Christoph Derndorfer recently interviewed Rangan Srikhanta, CEO of OLPC Australia, about their plans for the coming year. An excerpt:
You recently launched a new initiative called “One Education” and received $11.7 Million in government funding… Can you tell us more about these developments?
We pitched to the Australian government to kick-off a pilot for 50,000 XOs… a $20m project that would including funding from schools, corporations as well as from government. The program will also provide at least 15 hours of teacher professional development (via moodle) to over 2,500 teachers [to] kick-start a movement to make OLPC the program of choice for primary school children.
What are the biggest challenges that you need to address before you can turn OLPC Australia’s vision into a reality?
Scaling our operations to meet the demand (2 months ago we were a 2,500 XO an year organisation, now we are proposing to do 50,000 in one year) that will be coming through our very small offices in the next 12-18 months. In Australia there are high expectations for service delivery/support.
Sridhar Dhanapalan is giving a talk next week about OLPC Australia, pitching it as “Australia’s toughest Linux deployment“. Â It certainly is that. Â He notes their aim to reach each of the 300,000 children and teachers in remote parts of Australia, over the next three years.
From his abstract:
OLPC AusÂtralia aims to creÂate aÂ susÂtainÂable and comÂpreÂhensÂive proÂgramme to enhance opporÂtunÂitÂies for every child in remote AusÂtralia… byÂ 2014.
[T]he most remote areas of the conÂtinÂent are typÂicÂally not ecoÂnomÂicÂally viable for aÂ busiÂness to serÂvice, hence the need for aÂ not-for-profit in the space.Â
This talk will outÂline how OLPC AusÂtralia has developed aÂ soluÂtion to suit AusÂtralian scenÂarios. ComÂparÂisÂons and conÂtrasts will be made with other â€œcomÂputers in schoolsâ€ proÂgrammes, OLPC deployÂments around the world and corÂporÂate IT projects.
By proÂmotÂing flexÂibÂilÂity and ease of use, the proÂgramme can achieve susÂtainÂabÂilÂity by enabling manÂageÂment at the grass-roots level. The XO laptops themÂselves are… repairÂable in the field, with minÂimal skill required. TrainÂing is conÂducÂted online, and an online comÂmunity allows parÂtiÂcipants nationÂwide to share resources.
Key to the ongoÂing sucÂcess of the proÂgramme is actÂive engageÂment with all stakeÂholdÂers, and aÂ recogÂniÂtion of the total cost of ownÂerÂship over aÂ five-year lifeÂ cycle.
Last year, Telstra worked with OLPC to develop a media campaign promoting OLPC in Australia, and raising money for 500 XOs to be sent to aboriginal communities. This month they took home an award from the Cannes Lions festival for media, in recognition of the excellence of that campaign. See the Cannes entry for images and screenshots of their designs.
Rumour has it that the followup this year will be astonishing — I can’t wait to see it.
OLPC Australia is in the middle of providing 300 children and teachers with XOs in Doomadgee, Queensland. This continues their work in Aboriginal regions across the continent (see their amazing school-by-school map).Â I always look forward to the updates of that particular map – which colors every school deployment by whether it is completed or not.