[Fsfe-ie] IBEC requiring laptops for all secondary students.

teresahackett at eircom.net teresahackett at eircom.net
Thu Sep 1 13:24:15 CEST 2005

Hi Éibhear,

The reference to eliminating the need for schoolbooks and bags may have 
come from this report. I think it's for real!

Irish Times, 26.8.2004

The Minister for Education, Mr Dempsey, should introduce legislation to
limit the weight of school books or face future litigation from adults
suffering from back pain, Fine Gael has said. Mr David Stanton, the 
party's deputy spokesman on education, said research has shown that 
heavy schoolbooks could lead to serious long-term back problems. "One 
way of addressing this issue is to limit the size and weight of the
books the children carry", he said..."The last thing we want to see is
litigation from kids with bad backs..."


Éibhear wrote:
> Hi,
> Yesterday, IBEC released a press statement on the subject of "Information
> and Communications Technologies"
> (http://www.ibec.ie/ibec/press/presspublicationsdoclib3.nsf/wvPCDCCC/ABC6702FC56F128F8025706D004BE061?OpenDocument
> -- http://tinyurl.com/bwmcd) calling on the government to provide every
> secondary school student with a laptop computer within 5 years.
> While there's no mention of the matter in the press release itself, IBEC
> spokesman, Brendan Butler, was quoted in certain news items as saying that
> one of the benefits will be to eliminate the need for school books and
> bags. Clearly he's never found himself dragging a laptop from site to site
> on his bicycle every day.
> In light of the news that Princeton University and other colleges are
> offering students electronic versions of textbooks that have "digital
> rights management" controls on them
> (http://news.zdnet.com/2102-9588_22-5825301.html?tag=printthis), while I
> applaud the initiative on the part of IBEC, I believe IFSO needs to
> respond to highlight the dangers of it regarding the freedoms of students.
> I propose the following as a press release.
> I had a brief discussion with Ciarán, Malcolm and Teresa regarding this
> last night at the meal for Beatriz, and they suggested some changes. I
> haven't put those changes in because I don't have the time right now.
> Also, if IFSO decides not to go with this, hopefully we can use this as an
> exercise in drafting press releases in order to make the process more
> efficient. With that in mind, there was a number of criticisms offered by
> Colm McCárthaigh on the first/last press release from IFSO. Can some one
> point me to where they are so that I can apply them to this one?
> Thanks,
> Éibhear
> (with thanks to Ciarán for the separator!)
> =========================8<----------------------
>    School Laptops and Freedoms.
>    The Irish Free Software Organisation (IFSO) welcomes the call from
>    IBEC for all secondary school students to be provided with a laptop
>    within 5 years. Noting the suggestion that this initiative will remove
>    the need for school books and bags, IFSO cautions against the
>    potential on the part of administrators and publishers to restrict the
>    freedoms that students currently enjoy.
>    "The temptation on the part of publishers to control electronic text
>    books with 'digital rights management' (DRM) features will be too
>    strong to resist," says [a functionary of IFSO]. "The education sector
>    will need to fully understand the implications of this with respect to
>    how students acquire and use text books." Recently some colleges in
>    the United States, including Princeton University, have offered
>    "cash-strapped[1]" students electronic versions of text books for a 33%
>    discount. However, these versions of the books are controlled by DRM
>    features that will not allow a copy of the book to be view on any but
>    the computer it was downloaded to and will prevent the student from
>    reading or accessing the book after five months. "If the idea becomes
>    popular, the size of the discounts will progressively become smaller
>    until the electronic versions of the books are no less expensive that
>    the paper versions," said [yet another IFSO apparatchik]. "With the
>    elimination of paper books, students will be significantly less free
>    to learn than they currently are. At the same time, cost saving
>    options like second-hand books will be denied to families who struggle
>    every year during the back-to-school months."
>    Some examples of freedoms that students enjoy with school text books
>    that would be denied to them by DRM-controlled electronic books are:
>      * Writing notes directly into the book.
>      * Retaining books indefinitely for the purposes of revision or
>        reference.
>      * Borrowing books from friends.
>      * Getting books from older siblings.
>      * Buying books from students from the class ahead.
>    Regarding the laptops themselves, parents and teachers need to make
>    sure that the students' tendency to explore and learn are not
>    inhibited by the software applications that are installed on them.
>    "Inquisitive students like to change and adapt their computing
>    environments to suit their own interests. Many software applications
>    prevent the students from examining them in order to learn how they
>    work." said [some one else crawling from the IFSO woodwork]. "In the
>    light of an increasing culture of monitoring activities, students who
>    think they are being spied on by their teachers and the vendors of the
>    software applications on the laptops will be inhibited in their
>    natural desire to learn, especially with such a powerful educational
>    tool as a computer. Students should not be allowed to believe they
>    could gain a criminal record, as in the case of some high-school
>    students in Kutztown[2] in Pennsylvania, for exploring their
>    computers." IFSO believes that school laptops should contain a wide
>    range of Free Software applications to facilitate this, and the
>    administration of these computers should encourage the use of Free
>    Software for all school activities.
>    About Irish Free Software Organisation (IFSO)
>    IFSO was founded in January 2004 with the aims of promoting and
>    protecting software which comes with the freedom to study it, modify
>    it and redistribute it: Free Software. Notable examples of Free
>    Software include the GNU/Linux operating system, the OpenOffice.org
>    office suite and the Firefox web browser. IFSO seeks the wider use of
>    Free Software, and a wider understanding of the benefits that software
>    freedom brings through independence, transparency and the ability to
>    collaborate with others. IFSO would also like to see businesses which
>    write, deploy or support Free Software being encouraged. IFSO works to
>    ensure that new legislation does not restrict the writing of Free
>    Software so that Free Software can continue to flourish.
>    [1] "Coming to campus: E-books with expiration dates",
>    http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5825301.html
>    [2] "Kutztown 13 Face Felony Charges",
>    http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,68480,00.html
> =========================8<----------------------

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