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[seul-edu] 10,000 Linux-based FreePads to be given away to US schools

I'm trying to read between the lines and get more info on this; the
article is pretty weak on real info. I wish it was happening in Texas.

--[excerpted from: The Associated Press State & Local Wire]----
May 15, 2003, Thursday, BC cycle

State and Regional Program to Bring Laptops to Rural Schools

By MELISSA NELSON, Associated Press Writer


Free Pad computers developed by a Norwegian company are being distributed
to Independence County's nearly 7,000 public school teachers and students
through a pilot program to put technology in rural schools.

The computers will replace textbooks and library books used by kindergarten
through 12th graders in the county's eight school districts.

Independence County will be the largest test site for the program, which
will include 10,300 students and teachers in Arkansas, California, Hawaii,
New York, Utah and Washington, D.C.

Bruce Lincoln of Columbia University's Institute for Learning Technology
said the program represents a changing attitude about how to meld
technology and public education. Lincoln said he believes the issue is as
important to the nation's future as homeland security.

"It's sharing a knowledge base with people. This has been happening in some
places for a long time but not in places like Independence County," he

The New York university plans to study the Arkansas project and help with
its implementation. The three-year project will cost about $14 million and
will be funded through corporate, private and nonprofit sponsorships, said
Sandy Morgan, founder of Kidztel, the New Hampshire company coordinating
the project.

Free Pads, developed by Screen Media of Oslo, Norway, weigh less than 2
pounds and do not have hard drives. They are operated through a touch
screen and include wireless Internet access.

Harald Grytten, CEO of Screen Media, said the computers were designed with
children in mind.

The companies will begin installing the system in mid-June and plan a
community forum later in the month to answer questions about the project.


While kids have largely embraced the project, some teachers are concerned
about the changes, he said.

"It can be intimidating for them, but they have to buy into the
technological age," he said. "We are going to do whatever we have to do to
make this work because it's a $14 million project and we aren't having to
pay anything."


Arkansas is under a state Supreme Court mandate to overhaul a public
education system that the court has declared inadequate and inequitable.
Experts have estimated the cost of changes at $1 billion a year and some,
including Gov. Mike Huckabee, have suggested finding the money through
consolidating small school districts.

Santucci said the technology, which includes video conferencing, will allow
school districts to share teachers in shortage subjects such as upper level
math and science.

Although the computers are composed of fragile circuitry, Santucci, Morgan
and others said they aren't worried about the kids damaging the Free Pads.
The computers, which cost about $450 each, are insured.

Grytten said his company designed the school Free Pads with a special
casing to make them more durable.


Info on the FreePad at:

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Doug Loss All you need in this life is
drloss@suscom.net ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
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