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Speaking at linux.conf.au about OLPC Australia

I will be speaking at linux.conf.au 2011 in Brisbane about OLPC Australia, with a focus on the technical side. We have been doing some amazing stuff, but thus far we have been very quiet about it in the technical community. It’s time to fix this oversight.
My talk is titled, Enabling Connections to Opportunity: OLPC Australia. If you’ll be at the conference, watch me talk on Thursday at 14:30. If you won’t be, grab the video once it is out.
Also speaking with me is Ian Cunningham, who works for the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training. Ian is heavily involved in the deployment of OLPC technology in Northern Territory Schools, and will be able to deliver accounts from an educator’s perspective.
Here’s a copy of the abstract:
Secondary speaker: Ian Cunningham
Australia is officially a developed country, but that status hides inequities that exist within. In particular, children in remote Australia typically have far fewer opportunities for education and communication than their counterparts in metropolitan regions. Recognising that their situation is not dissimilar to those seen in the developing world, One Laptop per Child Australia was founded.
The mission is ambitious: to enhance learning opportunities for the 400,000 children, aged 4-15, living in remote Australia, by 2014. OLPC Australia are on track to replicate success stories such as Uruguay to have a comprehensive educational programme out to each and every one of these children.
The centrepiece is a learning device, known as the XO. Through leveraging FLOSS, the XO provides unparalleled connectivity and opportunities for children to learn.
Underpinning the project are seven core principles. The gestalt of these principles form an important foundation to the educational goals of the project. The fifth principle, Free and Open Source, will be discussed in practical context of the Australian circumstance.
Australia presents some interesting challenges that are less common in the environments that the XO was originally designed for. On one hand, we have a vast, geographically isolated continent, sparsely populated with some of the most ancient cultures in the world. On the other, there is modern technology and Western-style governance.
This talk will present how OLPC Australia have been innovative and responsive to meet the Australian situation. Some examples include:

  • the world’s first deployment of the new XO-1.5 models
  • a streamlined version of the XS School Server
  • an economical and practical racking and charging station for XOs

It will discuss how the use of technology underpins a holistic educational programme, and how OLPC Australia works with departments of education, schools and communities to build a sustainable operation.
If you have ever wanted a way use your technical skills to benefit those most in need, this is the talk for you. Education is a key vehicle for closing the gap for the peoples in remote Australia. As a FLOSS project, your contributions also benefit those abroad.
Here are our bios:
Sridhar Dhanapalan grew up in the 1980s, as the personal computing revolution was heating up. With only two television channels in his town, he turned to his computer for solace. He wishes he had discovered FLOSS before the late 1990s, because downloading GNU Emacs over an acoustic coupler would have been fun. Sridhar is a former board member of Linux Australia, and a previous president of the Sydney Linux Users Group. He is currently the Technical Manager (CTO) at One Laptop Per Child Australia.
Ian Cunningham is an IT Project Officer at the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training (NTDET). He has over 20 years teaching and lecturing experience in Australia and abroad. A Linux user since Red Hat 4, Ian has been active in promoting the use of FLOSS in education. He provides technical support and mentoring for the NTDET OLPC Trial.
If you want to be kept updated and take part in OLPC Australia technical development, see our participation page.
©2011 Sridhar Dhanapalan.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australia Licence.

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