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MattHawkinsUK
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:15 pm

I had a heated debate on Twitter with a chap who thought iPads were better at teaching kids to programme than Raspberry Pis. When I asked him how you interface custom hardware with an iPad he said "USB".

He must know some smart 8 year olds. Writing those bespoke USB interfaces on an iPad must be easier than I thought.

Basically the Pi is great. In 10 years time my kids will have built many robots and mad inventions. The other kids with the PC will know how to do a mail merge. But so will my kids. Because Office doesn't need to be taught. It's not that hard.

It is far more important to employee someone with a keen mind and ability to think than it is to employee someone who "did office" in school.

Anyone can learn to use a tool. Not everyone can create.
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jackokring
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:38 pm

Now all we need is a HTML or PDF generating plug in replacement for CUPS, and the power pointed tree in the bin can be recycled before it's generated. Because A4 is way too slippy in the Andrex replacement game. :D

I can't wait for the flood which coincides with the run on the banks, and the "All the money stuck together sir, we have none for you."
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mediakill
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:37 am

I wasn't looking to start an argument just giving my two cents on priorities for teaching kids and what adults feel they should be taught. You could spend all day everyday teaching things they may or may not use in a mad shuffle to get them interested in many fields but i think the main part is to teach them the essentials when it comes to young adults. When in university? teach them whatever the hell interests them :D It's impossible to get them interested in everything that we think might be useful or even interesting for them but its not practical. Not implying programming isn't useful or anything so don't take it so personally. I was just saying that with all the subjects they have in school if they are take computer classes required or not i'd rather they learn the minimum basics of using a os they would encounter everyday

again not familiar with the uk system but the u.s one and was just commenting overall on teaching and what should be focused on instead. Trying to get kids and young adults into programming and/or linux is noble but is it really necessary when their are other subjects that they could be focused on. There are like 8 hours or so in a school day and barely enough time to teach them what we feel they should know. Even spending an hour or whatever a week seems like a luxury when it comes to programming given the tight schedule. I dunno just my thoughts I have no problems trying to get older university level students into programming my argument was mainly against young kids/ high school level not university btw if i was unclear.

And agreed ipads (tablest) in schools are a stupidest attempt at trying to fix the education system and the flavor of the month. Ipads are not replacements by any means for real computers. I'd hate to be the It manager at a school that has to encounter stupid parents and faculty who seriously try to push for them to be implemented as real machines for the curriculum only to have to be like i told you this was stupid in the first place only for them to regret it later.

I do agree raspberry pi's are great little machines that if you do have someone interested in programming even a little bit it can spark interest in programming

gritz
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:39 am

All we need now is for British institutions to match Google's generosity and to start supporting education, instead of just p155ing money on Wimbledon centre court tickets and bitching about the lack of fully formed engineers being popped out of the state school system.

It was the same 30 years ago when I was a kid though, so I don't expect anything much to change. Apprenticeship, anyone?

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Jim Manley
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:52 am

When someone picks a moniker containing the words "media" and "kill", it's pretty obvious they're not really interested in being informed or helping to inform others. The mods here can't call a spade a spade for political correctness reasons, but I'm (in)famous for doing so and have no qualms about it.

It took me a while to realize that the Foundation has been focused on fixing a problem in their own back yard (starting with CS candidates entering Cambridge University). They have been surprised, fascinated, horrified, and delighted to discover that their efforts to develop the Pi have been of intense interest to a wide variety of hobbyists, educators, students, and others around the world, to the point where the millionth Pi will soon be shipped and there's no end in demand in sight. From this evidence, it's pretty clear that the Pi system doesn't need to be "pushed" on anyone. This system includes both the hardware and the much more complex and broad selection of over 30,000 software packages, along with educational materials, training, etc., with the latter all being available at no direct financial cost.

The UK isn't the only place where the proliferation of proprietary commodity computing and game systems has resulted in an intellectual wasteland in the knowledge of computing fundamentals. The same thing is happening in public schools all over the U.S., even here in Silicon Valley - the benefactors of selling those proprietary systems put their kids in very expensive private or extremely limited numbers of public magnet/technology/etc., schools that just happen to be located in their neighborhoods.

If you look at where growth in computing has been heading the past decade, it's not in yet-more mundane office desktop or laptop systems with needlessly-increasing complex and expensive hardware and software. No typical office worker or home user of computing technology really needs a 64-bit system equipped with a multi-core CPU, GBs of RAM, TBs of disk space, Gb/s networking, and vast amounts of floating-point hardware capability, yet that's pretty much all that's offered. Meanwhile, people in the real world are flocking to mobile devices with touchscreens, high-speed networking, and just enough computing power, RAM, and flash memory to be sufficiently useful for most computing tasks such as e-mail, web access, and average levels of content generation (e.g., word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, image, video, etc., files).

Tablets are going to replace shredded-tree-based books if for no other reason than economics - school textbooks cost so much they have to last 10 years, and are thus out-of-date at least half of that period of time, on average. The fact that tablets can be used for many more things is just icing on the cake, but for completely valid stability reasons they're designed to not be used for software development or interfacing with the real world the way the Pi very specifically is.

The Pi can adequately run the open-source alternatives to the office style applications currently used in businesses, government, etc., so claiming that such software can only be run on a proprietary commodity computing platform is not valid. No, you can't have 100 tabs open in a browser, or scores of office documents opened for editing, but that's not what's needed in a classroom environment where the system is going to get shut down and wiped within a couple of hours in preparation for the next class. Now, more commonly, business desktop and laptop computing systems are just a notch above dumb terminals of Yesteryear, where most software and content files are stored on cloud servers and accessed remotely as needed.

As for whether everyone should learn programming, the real question is "What kinds of programming should everyone understand?" When I was a budding ocean engineer in the 1970s, one of my professors told our class that within 10 years there would be two kinds of engineers - those who understood how to use computing to perform engineering and those who were unemployed. All of my high school friends who went into STEM fields who didn't learn software development eventually all had to find work doing something else, typically in education (mostly because of the generous benefits and better-than-average pay compared with being chronically unemployed).

It would do a world of good for all students (of all ages) to learn the discipline associated with software development, which is comprised of a lot more than just writing code (programming). In fact, only about 15% of a typical software developer's time is spent programming. The vast majority of time is spent defining what the software really needs to do. It includes organizing the associated data into appropriate structures (which may or may not include formal databases). Crafting effective user interfaces involves more psychology and artistic design than technical factors. Testing and debugging requires analytical skills well beyond just understanding what code is actually doing, vs. what it's supposed to be doing. Documentation of the delivered software installation, configuration, operation, and end-user experience is a very large effort that involves software developers at least part-time even if someone else is responsible for editing and publishing the documentation.

The manufacturing laborers of the future aren't going to be doing very much actual fabrication and assembly by hand - robots are finally making inroads in factories as costs have continued to plummet and capabilities have remained headed skyward. Workers in places like China need to start looking over their shoulders because even they can't undercut the less-than-a-dollar-an-hour cost of robots. Check out Rethink Robotics Inc.'s, Baxter, a $22,000 industrial robot that can be taught how to perform its tasks by an average person (http://www.rethinkrobotics.com/index.ph ... cts/baxter). Increasing numbers of jobs are going to require telling computing and robotics systems what to do and how to do it, and the Pi is an excellent entree into that area because it has more than enough processing ability (especially the GPU, very useful for simulation and maneuvering in three dimensions). The GPIO interface provides precisely the kinds of input/output capabilities needed to learn basic robotics and other interfaces to the real world.

The Pi is going to enter education through side doors, not the loading dock controlled by a bloated IT fiefdom with a vested interest in their boats' gunwales not getting wet due to rocking. It's starting with computing clubs, coding dojos, Maker.com and Meetup.com events, tech shops, and a variety of other volunteer educator, parent, and student events. If some people don't care about being unemployed after school, then they don't need to worry about learning anything about computing fundamentals. At least the cost of technology like that in the Pi will only continue to decrease as its capabilities increase and non-participants won't have to shell out any more than the current price of the Pi.

If you want more details about what it's really like in today's classrooms, let me know, because that's where I'm currently spending my time teaching kids, their parents, and their teachers about all of the above and much, much more (including basic STEM concepts).
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:03 am

An *excellent* post Jim. I would just like to add that I wish it was the case that 15% of the time was spent on coding.. Sadly even many professionals suffer from the bedroom coding mentality and "forget" the requirements, planning, testing and documentation stages. But then the Pi is meant to be fun too.

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:07 am

How will the recipients be chosen?

Will the Pis be given to kids or schools?

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:34 am

pygmy_giant wrote:How will the recipients be chosen?

Will the Pis be given to kids or schools?
And who looks after "hamster" Pi in the holidays? I'm surprised Tesco don't get involved. :D
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:12 am

Its easy (from where Im sitting) to read this thread, and pick out who is being rational and reasonable.

A++ posts from those persons - I agree with you. You know who you are, and so do 99.9% of the thread readers.

Aside from that, I just wanted to add that Googles donation is generous. Good on them.

Paraphrasing "the money would be better spent elsewhere" - well, guess what, it's not a democratic distribution of money with a vote from people on an internet forum about how to spend it, it is a donation of 15,000 Raspberry Pi's. It's a good thing. Get over it.

Without the donation of the Pi's, the sum total of the donation would 0 x Raspberry Pi's.

I know which one I think is wonderful.

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:45 am

jackokring wrote: ...I'm surprised Tesco don't get involved. :D
I'm sure that if it could be used as a way to sell more horsemeat to "plebs" then they would have got involved already. Which kind of embraces Jim's point about automation. As soon as it's economically and technologically viable to automate jobs that depend on the human interface like education or working in a shop then we're all obsolete and we'll all be paid to stay at home. Yeah, right. :lol:

But as people are still arguing over the merits of BASIC etc. I'm sure that we're probably safe for a few years yet. Perhaps one day someone will invent a computer so smart that it will want paid holidays, then we'll all be back in a job again.

adlambert

Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:20 am

From my experience UK schools are already swamped with modern PCs and Macs and that side of life is being taught well enough. My sons school classrooms all equipped with interactive electronic whiteboards etc.

The Pi offers something different, and 15,000 isn't actually a huge number compared to the school population so we are talking about enough Pis for the students who are inclined to go a bit further into it. What google are doing is taking the worry out of the decision to invest budget in something that not all educators or boards of governors fully understand. Of course it will still be necessary to invest teaching revenue and time. My sons school STEM activities are done largely in out of school clubs by volunteer staff and parents and it is all supported by the local EADS company.

adlambert

Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:23 am

jackokring wrote: I'm surprised Tesco don't get involved. :D
Tesco are already putting a lot into schools and have done for years, and not just by the equipment vouchers handed out on checkout.

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:42 am

I am not sure any one has mentioned that Google have a need for positive PR at the moment with the whole tax issue. I dont take anything away from them for giving the 15k RPIs (sounds like an enterprise harddisc now!).

If you give a bunch of children the latest PCs with SLI graphics and latest 6 core processor, what will happen. They will google how to get round the 'no install' policy and before you know it install the latest FPS. Thats it. These machines are also totally lost on young children, there is no point to them. The educational games young children can play certainly do not need any thing you buy in a computer shop today.

So why the dislike against the RPi? Lets be clear, any device baring the Apple 'I want to become a clone and be controlled in every aspect of my life' iMachine, requires a keyboard, mouse, display. Since the RPi requires only a phone 5V supply, does not require HDD or ODD, you are already saving. No expensive case either. Is it the best most amazing device on the planet for every possible scenario, no. Is it something that deserves any of the hate shown earlier in this thread - certainly not.


Jealousy is a sad emotion. Hatred also most of the time. If you find yourself feeling this about a not for profit charity that is bringing joy to childrens lives, gathering a huge (million plus) community of developers together (yes I accept a lot make HTPCs, but so what), you really should sit down, take a breath or two and consider why you feel this. I cant fathom it.

The people on these forums are enthusiasts. Most are here willing to help, looking to provide their time for the greater good with mostly, no public accolades. Again, consider why you need to write what you write.

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:45 am

pygmy_giant wrote:How will the recipients be chosen?

Will the Pis be given to kids or schools?
To kids. Donations will be via several partner organisations who are already involved in teaching computing / prgramming / computer science to young people. There'll be a blog post shortly with more details.

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:57 am

timgiles wrote:I am not sure any one has mentioned that Google have a need for positive PR at the moment with the whole tax issue...
That's because when you sit down and think about it, it's silly to suppose that this a PR misdirection stunt. Grants of this magnitude take many months too arrange from proposal to announcement. Things like this take a year, way before there was any media stuff about tax.

And of course, any company who simply wanted to curry favour with the tabloids would be stupid to give money to CS education -- they'd get loads more gushing column inches by donating it to e.g. a children's charity. And whatever you may think about Google, they aren't stupid :)

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:01 am

timgiles wrote:I am not sure any one has mentioned that Google have a need for positive PR at the moment with the whole tax issue. I dont take anything away from them for giving the 15k RPIs (sounds like an enterprise harddisc now!).
In fact the Google deal has been gestating from before the tax issue news broke, so the timing is lucky coincidence.
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:08 am

gritz wrote:
jackokring wrote: ...I'm surprised Tesco don't get involved. :D
I'm sure that if it could be used as a way to sell more horsemeat to "plebs" then they would have got involved already. Which kind of embraces Jim's point about automation. As soon as it's economically and technologically viable to automate jobs that depend on the human interface like education or working in a shop then we're all obsolete and we'll all be paid to stay at home. Yeah, right. :lol:

But as people are still arguing over the merits of BASIC etc. I'm sure that we're probably safe for a few years yet. Perhaps one day someone will invent a computer so smart that it will want paid holidays, then we'll all be back in a job again.
It's pretty funny that horsemeat story. I personally have no problem with eating our equine friends, but many in the UK think it odd. But back to the story. Apparently the DNA tests are so sensitive, they can determine if beef was carried in a truck that previously carried horse meat - even if the two meat types never come in to contact. So a lot of the story is a bit of a non-issue. But, the 28% horse burger is definitely a no no -which is why Tesco's have dumped their supplier, who also had no knowledge - the origin of the horse was Poland. Just goes to show how you can be trashed by someone right at the start of the supply chain, because by the time the stuff gets to you everyone except the guy at the start, honestly thinks it pure beef.
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:15 am

mediakill wrote:Even spending an hour or whatever a week seems like a luxury when it comes to programming given the tight schedule...
If you replace the word "programming" with "computational thinking" then your argument falls flat.

The misconception that Computer Science = programming is a common one (perhaps the misconception) when it comes to teaching computing in schools. The media don't help with headlines like, "Coding is the new latin", "Teach our kids to code" etc etc). Computing isn't programming (or vice versa) but programming is a good way to get kids thinking algorithmically, solving problems and creating etc. But of course there is more to it than that.

I encourage you to read Jeanette Wing's seminal article on computational thinking -- and then tell me if you still think that this is a waste of time and that teaching this life skill isn't necessary "when their are other subjects that they could be focused on." As a teacher I think that it is educationally negligent not to formally teach our children how to think properly from an early age. As Wing says,
"Computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists. To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability"

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LemmeFatale
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:05 pm

mediakill wrote:again not familiar with the uk system but the u.s one and was just commenting overall on teaching and what should be focused on instead.
I would respectfully suggest that you shouldn't "comment overall" when you don't have all of the information required to do so. I am going to comment specifically on the UK system, as I don't know the US system, so cannot and will not comment on it.

What you suggest is spending several years teaching basic skills that a child with no previous experience can pick up in a matter of, at most, a few hours, all on their own. This has been the only real option in the curriculum here for some fifteen or so years, and it hasn't worked out very well - in fact, it has directly made us uncompetitive due to the lack of offering any more than that, and due to a lack of teaching transferrable, multi-functional skills.

I would like to share something of an anecdote in order to comment on the UK system, if I may. My apologies to everyone here who already knows how it is out there - I expect many have had similar experiences. :P

My only real encounter with programming in school was with a pen-wielding turtle when I was around five years old and hadn't long started infant school (which you attend from around 4/5 years old 'til you're about 7). I thought it was brilliant, but there was never any follow-up (my own teachers were good but simply technophobic; I'm pretty sure that they weren't the "I can't do it, so why should anyone younger get the chance?" sorts, at any rate), though we were taught transferrable skills through infant and primary school (primary school being attended from around 7 years old to 11/12), by means of exposure to multiple different types of computers, OSes, software, and user-interfaces, and by getting to handle all sorts of different ways of doing things. (I can still remember being introduced to the concept of backwards-compatibility by the Acorn Archimedes twenty years ago - that was a revelation and changed my understanding of how things worked, leading to a fascination with the preservation of old systems many years later.)

By the time I reached secondary school (which you start at 11/12 years old, and attend until you're 18), all usage of computers in schools had been devolved into How To Click Very Particular Menus In Very Particular Versions Of Microsoft Software Packages lessons. These lessons marked the biggest waste of time, enthusiasm, and budding talent that I had seen, as they focussed only on the consumption of software that was not only less useful than what we'd previously been exposed to, but which would change beyond recognition by the time we were old enough to leave school (note that, when I started secondary school, Windows 3.11 and its software was what was used for this). Some people were even put off, since, at least in my own experience, one could end up being chastised for using keyboard shortcuts instead of following copious amounts of worksheet text about the specific order in which one must click menu options in very particular versions of Microsoft software packages in order to copy and paste items, and getting the trivial, pointless work done in a matter of minutes instead of wasting an entire hour on it.

Lately, I've seen that the result of people being taught in this fashion (instead of being given transferrable skills and problem-solving/computational thinking abilities), is that they freak out and become incapable of using newer particular versions of Microsoft software packages, or even entire operating systems, when the menus are moved or changed, resulting in a need for retraining. This wouldn't have been necessary had they been taught the things that the Raspberry Pi seeks to redress in the first place.

Thus concludes the anecdote.

Point being: When you're a kid, it's a lot easier to soak up information, so squandering the time that you've got to teach useful concepts that will serve someone well throughout their life *in many fields* is the real waste.

Major kudos to Google for their donation of a real enabling package to folks who I'm sure will make good use of it and hopefully go far. There is no harm in offering more to those who can make use of it, and certainly no reason to deride it with projections of others' standards.
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:33 pm

jamesh said

It's pretty funny that horsemeat story. I personally have no problem with eating our equine friends, but many in the UK think it odd.
To eat horse meat or not to eat horse meat - that is equestrian.

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:41 pm

When I were a lad, I was taught how to use a slide rule, and can still. I wasn't taught to type, and still can't. I also can't play the piano.

Those are skills that need to be learnt at an early age. But learning which menu to use in a Microsoft spreadsheet isn't. That is the bit that bored my daughter to tears, and she still asks me where stuff is in Openoffice (and the answer is "when you find it, tell me, 'cos I can't find it either")

So there's two things a school does. It teaches the basic skills and knowledge, and it inspires the student to take it further - to ask questions and look for answers

Old fashioned IT courses were too much the former. The Pi is all about the latter

And the slide rule? I still use it. I'd love to be able to play the piano, though

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:40 pm

Watching this thread is both funny and sad. (A bit like tesco horse burgers)

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:54 pm

Your comment really improved it - I am looking forward to further information from clive.

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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:57 pm

4thdwarflord wrote:Watching this thread is both funny and sad. (A bit like tesco horse burgers)
Tesco cancer drug trial reject horse burgers perhaps? Maybe it was a horse labeled Tess?
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Re: Google donated 15000 RPi's to UK Schools

Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:59 pm

What does that mean in English?

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