One Laptop per Child reaches 20K devices in Aussie schools

One Laptop per Child reaches 20K devices in Aussie schools

Summary: Not-for-profit organisation OLPC Australia's new program, One Education, has now distributed 20,000 computing devices to schools throughout Australia, with a celebration held last week at a school where every student and teacher has a device.

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  • (Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

    The laptop-tablet hybrid, dubbed the XO-duo, was developed at MIT, and designed specifically for use by schoolchildren around the globe. They ordinarily cost AU$400 per machine, but schools with an Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) value (PDF) of less than 1,000 can purchase the devices for AU$100 each. The other AU$300 is funded by the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and by contributions from OLPC Australia's corporate sponsors, including the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Oracle, and Salesforce. The AU$100 also pays for the training, software, charging racks, spare parts, and shipping to deliver the devices to schools.

    The ruggedised all-in-ones run Linux and have a touchscreen that can be rotated 360 degrees, with ports on the side for HDMI out and Bluetooth 2.0. The learning software has programs for mathematics, art, reading, and creative thinking.

    In the US, OLPC made its XO Learning Tablet (without the laptop capabilities) available for purchase from Walmart for $149 in August.

  • (Image: OLPC Australia)

    According to Srikhanta (pictured above with five-year-old kindergarten student Emma Kusumo), low socio-economic schools that choose to participate and then allocate budget to the program are more likely to make full use of the devices, rather than schools that were simply gifted laptops under the original project.

    "People opting in are going to find ways of using this tool in a way that suits them ... we needed to get out of the business of telling people how to use the machine, and instead give them the tools, give them the opportunity and some space to learn it before getting the kids to learn it, because the kids are going to race ahead. Then the idea from that point forward is the teachers would use the machines daily," he said.

  • (Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

    The XO-duos have allowed children as young as five to learn robotics and programming. Here, Emma Kusumo operates a Lego robot plugged in via USB through a computer program, entering commands of her own for the robot to complete.

    The children we spoke to agreed that they would much rather do their schoolwork on their XO-duos than in books, with many saying that they can type faster than they can write.

Topics: Laptops, Government AU, Tablets, Australia, Education

Corinne Reichert

About Corinne Reichert

Corinne is sub-editor across all CBS Interactive sites, and joined the company after completing her degrees in Communications and Law, and undertaking a string of internships in law and journalism. Corinne is also a journalist for ZDNet.

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