Michael
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:36 am

Quote from liz on September 2, 2011, 23:40
This is a bit depressing - the blog of an ex-ICT teacher who has found a lot of reasons to dislike Raspberry Pi.

Interesting. What follows is a rather long point-by-point rebuttal of various points made in that article.

Point #1 (the UK has enough programmers) would have been more compelling if Mr Pitcher had also shown the number of students that actually manage to graduate from each subject. As I understand it, one of the main motivations of setting up Raspberry Pi wasn't necessarily that there aren't enough undergraduates applying for computer science, but rather that the skillset of the applicants is poor (lots that know how to write basic HTML, few that can write a device driver).

Point #2 is really two points
(a) A distribution is needed which combines a graphical OS with a nice, easy introduction to programming through an accessible programming language.

(b) School Network Managers won't specify and buy R.Pi.

I agree with point 2a. One of the things I really liked about RISC OS was the way you could press F12 while in the GUI and you would get a command prompt. Type BASIC from there and you were into the BASIC intepretter. Type exit and hit return twice and you were back in the GUI. The message on the screen even told you what to type to get back to the GUI.

I understand that the RISC OS Open people are one of the teams hoping to get their OS up and running on R.Pi. In any event, there will be a couple of months between November and when the devices go on sale to Education so hopefully the R.Pi team and the community will be able to come up with an initial offering that minimally meets the needs.

I don't agree with point 2b. I know a couple of teachers responsible for teaching ICT in schools. Both would dearly love to educate children in ICT rather than train them as they do now, but there are a number of key problems that currently prevent them from doing so. The two biggest are the cost of appropriate equipment and the time and cost of maintaining it in working order. R.Pi solves both of these problems. Watch Eben's video from the Educating Programmers Summit for more thoughts on this.

I also can't agree with point 3 (children would hate programming, its tedious). As the tail end of Peter Price's BBC Click segment shows, children - particularly young children - love creating things and solving problems. As Fred Brooks commented in his essay The Tar Pit, "The programmer works... only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff". I take particular delight in seeing children choosing to forego their break time so that they can continue playing learning with their subject matter - as do some of the children in that video clip.

Pitcher makes some additional points towards the end of his third section:

b) We don't have enough teachers to deliver it.
Pitcher should be all too aware that one does not have to be a subject matter expert in order to teach it. The reality is that schools are not like Jamie Oliver's Dream School - they aren't kitted out with Olympic medallists teaching PE, Poet Laureates teaching English Literature and Noble Prize winners teaching the sciences. Schools already have ICT teachers, but those teachers don't currently have access the appropriate resources (see point 2b above).

You simply need great, really enthusiastic teachers with access to good quality teaching materials. I get the strong impression that the R.Pi team are developing partnerships with other organisations with the specific aim of making sure that teachers will have access to appropriate teaching materials.

c) You can't expect teachers to light the spark [of imagination and interest]
Huh? I absolutely do expect teachers to do exactly that. In my opinion, that is one of the most noble parts of a teacher's role.

I can absolutely identify which individuals in my early life identified potential interests in each of woodwork, electronics and programming within me, nurtured them and encouraged me to investigate further and hone my skills. They were teachers, my parents and grandparents, and a couple of close family friends. The teachers played a pivotal role.

d) Children don't need to learn programming at school - they can teach themselves in the privacy of their own home.
This argument point also surprises me. The wonderful thing about school is that it provides a structured environment for covering a curriculum. Unstructured learning is a good way to reinforce existing or newly acquired skills and knowledge - it isn't a particularly effective way to ensure a good grounding across a varied skillset. University admissions staff and ICT employers will both tell you that the existing 'bedroom learning' approach simply isn't generating enough candidates with the skills developed to the level that that those bodies are demainding.

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:48 am

good post michael. perhaps you should post to his blog or at least a link to this post

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:14 am

I'd like to add to that very bottom point labeled "d)" that states that children "can teach themselves in the privacy of their own home." ... I somehow fail to see how a $25 computer is something that CAN'T be used in the home? What about a take-home utility, much like a textbook? How about an aspiring C++ developer who languishes at home with a Pentium-based computer running at 400MHz from his parents' hayday?

All of the argument points are incredibly pessimistic, generally pointing out that there is not a need for more "education" with regards to programming, computer science, etc. I'd like to point out that the R-Pi is just as useful for a personal user, and does not require amazing teachers to inspire (though, of course, from experience, such teachers do make it easier and more enjoyable to learn). For any reasonable budding programmer, 700MHz at $25 is an inspiration in and of itself. Imagine the possibilities of an army of open source coders who think as quickly as teens and young adults. We have some now, but this opens up many doors of opportunity.

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:34 am

Quote from ukscone on September 3, 2011, 00:40
at least your aren't an ICT teacher :)

You know what they say about those who can't do. (They teach) :P

Some of his points made it kinda sound like a) he didn't want to have to do more work (and in doing so inspire children to creativity) and b) he himself might not be capable of teaching children these things and is worried about his job security!
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:42 am

I am concerned that we're alienating a lot of ICT teachers (not all of them, by any means; some seem pretty excited by RP) by producing this slightly scary-looking *thing* bristling with scary-sounding things like headers and capacitors, and running an OS they've heard might be difficult to get to grips with, and haven't used before. The board we'll be selling for educational purposes will come enclosed in a case for reasons of robustness, and will have a nice friendly logo on it; perhaps this will help? I am worried that we're going to meet a wall of resistance from certain ICT teachers, though.

I'm not tarring all ICT teachers with the same brush here. We've had brilliant support from some, and I know plenty of them are excited about the project. All the same: some aren't.
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:49 pm

Having read through the "ex-ICT teacher" blog, I'm not surprised that computer science is a non-subject in the curriculum. When I trained to be an ICT teacher in the mid-90s, most of the other trainee teachers came from a non-programming background ( think I was the only one who had industrial experience in programming). It was the brave new world of the New Labour educational reforms and the old world of BBC computers (Bs, Masters and Archimedes) was being swept away in favour of tightly locked down Wintel machines running Office and Encarta, essential tools for school project work and ideal training for the mythical "workplace". The ethos was to use "computer" timetabled periods to support other curriculum areas and so the emphasis moved away from learning about how a computer worked and how you got it to do things to using it to produce work for other subjects using the facilities available in Office and data first from sources like Encarta and later the Internet. ICT teachers were there to facilitate this approach. This wasn't how I saw my role and I went back into industry.

One thing that did strike me about the blog was the complaint that the Pi "can't run Windows". Personally, I'd see that as an advantage rather than a shortcoming. Theres enough exposure to MS Windows in the school environment, and the environmental metaphore is pretty consistent across MS Win/OS X/Gnome/KDE to the extent that a user has to be terminally inept not to be able to access the local office software, browse or email client fairly swiftly.

Perhaps the main problem is that the Pi would introduce a variable into the teaching workflow that would render lesson plans developed over a number of years obsolete. Perhaps its about time the revolution took place, allowing IT to be taught in a less stultifying environment?

Embrace change, Mr Pitcher. Crunching attainment data on an Excel spreadsheet won't help!
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:51 pm

http://www.technobuffalo.com/t.....verything/

Opinion piece on what our $25 price point might mean for other parts of the tech industry.
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:02 am

Nice to read about the 'powerful' part after the board's performance has been slagged off by a lot of trolls. (I just thought of one of these buying a car: "So it costs $500 and does 100 Miles to the gallon, why does it run only 200MPH???")

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:47 am

With apologies to Ghandi ...

When someone comes up with great innovative idea -

first everyone will say it is a bad idea
then they will say it won't work
then when it is successful, they will say it was obvious and they thought of it ages ago.

Michael
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:54 am

Quote from ukscone on September 3, 2011, 01:48
good post michael. perhaps you should post to his blog or at least a link to this post

I've tried to, but the post form on his blog seems to be broken.

Quote from liz on September 3, 2011, 11:42
I am concerned that we're alienating a lot of ICT teachers ... by producing this slightly scary-looking *thing* bristling with scary-sounding things like headers and capacitors, and running an OS they've heard might be difficult to get to grips with, and haven't used before.

I think there are two deliverables that would have a big positive impact here
Good quality teaching materials
An operating environment geared to the target age group

When I was at school, the school used a modular electronics system to teach the basics of Electronic systems such as ADC, DAC, logic gates and so on. It wasn't Microbric, but it was something similar. In short, I don't think you need to worry about it being scary-looking as long as it is not scary-using for teacher or pupil.

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:36 pm

Just saw a bit of a mystery traffic spike: turns out Ben Goldacre (my hero!) tweeted about us.

http://twitter.com/#!/bengolda.....4596096000
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liz
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:48 pm

A German blog with Raspberry Pi news. Not sure if this is being run by a forum member, but it certainly looks like it - and I like it a lot. Come and let me know who you are!

http://raspberrypinews.blogspot.com/
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:15 am

http://electragician.net/

Blog post by someone who clearly can't wait for release. :)
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liz
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:32 pm

http://loudmouthman.com/2011/0.....t-compute/

Rebuttal blog post in response to the depressing ICT teacher's blog post from the weekend. I encourage you to post in the comments to this and the original one that sparked it off!
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:48 am

Director of Communications, Raspberry Pi

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:59 pm

Apologies if you consider this to be tooting my own trumpet, but I've just put up a blog post about the R-Pi and IT education.

http://dontclogthetubes.net/node/94

Oh, and I've only just got the site up & running, so please ignore the rough edges!

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:02 pm

We don't mind at all - thanks very much!

ETA - I've just read the whole post through, and it's actually made me feel slightly weepy. I do hope that's just hormones or something. You're very far from being alone in being failed so badly by the provision you had at school and college. I don't think Raspberry Pi is the whole answer, but it's a good start.
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:28 pm

Quote from liz on September 6, 2011, 14:02
We don't mind at all - thanks very much!

ETA - I've just read the whole post through, and it's actually made me feel slightly weepy. I do hope that's just hormones or something. You're very far from being alone in being failed so badly by the provision you had at school and college. I don't think Raspberry Pi is the whole answer, but it's a good start.

Heh, wasn't my intention to make people weepy :). Having access to something like the r-pi wouldn't necessarily have changed anything for me. It would have certainly been cool as hell though :). By the time I was in the last year of school I already had my own computer; I wasn't disadvantaged like many are, and I soon learned that if I buggered it up the worst I would have to do is re-install Windows. The big problem was the attitude to IT education. Not only the school - I can see how it's a tricky subject to do well - but also the GNVQ course. Despite what the college had sold it as, I really wanted an academic course and the GNVQ - even the advanced level that I did - is certainly not academic. I am rather glad that they have disappeared.

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:13 am

http://gamesleepgame.wordpress.....pberry-pi/
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:47 pm

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:31 pm

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:08 pm

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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:14 pm

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:11333

This is cool - someone is so keen that they've 3d printed a case for an alpha board - even though they don't have one, and know they're not going to be able to get their hands on one. It's more a test of cost and feasibility for a case for the final board.
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:36 pm

http://www.jacquesmattheij.com.....spberry+Pi
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Re: News articles and blog posts about Raspberry Pi

Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:13 pm

http://news.techeye.net/busine.....z1XYOaqozE

David's been talking about the disappointing response (or lack thereof) of the UK Government to the project, and his hopes for a possible tie-in with the Beeb.
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