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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  • Elise

    NO ONE IS GOING TO PROVIDE THEM TO US. You think the school is going to let us bring our own? NOPE. You think they are going to pay for them thereselves and give them to us? NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. We get nothing but paper and pen. :L

    • Hi Elise, whats your experience so far? I’m just very frustrated that no one seems to be talking about this, if they are where? I’ve googled and looked on the Govt website. I’m really thinking that the Govt is leaving it up to the schools. I do believe the private schools will either include it in their fees, or ask the parents to provide, I already know of one school in our area that asks the parents to provide the laptops for the kids in the junior levels under year 9. And as I said this school has no locks or security on these computers. The schools are starting to talk about getting rid of the paper text books and just using the software, the publishers have already provided most texts with a CD rom for installation. I’m happy about that, cause my boys bag weighs a damn ton! What have you heard?

    • George

      :3 i get laptops

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  • peter

    My daughters school would not let us buy our own so we paid $950 for the laptop of their choice at the start of 2010. It has been 3 years now and she is finishing grade 12 and after we hand it back in they now want another $60 dollars to put vista on the computer and return it to us (or could you give it to us for free to utilise elsewhere). The point here is if the government had an input of funds to buy the computers where did it go as this computer would not be more than $950 dollars for the school to buy as a bulk order (200 year 9 students at the time). My daughter goes to a public school on the Gold Coast and if they have received government funds for the laptop scheme where has it gone. I would say it is all a very big disappointment and all Rudd did was give schools cart Blanche to save money buying school computers and make the parents buy them, and make no mistake you will not have a choice.

  • I think the policy is different depending on the agreement the school has with the Govt, it does seem very odd that you paid for the computer. At my sons school which is a private school, I think we may have paid a levy for the computer, but he gets to keep it at the end of year 12, by which time it will be worth …not much. Don’t let the school put Vista, on your Daughters computer its the worst Windows Operating system ever. If you are upgrading it would be better to do a clean install of Windows 7 which is a very nice operating system. A clean install will also clean out the bugs, but having said that, you might lose all the software, make sure you have the licence numbers for each software app before you do that…Ask an IT expert on what to do. Don’t spend any money if you can avoid it on that computer, 4 years old is about the limit for most laptops, especially a school one that is likely to have been bashed around a bit. I don’t really know what is happening for next years school students as far as laptops go. I think it is up to each school to decide, and the Govt might be offering some compensation just not sure.
    Thankyou for your post

  • Lorna

    Hi Leonie,

    While reading through some of your interesting information about the school laptop scheme I am wondering where I will find the information about the press release you have mentioned: “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”

    My daughters school is claiming that year 12’s, upon graduation, must either give back the laptops, or pay $1000.00 to keep them – which is ridiculous as they are not worth anywhere near that much. I want to write to the school armed with the correct information.

    Regards
    Lorna

    • Hi Lorna, its on the link at the top of the post. Here it is again, I’m not sure why any school say that you need to buy the laptop, I’m concerned actually as I’ve heard that from another parent that parents might be getting ripped off. But maybe there are different deals with different schools…see the release it clearly sets out the terms, including the computers being handed over to students. And I’m with you.. although the software on these computers is very expensive, a 4 year old computer is worth $50 bucks…and you cannot transfer the software onto a new device probably. You won’t have the licence keys…let me know how you go, I keep trying to contact the minister about this, but have had no reply, and seen NOTHING in the press either. https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/technology/computers/l4l/PD20090395.shtml

  • Sarah

    Im in hlidays now and i am a ‘to be’ year 9 and i really want t know if we can do anythng about the time limit of 4 years. I my school people say we arent getting laptos but we might get iPads but it isnt confirmed by staff or any teachers yet. it is just a word going round, the point im trying to say is can anyone confirm if we are getting laptops/iPads or anything, i just need a confirmation.

    • I believe it’s up to each school to decide now. I did hear that some funding would be available from the Govt, but can’t confirm that. Let me know if you hear anything?

      • Chanse

        Hi. I’m a student who has just entered year nine a few weeks ago. It has been confirmed (somewhere) that year 9 students in 2013 will be the last lot to recieve laptops.
        They are the newer version of the 130e – the Thinkpad 131e which has faster startup and the same durability as the 130e.
        They will be distributed in the next few weeks by public high schools free of charge. THIS IS THE LAST YEAR!
        Just thought I’d tell you, incase you didn’t know.
        🙂

        • Thankyou! Yes at the moment you are the last. I believe the Government is still negotiating with the Schools as to what they will pay for next year. If you have any other feedback about how the computer works if you are happy with it, etc…please let me know!

  • Aaron

    Hi there, I’m a year 10 student going into year 11 this year and let me just say these laptops become burdens on the students and the parents. In my experience there is no escaping pen and paper, these laptops become heavy paper weights in some classes, a lot of teachers still require textbooks. A lot of teachers have given up on them, there either not here, charged or broken. They don’t improve efficiency either it will take at least 5 to 10 minutes to setup a class on the laptops and once you had the laptops as long as us you’ll learn to hate them. Now days only a few people can be bothered to bring them.
    About there design, there is no way they are military grade, my laptop 2011 models may not have the rubberised edges (ugly) but they are more reliable not that that is saying much. While mine hasn’t suffered abuse it did have the keyboard die and was out action for three weeks whilst I had a loan.
    Long story short they cool when you first get them but that wears off pretty quick, my recommendation is invest in ultrabooks, lighter and fast. However the price of MacBook Air’s have come down quite a bit and you wont have the same licensing costs you would with Microsoft.
    Just thought I’d have a say, the word of a veteran of this program.

    • Thankyou Aaron for your very important feedback! So far my sons computer after one year has survived, but I can’t say as much for his computer bag 🙁 will have to replace. Clearly it’s doing its job!

      I think the original idea of Kevin Rudd’s govt was to make sure that money did not prevent any student from having access to a computer they could take home. And probably this was achieved. The big problem with the program that I can see, (tell me if I’m wrong) was balancing security on the devices and usability. I notice with my own son, he finds the computer difficult to use, because of it’s restrictions. He can’t add programs, or custom the computer. And until he and his friends cracked it, wasn’t supposed to be able to connect to the internet at home on it, which seems like throwing the baby out with the bath water! How can a student possibly do homework on this computer at home without access to the internet on it, if this was the only computer in the house for instance. Not sure if your computer had the same restrictions. The text book discs he got were ok, but honestly he doesn’t use them. Not sure why. Probably cause he does most of his homework on the home apple, and the discs are all windows…(of course)..

      I also think NOT having textbooks available on the laptops is also a huge issue. There is enough weight in a school bag without adding a computer to them! I also worry that many of the teachers are still not really sure how to make use of the computers in the class room…as you say, you are still required to do so much with pen and paper. Having textbooks on a laptop or on an ipad with portable keyboard that you can write in, would be so amazing I think. Then you can avoid losing books, leaving them at school, wear and tear, and the weight of your bag! If they were all available for re-download then you could replace a damaged or lost computer.

      My son definitely works better on a computer, he types faster than he can write, but so much of his written work as you say is still required in books…I think because the system for submitting and showing work has not yet been sorted out properly.

      I agree with a lighter laptop or tablet actually very much so.

      But I am so worried though at the ability of the teachers to be able to get up to date with the technology, it really takes some intensive training. I know how hard it has been for a lot of teachers to get a hang of using email and online calendars and school intranets. It can be so frustrating for students to be told that homework is now on the intranet but then to find the teacher has forgotten to put it up there..or they don’t know howm or there was a crash ect…it makes you distrust the process, so you know you have to get all the info down at school. learning and mastering all the new technology just has to be part of their job description.

  • Kathy

    Hi, I’m a year 10 student this year, so the last lot of kids to get the government laptops. They are really bad, bt considering the damage that some kids do to them, it’s not bad. For the year 9’s next year, our school gives them a choice of one of 2 laptops, Mac Airbook or Dell Ultrabook (we’re not allowed anything else). Each school term we pay around $120 for the laptops and finish payment at the end of yr 12. The school’s IT department installs all softwares and are the administrators on our laptops (so we have no right over it). Even though we are paying off bit by bit for these laptops, they are still the school’s and they have the right to confiscate it without notice. For students already with government laptops, we get to keep the old ones or buy one of the two models above by ourselves (outside of school) but the school is still its owner. I’m keeping mine because I am really carefull with stuff and I don’t think buying a new laptop will help me at all.

    • Hi Kathy thanks for your feedback, this is really helping me to understand much more how the computers are going at schools. I know quite a few schools are using Mac, or Windows, having both will certainly keep the I.T dept busy! Not to mention if you have to use them in class and the Teacher only knows one operating system…
      That actually sounds like a pretty good deal your school is doing money wise, you are paying for them, but getting them serviced as part of it, will be a good money saver, as long as the IT dept can keep up with the work! Do you get to keep the laptops at the end? Not that it matters too much, a 4 year old laptop isn’t worth much and should be replaced with a new one. What happens if your laptop gets stolen or lost or badly damaged, do you get a replacement?
      A new laptop for you will be probably a little faster, and lighter in weight right now. But not really good reason to buy another. Stick with what you have. As I said to Aaron above, I really hope schools get the text books on them soon! The textbooks are expensive, and are really heavy, and don’t know about you…but my sons always have the wrong ones for their homework! so mostly they just bring em all home! 24 kilos of them!

  • Aaron

    Very few public schools use Mac, due to the price and limited offering by the department it self. One version of MacBook and two of the iMac (21.5″ and 27″). Schools buy computers in roll outs and in every roll out they get so many points to buy computers with. So take for example the base iMac $1399 costs about 2 points, but a $600 lenovo costs 1 point, but then you need a monitor another point. That is roughly how a school purchases computers. Not many public schools in the NSW system do roll outs of laptops as mentioned in previous comments. I believe it is a Victorian thing, they have more power over purchasing.

    • Yes Aaron you are right, most public schools won’t ask for Mac’s due to cost. For the Rudd Govt policy ALL schools got laptops, unless they opted out, (I know of one school who did that…they didn’t want the Govt issued ones as they were restricted). As the article points out. The Rudd Govt supply of laptops for every year 9 student was only going to be funded for 4 years. As far as I can tell through anecdotal stories, it seems every school is now developing their own policy. The public schools will no doubt rely on parents to supply the laptops, whilst private schools who accepted the Rudd Govt roll out, will decide for themselves, if they buy them and factor them into the fees, then having more control of the devices presumably. I know of at least one school who will be trialing iPads instead of laptops, they are a private school. I will endeavour to get some official response to these questions. I’m not a journalist, so chasing up politicians and school representatives (who can be quite private) is very hard for me to do. I’m speaking as a Cyber Safety advocate who is concerned with security and privacy issues on these BYOD devices. This post has had a LOT of hits thousands upon thousands since I posted it in 2012, clearly there’s not much information out there. Each school will inform the parents of year nine students what will happen I guess either early in the year or have already done so.

  • 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 http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/editorial/halting-school-laptop-funding-does-not-compute-20130202-2dr62.html

  • William Chen

    As a year ten student, I would like to say that the laptops DET are handing out are already out-dated and obsolete, Check the specs, Im not even going to go into comparisons in 4 years time. The laptop when bulk bought from lenovo is quite cheap and the gov claims that the main cost is the software (yes the adobe programs are very expensive). But if you check closely, so obsolete are these laptops they do not even meet the minimum system requirements to run most of those adobe programs (don’t even make me talk about the recommended system requirements). In short the DET are handing out out-dated pieces of trash that are filled with software every boy dreams of using. So in essence we recieving a lawn mower that can mow the lawn excellently but does so in 10 cm strips which makes it absolutely useless. Most people do not use the more expensive photoshop etc. programs (we are not IT experts after all). The internet reception on the laptops is appalling (google it) and although blocking websites is justified, some things cannot be justified, such as why google images is blocked when not at school (not every child is trying to access in-appropriate images at every given opportunity). The TSO’s frankly just bill you for repairs and don’t give a damn about your laptop problems. AND to top the whole lot off, for 500 dollars (the cost of hardware only) I can buy a laptop running windows with almost DOUBLE the specs (which is about triple the speed and reliability) of the school laptop, and Im not even bulk buying…… We don’t need a rubber ring around our laptops with thick plastic covering. Sensible kids don’t walk with their laptops out and seriously how many laptops have you seen destroyed physically? not many.
    Recently my hard drive failed on my silver det laptop. (no biggie considering its a failing DET device) and I thought the bill would be about $50. Instead the TSO says it’ll cost $250 dollars (half the cost of the entire bloody laptop) to put this in perspective. Silver DET hard drives by Lenovo are 100gb. for the EXACT same model of laptop, LENOVO’s WEBSITE advertises 500GB drives for $67 dollars……..
    so the DET are overcharging by 500%
    Give the kids a break and give them a 500 dollar laptop scholarship which they can use to buy any windows laptop they want. Then simply install the det software onto it. That way kids who like their devices can get the performance and speed they need for photo-shop, while the textbook kids can go small time and not have to deal with the rest the student cohort complaining about absolutely shoddy det devices that are too cumbersome to even recognize as a device handed out in 2012/2013

    • William Chen

      and btw its high time they legislated the legal ability for teachers to view whatever the student is viewing on their laptops. This would put an end to hackers and firewall bypassers. But some stupid politicians argue it a privacy thing… and that it shouldn’t be allowed. EXPLAIN THAT to the thousands of fustrated DET IT people and Teachers who have a hard time stopping students from playing games in class (im a student and I know multiple ways to hack laptops very easily and they are quite well known too)
      But by allowing teachers to view whatever the student is viewing on… say their own det laptops, it would EFFECTIVELY stop all hacking activities (its very hard to bypass det software in a manner that shows the teacher a different image to whatever is on your screen since the software would be so simple, as to have no loopholes) In essence, whatever is on your screen shows up on your teachers at a click of a button. Simple effective no hacking loopholes. And what kind of privacy issues are those politicians talking about. Personal information and pictures should not be on DET devices anyway……… only essays, notes and schoolwork. Its not like they need to respect your privacy on facebook or msn. THEY ARE BLOCKED…….

      • This comment is brilliant! I totally agree. In many work places, this type of arrangement is in place. I also know that in some training facilities they use it. Particularly when training people with using their computers for their jobs. I’d like to speak to a teacher on this, and also to know if it’s the same policy in other countries. My son is always complaining about the boys up the back who are simply using their computers for games. Mind you having said that…if you are using your computer for games and not doing lessons…your the one with the bad marks at the end of the year. Some work places are banning social media for private purposes in the work place. There’s always been issues around these type of things, when I was in an office way back it was personal phone calls, now it’s Facebook. Bottom line…if you make your quotas you should be able to have a quick check of your Facebook page during a coffee break don’t you think?

    • Thankyou William for your comment. I agree with so much of what you have posted. I agree that it didn’t seem well thought out. The initial idea was to make sure all kids had access at home to a computer to be able to stay inline with other schools. But the security restrictions do make it very hard to use the computers as well as they should be at home. Do you know what your school will be doing next year for computers?

      • William Chen

        depending on the funding. We are either going to get new ones (if the funding continues highly unlikely), or tell the students to BYO (which is unfair). If they give them new ones, the whole det-laptops-are-bad-and-useless argument will ensue. Not to mention many parents are going to start a whole new problem with a the-government-is-being-unfair by cutting resources argument. Now I’m sure we are going to at some point say BYO to the students because the funding dwindling, but even then, they can easily convert any laptop running windows to run DET windows.

        but really, I don’t understand the point of blocking EVERY SINGLE slightly out-of-line website or program. If teachers could see what the students are doing no blocking would be needed. And IN-CLASS is all that matters. I would love to facebook on my school laptops, its a great way to share information and get group tasks done. and if the teachers can see my screen easily, I wouldn’t use it in class, same goes for playing games. Explicit sites would of course be blocked, but what is the harm in facebook, if the teachers can catch you using it in class (which is generally inappropriate because its a lesson). And not to mention facebook has a built in explicit material filtering software. Games too are a great way to relax after a hard day, and it wouldn’t be a problem in class if teachers could catch you playing it (students aren’t that stupid). Same goes for forums, wiki pages etc. (what harm can they do if the students are accessing forums off-school anyway?)

        As you said, If the students get their quota done (by concentrating in class and not using their laptops to play games) what is the harm in a little facebook or flash game after a school day?

        As an afterthought, I have no idea why they haven’t considered the whole $500 dollar scholarship BYO and convert to DET-Windows scheme. Its a win win situation, the gov doesn’t have to get ripped off by lenovo, and students can buy whatever suits their needs…….

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