Tuesday, February 05, 2008

fresh turns to stale



The laptop was good for an "education revolution" photo shoot during the election campaign, to demonstrate that Rudd was "fresh" and Howard "stale"

But once elected things change --> FAQ from the government's digital education revolution web page:
Will every Year 9 – 12 student get laptops?

The purpose of the fund is to ensure that every student in Years 9-12 has access to a computer at school. Schools in consultation with their school community will determine their ICT needs. They will be able to purchase a range of equipment, such as laptops, desktop computers, thin clients, interactive whiteboards, data projectors, digital cameras and other technologies.

Will the Fund be used for laptop or desktop computers?

Schools in consultation with their school community will determine their ICT needs. This may include laptops, desktop computers or other ICT equipment.

Will the student be allowed to take a laptop home?

Whether or not students are allowed to take laptops home is at the discretion of the individual school. This decision will need to be made within the requirements of their education jurisdiction.

Can parents access a laptop that has been provided to their child by the school under the Fund?

Equipment purchased with a grant provided under the Fund is for use within the school and is not intended for parental use.
This is business as usual, not an "education revolution"

Here are my views (from December: rudd's non vision ...) outlining a more radical approach:
  • laptops to take home, not computers stuck in labs
  • wide distribution on OLPC in Australian primary schools - it is now possible (givemany)
  • if you have to choose then laptops to the younger kids, not the older kids
  • free software
  • programming languages included in the software distribution
  • teacher inservice would focus on how maths and science concepts could be enhanced by computer usage

4 comments:

Tony Forster said...

$900M is a lot of money. There are about 2M students in school, to give every student, K-12 a OLPC laptop would cost only $300M. Better make that $150M for every primary school student in Australia. That leaves $750M to spend on teacher PD etc.

Disappointing backslip by the govt. but I suppose they are only as good as the advice they are getting. And where is that coming from?

gordini said...

Does the funding also include a component of technical support? If every yr9 student in my school was given a laptop - approximately 300 students.. that amounts to a considerable amount of technical support. Also, laptops are useless without a wireless network... does the grant also include purchase, installation and maintenance of a WAN ?

Gary said...

Bill,

You are so correct. It seems as if Rudd is studying the moronic deployment of computers in American schools rather than the pioneering work of Aussies.

Gary said...

Gordini is wrong on countless levels:

1) A lot more technical support is required if your metaphor for computing use if network-centric. There are a zillion viable models demonstrated to show how little tech-support expense there may be if students are used in technical support (http://genyes.com/programs/gentech) and if reliable machines are purchased by competent vendors with high expectations. Computelec Australia has led the world in this regard for nearly 20 years. (www.computelec.com)

2) Laptops do not require elaborate networking at school. There is plenty of constructive work possible on a laptop, with or without school Internet access.

3) We are on the verge of network access being ubiquitous whether school provides its typically crippled and overpriced access or not.