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Australia Education Portables News

Australian Government Backs OLPC 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-even-work-upside-down dept.
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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Australian Government Backs OLPC

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  • what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @01:42AM (#39938407)

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

    • by bane2571 (1024309)
      you missed the "educational ecosystem" Which I assume to mean "actually helpful software"
    • Re:what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @01:56AM (#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.

    • by iamhassi (659463)

      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

    • 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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      • 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.
  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @01:51AM (#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.

    • 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 c
      • Re:A good thing (Score:4, Informative)

        by duk242 (1412949) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:04AM (#39938509) Homepage
        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.
        • 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.
          • by duk242 (1412949)
            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
      • 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 th

      • by jaminJay (1198469)
        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.
      • by iamhassi (659463)

        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: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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...

      • 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?

    • by Nursie (632944)

      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.

    • by azalin (67640)

      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.

    • by qxcv (2422318)

      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

      • 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 f

    • 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.

  • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by azalin (67640)
      The price is probably not just the hardware but also some sort of supporting infrastructure as well.
  • 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 mind

    • by msevior (145103)

      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.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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