classroom, on field trips, or at home, instead of just in the library or computer lab.

As Metafore executive vice president and general manager David Kelly explained, the project was part of a larger research initiative undertaken by Metafore in partnership with AMDSB that began more than 18 months earlier. "The Metafore team, together with HP and other vendor partners, worked with the board to help identify new ways to address a number of IT challenges the board was faced with."

Cost was obviously an important issue. "We explored ways of making our limited IT dollars go further," said Michael Ash, AMSDB's Superintendent of Education. But there were many other considerations, he added. IT would be affected by declining student enrolment, and the need, subsequently, to close under-utilized schools and reduce operating and capital costs for the remaining ones. Having Metafore put all possible options on the table was a significant advantage. "What Metafore brings to the table is the connections and the infrastructure to talk about possibilities, and examine what you can do to solve a particular problem or meet a particular need."

Mobile computing offers greater flexibility and ease of use for students. And because a dedicated physical lab space is no longer necessary, mobile computing can help reduce expenses and lower the cost of building new schools or retrofitting existing ones. But before committing to the technology, the board wanted first-hand experience with it in one of its own schools, and this came by way of a pilot program offered through HP Canada. Says Derek Merilees, National Marketing Manager, Education, HP Canada, "By implementing the HP Mini-Note PCs, teachers will be better equipped to expand their ideas, capabilities and skills, to enrich the learning experience and to prepare themselves and their students for developing and excelling in the 21st century classroom.

For its 30-day pilot project, AMDSB selected Brookside Public School in the small rural community of Lucknow, Ontario. The project was deployed under the auspices of Jen Smith, AMDSB's manager of IT. In addition to assessing the performance and durability of the equipment, she also listened closely to the students' feedback, which in this case was virtually unanimous: "They love the immediate access to the laptops," Ms. Smith said. "They say if they have to go down to the lab to get information, they may not be able to get on the computers until the next day, and then they can't continue their projects. This way, it's instantaneous. If they need an answer for their research they can just open up their laptops, type it in, and find it."

According to Jeff Reaburn, system principal for AMDSB, another factor in the emergence of mobile computing in the classroom is its potential for greater collaboration. "One of the things we're seeing more and more in the new styles of learning that we're being encouraged to push for, is the collaboration, not just collaborating within your classroom but with students in other schools and kids around the world through the Internet. The mobility aspect really enhances their opportunities for that."

In fact, Michael Ash added, another kind of collaboration, in this case between Metafore and HP, is what brought this project to fruition. "Metafore was the conduit to make these things happen."

About Metafore

Metafore, a division of Hartco Income Fund, has over 20 years experience delivering IT solutions to private and public sector organizations of every size. With a team of more than 800 associates, operations throughout Canada, and access to a network of 1200 certified technical resources from coast to coast, Metafore is one of Canada's leading information technology solution providers. Metafore designs, supplies and installs complete IT infrastructure solutions and offers ongoing technical support and advanced professional services. For more information, please visit Metafore online at www.metafore.ca.

About Hartco Income Fund

Hartco Income Fund (TSX:HCI.UN) has been a leader in the Canadian information technology business for more than thirty years. Through its operating divisions, which together include more than 60 locations across Canada, Hartco Income Fund delivers information technology solutions to private and public sector organizations of every size.

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