Who’s Going To Provide School Laptops To Australian Students In 2013?

Who’s Going To Provide School Laptops To Australian Students In 2013?

What happens next?

Who's going to pay for the Australian students laptops in 2013?
Who’s going to pay for the Australian students laptops in 2013? Photo: Shutterstock

UPDATE: March 2013

There are some negotiations around the funding of the laptops in schools program. Last I heard around a 3rd of the costs will be paid, but I’m not sure about that.

Also the funding stops in June this year not 2012. Which is rather odd, as the last laptops went out in January 2013, what happens for the 2nd half of the year? Repairs? Replacements?

Schools don’t feel they have been given enough warning to make other arrangements.

 

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At the end of June 2012, June 2013 the previous Rudd Government’s “Education Revolution” policy ends. Starting in 2008 Kevin Rudd introduced a policy of issuing every year 9 student in Australian schools with a government funded laptop computer. This was to ensure there was a 1.1 computer ratio for all students over 4 years in the higher levels of secondary school education, regardless of each schools or parents ability to provide them.

The last of these funded laptops will be delivered to next years year 9 students early 2012 2013 After that time new students entering year 9 will not receive them. The Australian Government allocated between $1,000 and $1.500 dollars per laptop, which included the software, which apparently they bought from Microsoft for a special edu price. This “Education Revolution” initiative was never intended to go beyond 4 years.

So….what happens next, does anyone know? As all Australian schools will have already integrated the laptops into their education planning, Im assuming that future year 9 students will continue to need computers for their education. Certainly there is a move away from lugging heavy textbooks around and putting all the resources on laptops, which is a very sensible idea. The horse has well and truly bolted over the last 4 years, there really isn’t any going back.

Cyber Safety:

There were strict guidelines given for the use of the Govt supplied student laptops. Guidelines that included a signed agreement between parents, student and the school, that students not try to bypass any firewalls or filters that were installed on each computer, to ensure it was only used for school work, amongst other agreements which included anti-Cyber Bullying policies. These government donated computers were never supposed to replace a home computer for playing on or watching YouTube videos. If parents or schools are to now provide the computers, what policies will there be set up now for those, and who will supervise it? Once the government is out of the picture I’m assuming they won’t take any responsibility for the privately bought student computers? Will the education department then have to get involved? Or will it be left up to each school to implement their own policies and security on these privately bought computers.

One school I have been dealing with lately, already has computers provided by their students parents, which are brought into school even by primary school students. I was told that there are no requirements for safety filters to be put onto these computers at all, no security is required by the school other than the Wi Fi access available at the school has a filter and firewall on it. So the students can bring anything they like on their computers to school which means without filters or parental controlled accounts, one student was seen to have been showing nude pictures to his friends…he was in year 5! I was told by a teacher at this school that it was the parents responsibility if the student brought inappropriate material on their computer to school and then showed it around. I don’t see how that can be the case? Once on school grounds surely its also the schools responsibility. See my previous article “Cyber Safety Who’s Responsibility Is It?” here.

Each state in Australia is individually responsible for supplying the new computers to each year 9 student, the story in computerworld today announces that next years 2012 year 9 students (my son included) across NSW will receive an almost military grade Lenovo Thinkpad. Looks pretty sturdy and should last (thank goodness…my soon to be Year 9 son, has had real problems protecting his expensive science calculator, which was jumped on, “stolen” and one replacement was even run over by a Bus! None of them survived!)

From the Article: Computer World

Lenovo's rugged ThinkPad X130e
Lenovo’s rugged ThinkPad X130
  • “The school environment requires high-durable and well-performing laptops, with all-day battery life,” Dianne Marshall from the NSW Department of Education and Communities, said in a statement.
  • “Lenovo has combined these features in the specially designed ThinkPad X130e and tailored it to meet the needs of students and schools.”
  • The Lenovo ThinkPad X130e is the world’s first value laptop to pass military specifications for durability.

 

Four Year Old Laptops Just Don’t Cut It!

Laptops typically have a lifespan of no more than 3 or 4 years before batteries start to fail, hard drives fail, and they just don’t have the technology to support new programs. It’s very generous that the government is “allowing” year 12 students to take full ownership of the laptops once they graduate from high school, as they gleefully announced in their press release, (i.e. the students can now put games on them! yee har!) but a 4 year old bashed up old laptop is really not anything to get exited about, and you certainly won’t want to hand it down! So don’t imagine the schools can recycle them or parents can.

 

 

Costs And Security:

This version of the Lenovo ThinkPad is priced at $469U.S which seems affordable, but remember that doesn’t include software and Microsoft software can really add up! Student versions are a little cheeper but not by much.

Many schools are starting to use iPads which although not that that great to type on, (you can buy keyboards for them,) are really so much easier to set up for security. They have far less problems with Malware and viruses, and the parental controls come already installed and are very very easy to set up. Software for them is also much cheeper even if the initial outlay for the hardware is more, and many educational text book suppliers have already started releasing apps for them.

My Concerns Are….

That if parents or schools are held responsible for maintaining the laptops and providing them that-

1. Many students will miss out, as some parents won’t afford them.

2. Parents don’t have enough ability to secure the laptops, and understand how to set them up with filters and safety.

3. That the schools won’t have the resources to set them up for security either.

4. Students will bring unsuitable material on their laptops to school, (easier to hide than in the old days when Girly magazines could be smuggled in school bags but discovered after a quick search) Putting firewalls on your school Wi Fi doesn’t stop that, and kids have been known…(Gasp I know!) to break through firewalls…

It seems to me that there needs to be some planning and preperation done, and maybe it has been thought out already, but as a parent I’m not aware of it. What have you heard?

 

UPDATE: According to the policy, laptops for this years year 9 student can be bought, but will not continue to be supported by the Govt DER scheme after June this 2013. There is more on the policy Here in a Sydney Morning Herald Article

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