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Michigan To Purchase Record 130,000 Laptops

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the must-not-have-been-spending-enough dept.

Education 641

goombah99 writes "The Detroit FreePress reports that Michigan state is planning the largest single laptop purchase/lease ever, over 130,000 wireless laptops--enough for every 6th grader. And of course future purchases for each new class. The main competion is between Dell and Apple, with Apple having the edge in classroom integration experience. But price points will matter since the school districts may have to pay $25 per pupil. And the Gates foundation has a foot in the door. No word on what OS the Dell laptops would run. What would be your choice for middle school classrooms with minimal sys admin?"

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My choice (5, Insightful)

ninthwave (150430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163509)

With minimal sys admin resources I would go with apple les patches and updates and virus protection needed. (Not none just less)

Re:My choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163529)


Re:My choice (3, Funny)

garysears (628452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163541)

for the same purpose, we use patched XP and Deep Freeze. You don't even need virus protection-- the next time the system boots, the thing goes back to a snapshot image.

Re:My choice (1)

ninthwave (150430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163603)

But I think the purpose of the laptops were for the students to use them to do work and reports with, like Maine where the student had the laptop for the year and turned it back when it was done so that would not work under those conditions. If it were static desktops for teaching computers on then that format with any os would work fine.

Re:My choice (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163637)

my choice: Parents spend a little more time with their kids and pay a little more attention..that'll do for the kids education what a cluster of linux super computers can't.

Re:My choice (1)

ninthwave (150430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163697)

If only you could get parents to do that we wouldn't being worrying about school budgets, but unfortunately that just can't be bought or educated into the masses. But it is so much the only true method of improving childrens education and life.

Re:My choice (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163648)

An examination of the total cost of ownership has revealed in the past that Macs simply cost less to own. They retain their resale value much better than the equivalent Wintel PC, they cost less to administrate which means lower salary costs, lower benefits costs etc... to the school district. However, the real stickler in many of these issues is that the school IT folks depend on Wintel to maintain their jobs, so I guess the benefits depend upon which perspective you maintain. As a taxpayer however, I want the best return on my investment. Go with the Macs.

Re:My choice (2, Funny)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163651)

Apple OS on an X86 computer? No. Michigan is going to go with Microsoft Windows XP and they are going to like it. There is going to be heavy use of Norton Ghost, or a similar product. Maintance will not be very difficult. (Any problem at all? Ghost it.) Virus protection can be easily managed using any one of the client-host virus updating softwares. And with new Microsoft servers (Server 2003 for example), it will be easy to automatically patch the workstations.

Re:My choice (1, Funny)

Blarfy_Snarflepoop (541822) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163659)

My gawd - If these children are given laptops that are running Windows, and not taught how to use windows update...

...I'm moving to the mountains!

Re:My choice (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163669)

For minimal sys admin they should first master pen and paper.

Re:My choice (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163729)

umm... giving laptops to 6th graders?... i know it sounds cool and all, but lemmie repeat...

Laptops to 6th graders

what the heck for, its going to get broken, stolen, and not used to its full potential.
all they need is a browser, and a word processor.

they could prolly get away with a palm before they need a laptop.

AP! (1)

Safrax (697056) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163512)

Michigan has just become the new AP heaven of choice...

Re:AP! (1)

3th3rn3t (245106) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163538)

so, will they come with Kazaa or FlashFXP installed ? :)

integration experience? (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163514)

with Apple having the edge in classroom integration experience.

Can someone explain what that means. Integration with what?

Re:integration experience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163663)

I think it has to do with court-orderd cross-platform PCI bussing.

Re:integration experience? (0, Flamebait)

borgdows (599861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163684)

integration with little boys... you know...

Re:integration experience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163690)

with each other. Networking WindowsXP laptops with each other is hell. On the other hand, Randezvous automatically discovers servers other clients seamlessly. Less work for the staff.

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163515)

in soviet russia.... LAPTOP WIRES YOU LESS! fp for gnaa dgsagagagagasgasga

first post? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163516)

first post?

OS X (1)

pheared (446683) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163520)

Oh right, these are Dell.

Here's an artical about (3, Informative)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163521)

The fight between Dell and Apple to supply the laptops []

Re:Here's an artical about (2, Informative)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163567)

An additional [] artical at MacNN.

Re:Here's an artical about (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163728)

Here's an ARTICLE about spelling [] , dick brain.

Ibooks for all (4, Insightful)

Bigbambo (8887) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163522)

They are compact (12") and have enough power to do the kind of things kids would need to do in school. OS X crashes less then windows xp, and doesnt have to have a legion of anti-virus software packages installed on it to keep the machine safe.

Re:Ibooks for all (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163629)

OS X crashes less then windows xp

Thats a falsity if my experience has anything to go by. While we're mostly a windows shop, one of the staff managed to wangle a G4 into our network. It's not a bad machine, and OSX is nice, but where most of the XP boxes will be up for weeks or even months at a time with no problems, crashes are a few a week on the G4. It might not sound bad, but when you lose hours of work 3 times a week repeatedly, you really have to question the usefulness of the system that's causing those problems.

130,000 iBooks, that makes near half a million crashes every week. That's a lot of lost work. Compare that with a few thousand crashes if they were XP machines. I'd be wary.

Re:Ibooks for all (2, Interesting)

nullard (541520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163688)

Strange, the only way I can make my mac crash is by using unusual kernel extensions to make my serial adapter work. Otherwise, it never crashes. We have infrequent but anoying WinXP crashes at my office.

Dell with Linux. (3, Insightful)

maharg (182366) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163526)

Honestly, can you imagine what sort of virus protection scheme you would need if you were foolish enough to put windows on 130,000 laptops. Desktops with M$ OSii are enough of a headache, but laptops get taken home...

Re:Dell with Linux. (0, Offtopic) (637314) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163591)

Unfortunately, I tried putting Red Hat on my Dell Inspiron 8000 so many times. For starters, no out of the book support for the GeForce2 Go card (guh). Secondly, it didn't like something about the harddrive (or motherboard and harddrive) and it would corrupt the harddrive every time I shut it off.

I can't explain how frustrating it is to watch it corrupt itself every time you cycle the power. Sometimes it wouldn't do it at first, but within a week I'd be pulling my hair out.

Re:Dell with Linux. (1)

Whispers_in_the_dark (560817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163667)

Odd, I've been working with various versions of Linuxen for the last two years on an Inspiron 8K. I can't speak to the video issue (I have the ATI mobility in mine -- it installs without incident on RedHat 8/9) but I have not had any of the hard drive issues you cite. In fact, I upgraded the drive without problem one...

As with everythng, your milage may vary...

Durable enough? (4, Informative)

hether (101201) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163528)

Our college just switched to the Dell Latitude D800 from IBM Think Pads and I must say they don't seem to be as durable. The keyboards are particularly a problem. I can't see them standing up to use by upper elementary or middle school age kids.

Re:Durable enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163686)

Good point and something obvious many people might not think about. No offense to Dell as they make wonderful computer, but I have never seen a Dell (laptop or desktop) that was extra durable. I have never thrown an Apple around, but they look and feel a lot stronger.

The downside of going OSX? There is no viable office suite. Microsoft Office for OSX its plain old and may not give the less creative students the skills the need for the future. (but we all know developing the ability to learn on your own is more important)

Re:Durable enough? (2, Interesting)

pheared (446683) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163695)

They need these. []

You want minimal sys-admin? (-1, Troll)

akedia (665196) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163531)

Go with Windows XP. There will be posts below this claiming the merits of Linux and saying how it's the best tool for any job, but have you ever tried installing Linux on a laptop? More trouble than it's worth, especially since these will be going to freaking 6th graders. Do you want to teach 130,000 12-year-olds how to bring up and down networking to swap out wireless cards? Or how to modprobe the correct audio driver just so they can have sound? We're talking software-emulated hardware on these Dell laptops. Linux has a ways to go with proper support for laptops.

Re:You want minimal sys-admin? (1)

ninthwave (150430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163554)

The options were Apple or Dell not Linux or Windows.

Re:You want minimal sys-admin? (1)

RuB1X (707519) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163612)

RTFA, no one in their right mind would recommend Linux for a "minimal sys admin" The competition is clearly OSX and WinXP, but for minimal administration, and sheer ease of use without the constant virus threat and patching, OSX is the clear choice.

Now, someone disagree with me.

Re:You want minimal sys-admin? (0, Troll)

Raunch (191457) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163614)

Mod parent down
-1 troll

(no one could confuse OSX, a BSD derivative, with linux)

Damn (0) (637314) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163533)

And I thought _I_ bought a lot of laptops... I even picked up a linux laptop from (now something like, throw in a Dell Inspiron 8000, and a Sony, and an old Toshiba I gave to my dad.

"Sir, I think you've had enough!"

- I'LL TELL YOU WHEN I'VE HAD ENOUGH! (Bleeding Gums Murphy and his egg addiction)

Oh thats easy Image XP (0)

Wameku (629442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163536)

i'd just use the xp licenses that came with the buggers anyway. Build an image, and store it on the network. bada-bing!

Who needs an OS (3, Funny)

darkmayo (251580) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163543)

Have the little buggers write there own.. and with this new generation of Nerds we then can take over the world!!!

No decision at all: should go with Apple laptops (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163546)

They are the easiest to use and most elegant computers going. Why would you want to burden an 11 year old with the complexities of Windows or Linux?

Guess (4, Funny)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163547)

No word on what OS the Dell laptops would run.

I'll give you a hint. It starts with a 'W' and ends with an indows.

Patch today patch tomorrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163550)

Just think of how long it would take to patch 130,000 laptops. Even with one patch a month, that is a lot of work.

Then think of anti-virus requirements for 130,000 PCs or anti-virus for 130,000 Macs.

Apples are the way to go, unless you want to charge each student $100 a year for admin support.

what? (4, Interesting)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163556)

"No word on what OS the Dell laptops would run."

That can't be a serious statement.

I hope Apple wins and these kids get iBooks with an airport card. I have a G4 Powerbook and my girlfriend has a 900mhz iBook, and I have to tell you, I'm not really sure where my extra $1000 went.

I'd buy Macs... (4, Insightful)

youbiquitous (150681) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163564)

TCO. That's what the REAL bottom line is. The Macs will cost less because of the lower IT staffing requirements. Unfortunately, that's the same reason many school IT administrators will go with Windows. Less staff = a smaller fiefdom for the managers.

Re:I'd buy Macs... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163677)

well i guess linux is out of the question then. all the microsoft studies indecate that the techs get paid more for administrating linux. how else could the TCO of a free operating system, that once set up needs little administration end up costing more than the propietary OS that has a sleww of conection license schemes with fees atached to them.

i would say go Apple.

Does this really make sense? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163569)

I know I'll get howled down by all the techheads around here, but I'm truly wondering if spending somewhere between 500 and 1000 bucks per student on something that depreciates so incredibly fast makes any sense. History books, saxophones and art supplies do not depreciate nearly as quickly and cost a lot less. So do teachers -- in fact, most of them *appreciate* instead with greater training and experience. That's a shitload of money spent on computers where more fundamental educational infrastructure might make more sense?...

But Why? (4, Insightful)

hoover10001 (550647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163576)

Ok, this wasn't the question, but WHY does every 6th grader in the state need a laptop?
Isn't Michigan having a budget crunch like every other state?

Re:But Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163706)

because someone said every one from michgan was stupid. they need to change thier state image before they end up looking like west virginia.

no seriously i was wondering the samething myself. there must be some kind of superior insight up there.

Re:But Why? (1)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163717)

Michigan is a training ground for the US Marines. They need a new breed of soldier, who can root the gibson under battle pressure. You must breed them young, and deprive them of the rest of their childhood.

These soldiers will be used when fighting countries like Iraq to hacksor and the enemies will run away in ph33f.

Cuz after all...what country is worth living in when it can be pwned by 6th graders?

My choice... (5, Insightful)

Chris Parrinello (1505) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163577)

What would be your choice for middle school classrooms with minimal sys admin?

I dunno... maybe a blackboard, some chalk and a couple of erasers. Paper, pens and pencils would be apropos. Textbooks I hear have a pretty low TCO.

Biggest Criteria (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163580)

I think the deciding factor in such a purchase would be shock resistance. These poor computers are going to get the crap beat out of them.

Stop installing computers in schools... (1)

realinvalidname (529939) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163581)

...realistically, they should be installing cash registers and deep fryers.


Misguided Spending (5, Insightful)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163593)

over 130,000 wireless laptops--enough for every 6th grader

Great. Now every 6th grader may not be able to write a coherent sentence or multiply two fractions, but they'll be able to point-and-click their way to the job of their dreams.

Computers aren't the solution, but tools to help aciheve one.

Re:Misguided Spending (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163623)

Especially when you use the spellchecker for hard words like "achieve." Dick brain.

Re:Misguided Spending (3, Funny)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163624)

tools to help aciheve one

See? Look what affect computers have had even on me!

Re:Misguided Spending (0, Troll)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163693)

what affect computers have

I should quit while I'm ahead.

Re:Misguided Spending (1)

mydigitalself (472203) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163710)

its far better than the situation my 21 year old sister is - she can't use computers because she's never been taught and never shown an interest at home to learn anything about them.

nobody ever proposed scrapping traditional schooling - kids will still be taught the theory of math(s), English, science etc... just the medium through which it is taught has changed - which your second statement regarding solution/tools pretty much backs up...

Re:Misguided Spending (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163711)

Now every 6th grader may not be able to write a coherent sentence or multiply two fractions, but they'll be able to point-and-click their way to the job of their dreams.

At least they will know where India is on the map and be able to get plane tickets through MSExpedia [] .

That has to be good news... (1)

Chris_Stankowitz (612232) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163597)

for at least a few people that are unemployed in the area. 130,000 Laptops, means more than a few people to roll them out, support them, etc. Hope this deal doesn't fall through. Also it means that sooner or later other states will follow suit. I don't think this is the answer to the problem with education in the US, but its a step in a "good" direction.

definetly... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163601)

Mac. I grew up on a Mac through the school system. Its quite simple: They don't break as often. The kids favourite games aren't available for the platform. And they'll stay useful much longer; it seems PCs get their "useless" rating much earlier than a Mac of the same era.

Re:definetly... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163661)

Especially when you use the spellchecker for hard words like "definitely." Dick brain.

MY choice? (2, Interesting)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163607)

a Live Linux distribution storing the data on a central fileserver with robust virus scanning.

Dell (3, Informative)

mrcutrer (265376) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163609)

Working for a school district in Texas, I can tell you that Dell has the edge in the now. Apple had the edge back in the day. I would go with dell and XP. Honestly, I'm not a big M$ fan, but XP is very stable in our environment, and only GPF's or screws up when groups or policies are in conflict with what certain software needs.


Apples all the way, baby! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163611)

Apples would be the best laptops for the kids to use since we can start early with youngsters to show them that there's other computers out there besides Wintel boxes. Kids will love the coolness factor of either iBooks or PowerBook's. Then again, it might be a bad idea to purchase laptops for kids since if they're allowed to use them in class, then I can forsee tons of kids being distracted by watching DVDs during class. Not only that, but what if a kid drops the laptop either on accident or because some bully shoved him into a locker or onto the floor?

Bad for Apple, Bad for Comps in Schools. (3, Interesting)

StingRayGun (611541) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163617)

What are the chances that this actually get based on class/user-experiance? This will come down to gates wanting this one, and people making un-educated decisions. I see this going to Dell al the way.

This effects more then Apple though, this effects the whole computers in classrooms issue. When the go with MSDELL, and it ends up costing a lot more then they realized, other schools will not be as likely to fallow suite.

Sys admin requirement (1)

Wattsman (75726) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163620)

In reponse to the poster's question of: What would be your choice for middle school classrooms with minimal sys admin?

I'd probably choose Win(insert version here) with the ability to quickly Ghost the hard drive. It's easy to get ahold of a teacher/friend of a teacher/whoever that has some Windows trouble-shooting experience. What can't be fixed gets Ghosted (do those backups to a central machine or a CD-R). Linux may be more secure in a number of ways, but quickly finding someone to fix the problem locally is more difficult.

Laptops for 6th graders? (2, Insightful)

ShortedOut (456658) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163622)

They can't even keep the covers on their notebooks, what makes the "state" think that they can be responsible with a laptop?

Apparently the state has too much money to spend, either that, or someone in state government has a 6th grader or two.

6th Graders with Laptops. (4, Insightful)

methangel (191461) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163625)

I think that all 6th graders having laptops, WITH wireless acccess is a bad idea. While a laptop is a great tool, I fail to see how it would fit in with 6th grade curriculum. 6th graders have a hard enough time sitting still and doing their work without a toy thrown into the mix.

In some of my old CS classes, I remember COLLEGE students playing games or watching movies during the lectures. I can forsee a similar problem with the younguns.

What OS? It should probably be "Schoolnix" .. a custom distribution of some sort that allows the school to lock-down / prevent access to games and non-educational websites during school hours. The school did pay for the hardware after all.

Don't hold your breath (1)

brotherscrim (617899) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163631)

I'll believe it when I see it. Just last night the possibility of it not going as planned (not all 6th graders would be getting one) was on the news here in Lansing.

Frankly, I hope they scratch the whole idea. What a titanic waste of money!

OS of choice! (1)

code_echelon (709189) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163634)

"What would be your choice for middle school classrooms with minimal sys admin?"

I would have them using the Dell laptops with probably Redhat Linux. This is because it would be very cost effective for them and Redhat is an easy first step into the Linux world. The fees running a full Microsoft lab is getting to be two expensive and is not a neccesity. Everything that needs to be accomplished by these students is capable of running on Linux.

Minimal sys admin (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163635)

...Sounds like a perfect use for knoppix or something similar - perhaps enough to boot and connect to a terminal server (either X forwarding or windows term server via rdesktop or something), so the sys admin only has 1 machine to keep updated.

Linux (1)

sbeast702 (447699) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163643)

Tey shood rooon leenoox

First question: Why is this even necessary? (0, Troll)

dada21 (163177) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163644)

Honestly, why is it the state's job to purchase laptops for any reason, including education?

Shouldn't parents be responsible for their children's educational needs? When the state goes out and wastes these dollars on an education system that has already failed too often in the past, the tax payers will be the ones who pay this bill.

Each family in this state has better things to do with their money, probably. Maybe they would rather save for their child's college education. Maybe they need food. Maybe the car needs new brakes. Maybe the family would like to go on a vacation. Why should government use force to take what the family thinks is best and give it to bureaucrats who think they know better because the masses have decreed they should know better?

This is unbelievable. It amazes me that so many people even here would rather debate Apple versus Dell rather than debate the need for such excessive abuse of power.

What a waste of tax dollars (2, Insightful)

igorsway (669877) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163645)

What the hell do 6th graders need computers for? I'd rather see my kid's elementary school spend their money on small class sizes or music programs. Read Clifford Stoll's book "Silicon Snake Oil." il.html

Other Considerations (2, Interesting)

ath3na (698230) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163647)

I live in the Detroit area and have been keeping up with this story - and I think this is bull$hit.

First of all, there is no mention of what OS they will run, and if they do run Windows, which they most likely will, who will be responsible for patches, updates, virus definitions. Will the kids learn to defrag. their own hard drives? Can they take them home? What about monitoring? Does the school have keyloggers or keep track of cookies, history files? What if the student uses the computer (school property) to do something illegal (online gambling, pr0n, whatever...)

I believe I read an earlier article in either the News or Free Press that interviewed a family..the student indicated she couldn't wait to get her school laptop since her sister is always using their home PC.

I'd like to know more information before the kids get their hands on these computers.

OS Choice (2, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163653)

130,000 Knoppix CDs?

Easy administration. Easy distribution of new apps...just make a new CD and distribute it. Put the /home dir on the HDD for user files. Buy laptops with smallest HDD possible. Save $$$ on hardware and software licenses.


vendor independant hardware/software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163654)

anything else sets yOUR kids up for further corepirate nazi mindphucking.

welcome the good gnus. chips are a dime a dozen.

be careful when dealing with the creator's innocents.

OS X is the best solution. (1)

believekevin (701120) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163656)

OS X is the best solution for this situation not only because it will be the easiest to configure and maintain. OS X natively offers scalable educational opportunities for students that win XP could never.

There are 1000s of free software / OSS programs online that educators can use in the classroom. Not to mention the benefits to future hacker students interested in learning C, or shell scripting; OS X can do this as well.

The RIAA would love this too because then all the kids can get 50 Cent mp3s off iMS.

do they really need them? (1)

the idoru (125059) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163657)

i'm sorry, but do 6th graders really have need for a laptop? they need to be introduced to computers in school because computers are so ubiquitous in society (but not necessarily at home), but i wonder if there is a better way than handing them a laptop and giving them wireless access during class.

i learned computers pretty well, and in school i only had them in one classroom--the computer lab. we had time set aside a few times a week for a computer class. this way students get introduced to computers and you don't have to buy so damn many of them.

it's just that with school budgets so piss poor, i wonder if the money would be better spent on something like teacher salaries. i didn't RTFA so i don't know how much of the bill the government is footing.

my vote's for ibooks, though.

None of the above! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163660)

This is an epidemic waiting to happen. I know of a school district where all of the faculty and staff gets laptops, and they go home every night. Those people with cable modems, DSL, or whatever frequently plug these laptops into those networks and no longer have the usual district-level firewall to protect them.

The next morning, all of these systems come back to work, get plugged in there, and infect everything else. It's all inside the firewall, so no amount of border protection will work.

These guys got absolutely clobbered by Slammer and some other recent nasties, and there aren't 130K of them. I can't imagine how horribly screwed up this will be.

Let them buy their own computers if they want them so badly. Then they keep them at home, where they belong. It worked for plenty of other people before them.

I wouldn't buy the laptops. (2, Insightful)

jvagner (104817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163665)

I don't see how they're essential to education at that grade level.

These kids have the rest of their lives to spend in front of a keyboard and screen. Give them a few more years of relief before they get chained up.

Sales Point (1, Funny)

omarques (685690) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163668)

From []

Michigan's Computer Giveaway Is Questionable Use of Tax Dollars

New technology doesn't guarantee better student achievement; kids could use devices to play games

For the first time, Apple can use the lack of games for mac as a sales point!

What a stupid trend (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163670)

What would be your choice for middle school classrooms with minimal sys admin?

My choice for school kids is pen and paper and good teachers.

Why spend so much money on technological gadgetry with 2/3 years of life when that money could be better spent on smaller classes, more personalized education and fighting illiteracy?

What's more, one thing I strongly believe is that computers destroy what makes kids kids : the ability to imagine and dream. Computers and televisions presents them with pre-chewed images that prevents them from developing their imagination, and pretty much turns a lot of them into passive technology consumers. The last thing we need is that crap to pervade into schools. There's time enough for kids to get into technology later, even touch it a little now and then as introductory classes when they're younger, but really schools should be sanctuaries of things simple, to let kids' brains be free and allow them to learn the basics properly.

A compromise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163672)

In one respect, I think that computers in education should be running the latest/greatest OS-also the one with the most exposure to the public as this would benefit students in being able to keep up with the ever-changing GUIs, nomenclature, etc. I think (and I slap myself for saying this now, as a few years back I would've been shot in my peer group) that XP Pro is the best candidate for the job. It is a robust, plug and play OS with compatibility for an array of HW and SW, and has an interface that while looks pretty, can be made to mimic that of 2K. Just make sure to apply all 28 critical patches, make a base image of the HD with dual partitions - one for Data, other for OS, and periodically re-image (if necessary) the OS, also maintining updates on a regular basis. My main choice would be 2K, but I fear that it has a very limited lifecycle in the end-user realm...And don't get me wrong-I am not an M$ fanatic. I prefer more stable OS's, however for the purpose of education, what will most of the students be using in their future job positions? Just a thought

6th grader (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163675)

Our sys admin is a 6th grader, you insensitive clod.

They're not... (2, Informative)

Unreal One (21453) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163676)

I've used both before, and ThinkPads aren't constructed all that well. Dell's are pretty good, but Toshiba Tectra's seem like the most sturdy laptops currently available (not including the ultra durable ones for mine shaft / military application Example [] )

Pros and Cons (3, Interesting)

Polarcow (526269) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163683)

Mac OS X
Pros: Lack of virii, easy remote administration, friendly interface, Office suite, flexibility, able to network easily with other Macs and (slightly more difficultly) with Windows or Linux/Unix
Cons: Some people won't touch a Mac because they're predisposed into thinking it sucks.

Pros: Lack of (numerous) virii, relatively easy remote administration, stable, cheap, flexible, able to network with other computers running Linux/Unix Windows, Mac
Cons: Slightly more difficult, espeically troubleshooting

Pros: "Everyone" uses it, likely least infrastructure changes, perhaps some familiarity
Cons: Unstable (don't even talk to me about XP, it's just as bad), open to virii and numerous other vuln's, potentially difficult troubleshooting (believe me, I've worked with other college kids' computers in the dorms)

Who cares as long as it's not Windows! Though with the recent debacle with Dell's mandatory license agreement, the Macs might be the better option.

iBook (1)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163687)

I would go with the 12" iBook, 800Mhz and an airport card. Currently these can be had for just less than 1000$. They're fast enought for what they need them for, and would be the most durable.

Of course on mine I run Gentoo, but I think OS X would be fine for the students; at least until next year...


Can't read the article in Opera 7.11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163692)

Subject says it all - the linked page simply reloads continuously under Opera 7.11, Win2k. It's unreadable that way.

Government doesn't know how to teach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163700)

...but it sure as hell knows how to spend taxpayer dollars and grant favors to corporations in return for cash and non-cash handouts. This is a perfect government solution to a non-problem, while hard-to-fix problems continue on.

Cluster Knoppix for the kiddies!! (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163701)

That way they can collaborate in a massive super computing project to overthrow the Evil Dictator of the Evil Empire.

And in the end, they will be SMARTER simply for using Linux..

Why!? (1)

Hollinger (16202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163702)

Why, oh why would you do this? I fail to see what placing a laptop in the hands of a student would do, aside from give them a very expensive projectile. I'm a geek. I think computers are neat. They're great tools, but they're not a magic cure for bad teaching, and, more specificially bad teachers.

Memphis City Schools tried a similar program through the 1990's, called the 21st Century Classroom. Certain Schools became "21st Century Schools," where EVERY room was a 21st Century Classroom. They had 3-5 computers per room (with 20-30 students per room) and a teacher station with a more powerful machine, large screen TV, VCR, and laserdisc player. Some of you may remember this type of setup.

They had all this technology at their fingertips -- Internet Access, Word Processors, Presentation tools, A/V Equipment -- and almost NONE of the teachers OR administrators knew ANYTHING about how to use any of it. The machines became, essentially, electronic babysitters. A student could finish his or her work, and "play on the computer" with some edutainment program.

Computers for every student aren't needed. They won't use them as they're intended. They have no need for them. Rather than blow ALL this money on machines, they should place, at most, 5-10 machines in a room, and create large labs, available to all students / faculty, and then reallocate the rest of the cash to luring in better teachers, and TRAINING them in how to use the technology.

Start a coherent discussion around this rant. I dare you.

do grade school kids really need computers? (0, Redundant)

myc (105406) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163705)

...particularly in the classroom? I can't really fathom a use for them at the grade school level. You're centainly not going to be teaching programming. You can use them for word processing and web searches at best. My opinion is kids need to learn how to write with paper and pencil first before learning to use a word processor; there is more focus on content than presentation that way IMO. Also, if you want to do web searches, why do you need a latop for every student? Just have a dumb term in each classroom running a webbrowser.

Maybe a paperless enviornment is a goal to work towards? But just imagine paperless will learn to cut and paste from each other's work. At least with handwriting you have to copy the answers manually and maybe learn something out of it.

I would think that the money spent on purchasing laptops and related tech support would be better spent on better pay for teachers...

Maine (3, Informative)

holzp (87423) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163709)

Maine [] did this and it was a smashing success.

Has to be Apple! (1)

True Freak (57805) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163718)

I happen to be a parent of a 4th grader in MI...And with all my years of computer experience...I'd have to say there is no better platform for children to learn the ways of computers. It is a very easy, freindly, and fast platform. I have always felt that Macs are best for people that are new to computers...and with the increased flexibility of the computer can really grow with the users knowledge. I am already going to be buying my child an iBook for X-Mas.

Minimal (zero!) sys admin choice: (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163719)

Forget the laptops. Buy books, hire teachers, buy new classroom furniture. Why do we in the US think that throwing money at unmotivated students, overworked or underqualified teachers and buying into the latest technology is going to fix the education problems? Kids don't want to go to school, and parents don't inspire or reward them. Our culture sneers at educations as being "nerdy" or "geeky". There's a reverse-snobbery in being clueless about the world around you. As a side note, maybe this fosters the behaviors that make the rest of the world dislike us.
Fix the root causes of the problem, don't just throw money at it.

Wouldn't it be great ... (1)

mustangdavis (583344) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163720)

.... to get Bill Gates to help fund this project ..... and then to install linux on all of the laptops (or atleast make them dual boot) :)

Apple (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163723)

Come on, please give it to Apple, please give it to Apple, please give it to Apple...

Anything to get more Macs out there in the hands of impressionable youth.

what a waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163725)

What the f***?

Schools are closing because they can't hire
teachers or afford to repair the lights overhead
but somehow, they have money to buy thousands

It boggles the mind why would you need or
even want computers in grade school for every

Obvious (1)

kurosawdust (654754) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163727)

What would be your choice for middle school classrooms with minimal sys admin?

Gentoo. No X - command-line only. They get enough eye candy when they watch their Super Pokemon Power Rangers. Let's see, theyre in sixth grade, so we can expect them to know a little bit of yacc...

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