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Australian Government Backs OLPC

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the they-even-work-upside-down dept.

Australia 60

angry tapir writes "One Laptop Per Child Australia had a win in the recent Australian budget, receiving federal government funding for the first time. OLPC Australia will benefit from $11.7 million of funding, which will be used to purchase 50,000 laptops to distribute to students. The organization recently launched a new initiative that builds an educational ecosystem around the laptops, to help integrate them into the learning process."

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Gamemaker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938395)

Anybody that makes a first post about Gamemaker is a nigger.

Re:Gamemaker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938487)

Wow. So we've now moved into meta-gamemaker posts.

Re:Gamemaker (-1, Offtopic)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938785)

You don't have any mods, but I'm meta-modding you up in my mind.

PR Stunt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938403)

Trying to make us forget about their ACMA filter.

what? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938407)

that's around $234 a piece, for that amount you can get a netbook with better specs compared to olpc

Re:what? (2)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938419)

you missed the "educational ecosystem" Which I assume to mean "actually helpful software"

Re:what? (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938457)

And something akin to an app store to purchase more software and books that are not included in the standard issue.

Re:what? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39950805)

so these OLPC's will all come with Windows 7?

Re:what? (4, Informative)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938475)

So you could get a cheaper computer. Then what? You need them configured, a support structure, additional software etc. All that costs money. You can't just take the experience of someone buying a computer for themselves and translate it to the needs of the government buying 50,000 units.

Like you, I did the calculations and was frankly surprised at how cheap it worked out to be.

Re:what? (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939263)

that's around $234 a piece, for that amount you can get a netbook with better specs compared to olpc

I thought the same thing, but they have a program where the children learn how to replace motherboards and LCDs in the olpc. [techworld.com.au] . Can't do that with a dell netbook, and I'm sure the kids appreciate them more when they realize they'll have to replace the screen themselves if they slam it against a wall. Besides an olpc is a bit more robust than a walmart netbook, I'd compare it more to a toughbook [google.com] then a normal netbook and you can't buy a new toughbook for anywhere near $200

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939465)

that's around $234 a piece, for that amount you can get a netbook with better specs compared to olpc

Thats how MS explains it's taxes. They don't mention it it just start of taxes.

Re:what? (1)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939475)

that's around $234 a piece, for that amount you can get a netbook with better specs compared to olpc

Higher spec netbooks cost a bit more than that in Oz.

Re:what? use OLPC to teach repair? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939717)

Using an OLPC to teach repair is just so flat out stupid I could spit. Teaching a student how to take apart and put together a specific laptop (keyboard, screen, case, mainboard) that has all of the complexity of an eight piece lego set is pointless. Better off, collect random broken toasters, provide tools, and challenge the students to put together one that can toast bread.

Re:what? use OLPC to teach repair? (1)

houseofzeus (836938) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940781)

The point is not to teach computer repair per se, but to ensure that users are able to repair their OLPC and thus save maintenance costs for the program as they don't have to sent someone out.

Re:what? use OLPC to teach repair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39943913)

Repair to a $250 laptop is not an issue. They are disposable. These kids will be constantly punching the monkey and getting infected with all sorts of spyware, malware, and virii. Now, therein lies the real problem. Try to keep up with that.

Re:what? use OLPC to teach repair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39944051)

Disregard. Didn't realize these things had Fedora on them :) They can probably punch more monkies than they can shake a stick at and not get too infected.

A good thing (4, Funny)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938447)

This is exactly what the OLPC was made for - distribution in third world countries!

But seriously, it always makes me angry when I see the notebook computers that some schools force their students to use. Big heavy 15" models are stupid to be carried every single day even by adults, let alone small children. You would think that inexpensive, small netbooks should be a no-brainer.

Re:A good thing (2)

dark12222000 (1076451) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938489)

Your core point here is fair enough, and I agree with it, but there are a lot of factors you aren't considering.

Notebooks tend to have much more power, are much easier to work with, and have CD/DVD drives. Netbooks don't.

Now, I loved my netbook for years, but most educational software is still disc based, and a lot of educational software is a bit bloated and requires a bit of horsepower. When you look at math and graphing tools, the need for power is even more important.

Also, most major computer companies are more familiar with, and more likely to, sell 5000 notebooks then 5000 netbooks simply because they're used to large orders of notebooks for enterprise clients. Enterprise clients don't use netbooks. If you're an educational entity bulk buying computers, you're likely to get a steeper discount on notebooks then netbooks (since netbooks have a pretty low profit margin as is), and you may find notebooks to actually be cheaper per unit - plus, much more customizable then netbooks.

Re:A good thing (4, Informative)

duk242 (1412949) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938509)

As an IT guy for a school, CD Drives are completely unnecessary in student laptops/netbooks. While most software publishers send the software to us on CD, I rip it off the CD and package it into an app that'll run fine on the computer (usually there's no copy protection to worry about) then it's just as simple as rolling it out over the network.

Re:A good thing (1)

dark12222000 (1076451) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938521)

You're a good man for being willing to do that, but if you're in the US, you may be in violation of the DMCA. Educational publishers can, and will, get extremely pissed off at such things in my experience.

Re:A good thing (2)

duk242 (1412949) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938607)

Oh, we always do it with the permission of the publishers. We always buy X number of licences and they allow us to install it on X number of machines in the school, there's no trickery here :P

Re:A good thing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938781)

My wife gets extremely pissed when I grope her tit. Will I keep doing it? Yes I will.

Re:A good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39942545)

My wife gets extremely pissed when I grope her tit. Will I keep doing it? Yes I will.

Me too!

Re:A good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938519)

When you look at math and graphing tools, the need for power is even more important.

No

Re:A good thing (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938549)

Notebooks tend to have much more power, are much easier to work with, and have CD/DVD drives. Netbooks don't.

The student laptops that I have seen didn't really have much non-standard software (non-office products). The education software that it did have did not require a CD to install. I know this because I was given the software to install on the mother's work computer, to which I said to go get stuffed! Remember the schools get to dictate which software is used. If it doesn't work on their school mandated computers then they will choose other software.

As for not being powerful enough, I just finished playing the original Call of Duty on my netbook. I had to lower some of the settings to get a good framerate, but it worked fine after that. Netbooks are not as completely useless as some have claimed.

you may find notebooks to actually be cheaper per unit

It is true that the netbook market has been hit by the cheaper notebook computer prices. But it is not just about price. My original post was that the size is a bigger factor for the small kids who have to carry the units with them and who tend not to own their own cars.

Re:A good thing (1)

jaminJay (1198469) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938895)

The software is contained on the device, you don't need external inputs. The software is designed to operate within the system, you don't need more grunt.

Re:A good thing (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939347)

Now, I loved my netbook for years, but most educational software is still disc based, and a lot of educational software is a bit bloated and requires a bit of horsepower. When you look at math and graphing tools, the need for power is even more important.

Math and graphing? You do realize that a TI-89 has 16mhz and 256 kbyte RAM, right? [wikipedia.org] . I think any modern CPU can handle math and graphing.

Honestly the laptops they sell now are far more powerful than what we need 99% of the time since all most people want is a browser.

Re:A good thing (1)

dark12222000 (1076451) | more than 2 years ago | (#39944203)

You've never even opened Matlab or any other modern math suite, have you?

Re:A good thing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938495)

I see you're not familiar with the laptops the Australian government foisted onto students a few years ago - cheap 10" netbooks which were too slow to be useful the day they were built.

Now the batteries are shot, they're falling apart, and they haven't gotten any faster...

Re:A good thing (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938577)

I see you're not familiar with the laptops the Australian government foisted onto students a few years ago - cheap 10" netbooks which were too slow to be useful the day they were built.

It is true that I am not familiar with them, because they didn't seem to make it to the students that I know. They all had big-arse laptops.

Now the batteries are shot, they're falling apart, and they haven't gotten any faster...

They don't need to last too long. That's the point of cheap, disposable computers. As to them not getting faster, why would they?

Re:A good thing (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938589)

Heh. You may joke but there's considerable poverty in some of the more remote communities in Oz, this could be a considerable educational boost to some of the deprived, rural towns I passed through on my travels here a couple of years back.

Re:A good thing (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938817)

This is exactly what the OLPC was made for - distribution in third world countries!

This is an insult to Australia and will punished by a good kicking in the butt. Be glad you didn't question the water rotation in the local toilets. The last time that happened the US embassy had to be evacuated.

Re:A good thing (2)

stepho-wrs (2603473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939089)

s/in the butt/up the arse/

Re:A good thing (1)

qxcv (2422318) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938941)

But seriously, it always makes me angry when I see the notebook computers that some schools force their students to use. Big heavy 15" models are stupid to be carried every single day even by adults, let alone small children. You would think that inexpensive, small netbooks should be a no-brainer.

Netbooks are out of the question because they are almost impossible to work with on a day-to-day basis (particularly for students with vision problems). That only leaves small, inexpensive laptops, which as I understand it don't exist yet. Ideally you'd be looking at a 12-13" laptop, but they're too damn expensive when you put them up against the 15-17" monsters. To be honest a 15" laptop isn't that big a deal, I have one sitting on my desk which is approximately 1.2kg with the battery in, vs. 1.1kg for an average size maths textbook. Hell, I've got a soft-cover physics textbook which is 2.1kg, and a couple of hard-covers which are presumably much heavier.
 
Oh yeah, and just for the record here is an approximate cost breakdown of current secondary laptops in Australia (figures given to me by a tech guy from a high school):
  Hardware: $1500
  Software: $1500
 
To be fair, that is for a Dell machine rather than the Acer which the State Government were pushing, but in any case the OLPC reduces hardware cost to $234 and software cost to $0.

Re:A good thing (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939763)

To be honest a 15" laptop isn't that big a deal, I have one sitting on my desk which is approximately 1.2kg with the battery in, vs. 1.1kg for an average size maths textbook.

That must one hell of a 15" laptop you have there, in fact, it's so good that I strongly suspect that its from the future. Seriously which make/model is it?

The Asus UX21 is a 1.1Kg ultrabook with a 11.6" screen, and costs clear of $1000. It's almost identical to the 11 inch Maxbook Air in everything (including price) but is marginally faster and has a larger SSD. Other ultrabooks are similar, with the 14" ones edging towards 1.8kg.

The only larger laptop of a comparable weight is the 13" Sony Viao which is made of carbon fiber and is significantly more expensive.

Re:Aboriginal communities 3rd World (2)

mathew42 (2475458) | more than 2 years ago | (#39941129)

Unfortunately and shamefully many Aboriginal Communities in the outback have health and other standards that are 3rd world.

Here are a couple of links:
* http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/304648/olpc_boosts_outback_education_laptop_deployment/ [computerworld.com.au] (2012)
* http://www.itnews.com.au/News/300029,indigenous-communities-get-olpc-boost.aspx [itnews.com.au] (2009)
And some research by Gina Milgate [acer.edu.au] to put it into context.

knowing is half the battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938493)

My sister in-law (14) got a free macbook (200-300$ value) from her school, all she does is use it for facebook and leaves it at home everyday. Not sure if she's just the exception or norm...

Re:knowing is half the battle (2)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938773)

Once you hand out a computer to everybody, you can expect them to use it. You can start sending assignments per email, or require the to do online research without having to first check if every time if all your pupils have access to a computer.

Re:knowing is half the battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939289)

"Once you hand out a computer to everybody, you can expect them to use it."
Yep, and you can surely expect them to have to buy/subscribe access to the internet, or will they only have internet access at school?
Great deal, from the business point of view of the ISPs... and a great way to improve internet access statistics.

Re:knowing is half the battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940005)

Once you hand out a computer to everybody, you can expect them to use it. You can start sending assignments per email, or require the to do online research without having to first check if every time if all your pupils have access to a computer.

No, you cannot. I teach in a low-income district that bought every secondary student a laptop. 1 year later--ONE SINGLE YEAR--they do not exist as far as I'm concerned. If I do ANYTHING that assumes the students still have them, I can figure on a less than a 25% participation rate. They were an absolute waste of money. We could have put a class set of laptops in every room for marginally more money (peripheral overhead), and those would still exist. The laptops given to students were largely broken, stolen, or pawned. Give a family that makes 5 grand a year because the dad is a meth addict and the mom is a compulsive gambler (this is just one of the stories I've heard from students) hardware worth (figure 2-3 kids per family, even low end laptops add up) $500 at the pawn shop and what do you think will happen?

The basic reality that most people chasing this pipe dream don't get is that these kids (the ones who would actually benefit from such a program because they don't have computers at home already) do not have the skills to take care of an expensive piece of equipment like a laptop--this is NOT the kids' faults, obviously, but it is the reality we have to deal with. They have never had the opportunity before to learn how to take care of this kind of equipment (and if they have, they don't need free laptops from the school because they have their own). Just handing laptops out to every student is pouring money down the drain. Should every student have access to computers on a regular (and even unsupervised basis)? Yes. But not as the first step. There has to be scaffolding until the students have learned how to take care of a piece of expensive equipment like a laptop.

Re:knowing is half the battle (1)

dontclapthrowmoney (1534613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940741)

Give a family that makes 5 grand a year because the dad is a meth addict and the mom is a compulsive gambler (this is just one of the stories I've heard from students) hardware worth (figure 2-3 kids per family, even low end laptops add up) $500 at the pawn shop and what do you think will happen?

I was thinking along the lines of other posters that I'd spend the money on standard hardware instead of a OLPC device, until I read your comment.

I do agree with your comments (and others) who have said that simply handing out laptops to everyone isn't a magic cure, it does seem worth pointing out that going for OLPC rather than something you'd get at a local computer store will help mitigate the risk of the devices being sold off or disappearing because a OLPC device isn't going to be worth anything like $500 at the local pawn broker. And the low purchase price would make replacing lost devices (slightly) easier.

Yes, meth addicts would still pawn it for the $20 they'd get instead, but that scenario is very close to one end of the bell curve. Other struggling families that would pawn it for $500 (because that would feed them for a month) aren't going to pawn it for $20.

Re:knowing is half the battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39941427)

Also if it's one recognozable model that isn't a common consumer model you can put a "call this number if pawned" sticker (or better yet get it engraved) on the things and have a reasonable chance of recovering the unit (my school did this with the school issue TI calculators).

Then the school can get the unit back for cheap ($20 to pay off the pawn shop vs $200 for the new laptop), and they can disciplined the student who was responsible for the unit. This becomes a valuable tool for teaching students how to take care of critical infrastructure that they've been entrusted with.

Thinkpads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938505)

Students in Australia already get Thinkpads, or at least, a certain number of them did. I have no idea what they're thinking introducing OLPC now.

"Australian Government Backs OLPC" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938561)

That should just about kill it.

Re:"Australian Government Backs OLPC" (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939159)

Well it's a token effort, being about 1% of the $1.5B surplus for which the government is budgeting.

Still, it's a tax deduction for those who'd channel money into the noble cause of the education of Aboriginal children.

In perspective, the current cyncism is that the government is vote-bribing parents of teenage children to the tune of $820. Hence buying an OLPC for a few kids in the bush is comparative pocket change.

OLPC failure (1)

feedayeen (1322473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938631)

The goal of OLPC was to produce a sub-hundred dollar netbook to be distributed to the poor at a price point where charity is possible. This a $234 dollar laptop. Not only is this greater than the $100 goldilocks price point, but their for profit competitors are now cheaper!

Re:OLPC failure (2, Informative)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938751)

The price is probably not just the hardware but also some sort of supporting infrastructure as well.

Laptop become an important part of our life (-1, Offtopic)

Viview (2625473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39938743)

With the rapid development of economy, the improvement of science and technology, all kinds of multi-function electronic products is more and more.The electronic products is widely popular in the market,as laptop computers, flat computers, mobile phones, digital camera, video camera, portable DVD, PDA, MP3, MP4, GPS etc. Laptop become an important part of our life . http://www.mobilepowermall.com/ [mobilepowermall.com]

The OLPC Microsoft entanglement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39938847)

How deep is it exactly?

Laptops is it 2005 still ? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939011)

Laptop ? what is it 2005 still hasn't everyone moved on to tablets/slates as their primary device ? 1. tablets are cheaper (? I haven't got anything to back this up with) 2. they are lighter (fact) 3. they tend to have GPS, so you track the little buggers... 4. you don't have to deal with an annoying trackpad/mouse or other peripherals... 5. did I mention that they were lighter ? 6. battery power... 7. has facebook, and other distractions 8. it's "cooler" 9. they can't access pr0n (if it is an ipad) since it doesn't support flash well... that is all.

Re:Laptops is it 2005 still ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39939295)

9. they can't access pr0n (if it is an ipad) since it doesn't support flash

1 - They wouldn't be ipads. When looking for the cheap option, you don't go to apple.
2 - Why would "no flash" mean "no porn"?

Re:Laptops is it 2005 still ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39947675)

unless sites are on h.264, majority run movies through flash. You do realise pr0n movies are better than pictures, which in turn are better than ascii generated anime didn't you ?

Re:Laptops is it 2005 still ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940283)

Tablet?
A tablet with a stand, or you want already curved children getting worse.
Oh and a keyboard, unless you prefer kids that don't type, which is a somewhat essential skill since a couple generations ago. The separate keyboard is easier to lose, needs charging or a cord, weak points.
Maybe a netbook with touchscreen is a better idea.

No apple products unless you want apps disappearing or upgrades/incompatibilities replacing the "dog ate my homework" excuse. You go for a full FOSS stack for something like this.

Re:Laptops is it 2005 still ? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940665)

Because they are hell to write on. The only way to input any substantial amount of text is with a keyboard (external or dock) which negates most of those advantages of the tablet. In return for possibly lighter hardware the school gets to desk with a lack of software and greater cost.

Hello? Tech Support??? (1)

Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) | more than 2 years ago | (#39939545)

I'm sorry to say, but this will turn to shit.

My daughter was part Kevin 07s laptop trial program a couple of years ago in a Victorian primary school.
They gave every student in her year a netbook for $150 with everything on it. Win 7, Office etc. and they used them in just about every class.

It was a really, really good initiative.... until they broke.

The schools had enough seed money to pay a tech to come in and set them up initially, after that there was no more support. Teachers who were technically minded had to resolve network issues and hardware failures themselves - and handle the backlog of netbooks from kids of teachers who had no idea.

The netbooks were on the education networks, so they were locked down so tightly that parents who were technically minded, couldn't do anything to fix them.
In the end kids had to share machines in class and broken netbooks didn't get fixed.

These could be wonderful programs, but the politicians (as usual) just don't give a shit once the ribbon has been cut and the photo op is gone.
No tech support in the schools means no program - its pretty simple really.

Re:Hello? Tech Support??? (1)

msevior (145103) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940045)

The OLPC project specifically addresses tech support and is included in the budget. Also the software stackis totally different to a standard PC. It is focussed on collaborative learning and is totally open-sourced. It is very different to a standard commercial software distribution with canned teaching.

Re:Hello? Tech Support??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39940465)

Is it possible to run terminal activity and ssh activity on OLPC ?
If so, who cares about the rest of the software.

Re:Hello? Tech Support??? (1)

PuZZleDucK (2478702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39949383)

I ran the demo software a while ago and I'm pretty sure you can. I don't think it was bash but there was some *sh, csh maybe.

Hypochrisy (1)

aleckais (1457189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39940785)

Yet another way of keeping track of men, from the cradle up.

waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39947113)

what a waste of money, computers != better learning.

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