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The Future Roadshow tours the Island 23 June 2008

THE Manx Telecomputer Bus – a familiar sight on the Island’s roads as it travels between schools – is throwing open its doors to the public.

The Department of Education’s single-decker bus, which is equipped with 23 of the latest Apple iMac computers, will go on tour in July, visiting Douglas, Ramsey, Port Erin and Peel and calling in at St John’s for Tynwald Day. It will also be at the two-day Royal Manx Agricultural Show at Sulby in August.

The bus is used to teach ICT skills to primary school pupils all over the Island. The Future Roadshow offers a rare chance for the public to see inside it.

Graham Kinrade, Coordinating Adviser for ICT at the Department of Education, explained:ComputerBus external

‘Three years ago we had The Future Show at the Villa Marina, which offered an ICT showcase for both primary and secondary school pupils. This was highly successful, giving parents and the wider community the opportunity to see samples of work undertaken by students in the Island’s schools. Two years on we have The Future Show Roadshow, which will deliver that opportunity to an even wider audience, bringing the latest developments to each corner of the Island.’

Alex Townsend, from the Department’s ICT division, who leads lessons on the bus, said:

‘For the past 10 years, the Manx Telecomputerbus has visited schools promoting and developing ICT with both teachers and children. The Future Roadshow offers the public an opportunity to see for themselves the software available to all primary school children on the Island and the remarkable results many of them achieve daily.’

Primary school pupils will be on board the bus at each of its ‘stops’ to show off their ICT skills.

‘We are giving primary schools a chance to be represented on the bus on this occasion as the Manx Telecomputerbus has worked mainly with primaries this year, though we are hoping to be asked to do more secondary work next year,’ Mr Townsend explained.
‘The public will be able to see primary pupils undertaking 3D modelling, sound and video recording and editing in connection with the Radio Skeet and Tell Me projects, music creation, digital photography and much more. As ever, all of this cannot be achieved without the continued investment of the Department of Education in ICT facilities in our schools, the superb effort of teachers and support staff and, of course, the children, who this is all about,’ Mr Townsend said.

Chris Hall, Managing Director of Manx Telecom, said:

‘When the Department initially approached Manx Telecom in November 1997 about the Computer Bus, I don’t think anyone could have envisaged it would be this successful. Over the past 10 years, thousands of children have benefited from it. In fact, some of the staff Manx Telecom is now recruiting received their first IT lessons on the bus when they were in primary school.
‘Manx Telecom has always been deeply committed to supporting the local community and to investing in the sort of ground-breaking technology that is one of the Island’s key strengths. We are very proud to continue to support the Manx Telecomputer Bus and indeed to have been involved in such a ground-breaking educational initiative right from the start,’ said Mr Hall.

The bus can be seen at:

East Quay, Peel Tuesday 1 July 10am-3pm

Market Square, Ramsey Wednesday 2 July 10am-3pm

The Promenade, Port Erin Thursday 3 July 10am-3pm

Tynwald Day, St John’s Monday 7 July from 9am

Harris Promenade, Douglas Tuesday 8 July 10am-3pm

Royal Manx Agricultural Show, Sulby Friday 8 August Saturday 9 August 10am-3pm

Background:

The brand new Leyland National bus – registration MAN 30N – was craned off the boat in Douglas on April 27, 1977, as part of a consignment of six ordered by Isle of Man National Transport. Numbers 28 to 33 joined 14 similar buses already in service on the Island. On December 27, 1997, the Number 30 – by then the last Leyland National in service with Isle of Man Transport – operated a final enthusiasts’ trip around the Island before it was withdrawn from service.

The Department of Education purchased the vehicle in 1998 and launched it as the Manx Telecomputer Bus following generous sponsorship from Manx Telecom and Tours Isle of Man (now Protours). In 1999 the bus was used by US database giant Oracle to secretly trial 'Codename Scoop', later launched worldwide as Think.com

That year, a dozen Year Nine students from St Ninian’s High School and Ballakermeen High School accompanied the bus when it was exhibited at London’s Earls Court in the BBC Tomorrow's World Live exhibition courtesy of Oracle. In 2003 the bus was runner-up in both the Vodaphone e-Well Being Awards, presented in the Mayor of London's Suite, and the New Statesman New Media Awards, presented by UK Education Minister Charles Clarke MP.

That September saw the original computers removed after five years’ faultless service and relocated for further use by St Ninian's High School. Twenty-three brand new G4 Apple iMacs were installed. October 2003 saw the bus nominated for an Isle of Man Newspapers and British Airways CitiExpress Pride in Mann award.

The Manx Telecomputer Bus has recently been completely repainted and refitted with the latest Apple iMacs and was re-launched by the Chief Minister, the Hon Tony Brown MHK, at a ceremony in January 2008.

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